Open Letter to the Democratic National Commitee (2016)

Open Letter to the Democratic National Commitee (2016)

   They say that hindsight is 20/20. It’d be too easy to start enumerating the causes of Secretary Clinton’s loss to the most unqualified presidential candidate ever to roam the American homeland. I agree that a reasonable amount of time spent examining root causes will go a long way in helping us avoid the same pitfalls come next election cycle, but let’s not dwell on the issue too long. 

   Now it’s time to move forward. 

   Your priority should be, beginning at once, searching for the people that will help our party get back in power so that we can repair whatever damage the Trump administration is certain to cause our nation in the next four— I’m trying to be positive here—years. We need fresh blood. We need to nurture a new crop of Democratic leaders. These leaders must come from a wide spectrum of the population; not only ethnically, but also when it comes to their age group. Young Americans need to be incorporated into our political system, for many reasons, but especially, because, as we know, the future belongs to them. They must be trained so that they can learn the intricacies of what it takes to govern at the federal, state, and city level. The younger they start the better. We know that principles don’t change, but we can’t keep basing our plans on old ideas.

   Our plans must be adapted to the times. The old guard certainly has wisdom—one hopes—but we won’t be able to make any progress if we’re forced to rely on the same crop of leaders that got us into the mess we’re in. And now I’m going to ask you to do something that could be exceedingly hard for you to stomach. I’m almost daring you.

   Would you introduce legislation for House and Senate term limits? I know, I know. You feel like I’m attacking you personally—your way of life. 

   I’m not, really. What I’m doing is what you (and Republicans, too) should have doing all these years: I’m putting our country first. Don’t you agree that three consecutive terms should give a House Representative or U.S. Senator (if they’re worth their salt) plenty time to make whatever contribution they promised their constituency when they were running for office?

   I propose that senators and representatives step down after three terms in office and let someone else run for their seat. Someone new—perhaps younger! Someone with (God forbid!) has different ideas? “Our party may lose the seat to its rival during the transition,” you may say. And I’d tell you that it’s a risk we ought to take. 

   But this fear is unfounded. Just as you wouldn’t be able to hold on to your seat if your constituency deemed your performance in office wanting; similarly, if your electorate is happy, the candidate from your party that is seeking to replace you shouldn’t have a problem.

   The good news, for you, is that after a three-term break, you could run again.

   It isn’t that bad. Is it? 

   You could use this “down time” to travel the world, gain new experiences, further your education. This could only help you and our nation should you decide to seek public office again. 

   Why am I advocating term limits?

   For myriad reasons. 

   First, second, and third, it’s utterly unfair to the rest of the people in your state to have you cling to a public post for thirty, thirty-five years when there are a thousand other citizens qualified, and willing, to serve our country in public office. 

   Senators and representatives get paid very well. And I don’t mean to offend, but I’m guessing that there are cases in which the remuneration is inversely proportional to the good that our nation derives from your performance. 

   The job of senators and representatives shouldn’t be to enrich themselves. Additionally, and perhaps as important, we all know that people become complaisant. All of us fall prey to this malady at one time or another. I bet that, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, as in any other job, the 80/20 rule applies. Eighty percent of the legislation (legislations that are good for the country—we won’t consider legislation that hinders progress (I’m thinking pork-barrel) instead of aiding it) is introduced and fought for by twenty percent of senators and representatives.

   Many among you are, as they say in the U.S. Navy, on the ROAD program (Retired On Active Duty): selfishly holding on to your job because of, among other things, the high salary it pays.

   Need I say more? 

   Again, I know that it hurts having lost the election to someone who is as prepared to be the U.S. President as I am to command the U.S. Army. However, as McCartney and MacManus wrote, That Day Is Done. A greater proportion of the American electorate did “make a sign,” and shouted: “We want H.R.C.” But it wasn’t to be. As much as we’d want to, now is not the time for second-guessing and recrimination. As I said before, we should be preparing for the 2018 Congressional Elections.

   Not only that, we should be hunting for our next presidential candidate.

   I have faith that there are still “a few good men”—and women—left in this great country of ours. That’s why, instead of ending on a sour note, I’d like to leave you with the words of someone much more wise, tempered, and eloquent than this old sailor:

   “In every variety of human employment, in the mechanical and the fine arts, in navigation, in farming, in legislating, there are among the numbers who do their task perfunctorily, as we say, or just to pass, and as badly as they dare,–there are working-men, on whom the burden of the business falls,–those who love to work, and love to see it rightly done, who finish their task for its own sake; and the state and the world is happy, that has the most of such finishers. The world will always do justice at last to such finishers: it cannot otherwise. … There was never a man born so wise or good, but one or more companions came into the world with him, who delight in his faculty, and report it. I cannot see without awe, that no man thinks alone, and no man acts alone, but the divine assessors who came up with him into life—now under one disguise, now under another—like a police [officer] in citizen’s clothes, walk with him, step for step, through all the kingdom of time. … To make our word or act sublime, we must make it real.

   “It’s our system that counts, not the single word or unsupported action.”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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