September 22, 2020
Dear Senator McConnell (or may I call you Mitch?),
You’ve been around so long, I feel like I can call you Mitch. That OK with you? Oh, good.
At the risk of boring you to tears (meaning, I hope you hear these words repeated in your sleep) let me reprint a quote from the year 2016, when Barack Obama was President and chaos ruled the land:
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
As you know, those words were yours. We note their simplicity. Nothing about political parties, mid-term elections, split 4-4 court decisions, and so on. The message is understandable, direct, and borderline defensible. Summary in five words: “Election year, no new justices.” Easy-peasy.
Today, of course, with Mr. Trump now the President and up for re-election in slightly more than a month, you and your Republican colleagues have taken the directly opposite viewpoint. You also have offered lots of logic and argument that precludes any retraction of your earlier position. More than 5 words are always necessary, but you seem very satisfied.
Well, what else can I say but….Well done, and congratulations. Bravo to you and your followers. Truly you are American patriots, worthy of the awesome power you execute. (May you be sped to hell, then tortured hourly.)
Here comes another quote, this one unusual because it was stated at both a Democratic and a Republican National Convention.
“….Your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.”
This is an excerpt from Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democrats in 2012. And with a few tweaks, it was also spoken by Melania Trump to the Republican faithful in 2016. That’s two first ladies of opposite political agendas. With the endorsement of these two polar opposites, that means nearly all of us Americans can sign onto the message, you think?
Mitch, if you bothered listening to this speech, then I am sure you parsed it through your official Republican Secret Decoder Ring, widely distributed to this day, although you got an original model in a box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes back in 1955, and have been hoarding ever since. What the speech really means is that your word is your bond to the people who support you, and if they don’t support you then your word is as breakable and fungible and meaningless as your very soul, which was starved in the first of many coward’s deaths a long time ago.
If I may borrow the decoder ring for a moment, it is clear that your words of 2016 mean the same thing as your words today. That meaning is, “I will execute my power to the fullest of my abilities, and to serve my own purposes.” Not the purposes of the nation, and certainly not the purposes of any citizens who contest the Republican party line. No, you serve yourself and your party—which last I checked, keeps scoring fewer total votes than the Democrats in national elections.
I have heard it argued that Democrats would execute the same maneuver that you are trying now, if they were in the same position. That may or may not be true, but you and I know that they would have little chance of pulling it off. Why? Because at least some of them would be too squeamish and wishy-washy. The American public can put up with tortured logic and misplaced priorities and outright lies and injustice up the wazoo—but nobody wants to feel guilty about it. The secret of the finest politicians, yourself a giant among them, is that they absolutely believe the gibberish they utter. The lower the rationality, the greater the conviction, and the higher the moral ground.
Mitch, you have mastered the art of empty speech, and have done so to the applause and gratitude of so many worshipful admirers in our beloved nation (that is being ripped apart across racial, geographic, and economic divisions, not to mention global climate change.) I can only imagine a time ten years from now, or perhaps as soon as five years or one year, when the citizens of our country are united (in near-poverty and untreated illness, except for the wealthy few) under the leadership of one party—your party—because of your (demonization of liberals, disenfranchisement of the poor, destruction of democratic institutions) dedication to the principles of liberty and justice for all (of your wealthy donors).
With much admiration,
Joseph Berman (No one you have ever heard of)
Sterling, Massachusetts (A place you can safely ignore)