Dear Mitch McConnell - By Greer Clem

Last night, I found myself thinking about what I would say if I was standing in front of Mitch McConnell. I decided to write it down: 

Senator McConnell, 

I could stand here and ask you to explain or justify the way the healthcare bill has been kept in the dark. I could remind you of how outspoken you were against the ACA and how you accused democrats of pushing it through, despite it being a year long process with considerable changes. 

I could remind you of a speech you gave where you said that on of your proudest moments was telling President Obama that he would not get a supreme court nominee through. How you denied the position to a worthy candidate vetted by both parties purely out of spite. How you changed the rule for Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority just to get yours through. 

I could also tell you that you grew up in the same town as my father. That I have cherished childhood memories of that place, that perhaps we have walked some of the same streets. 

But here is what I am really here to say: I always prided myself on wanting to hear both sides of a conversation. I love American democracy because it is constructed in a way that allows both sides to speak, that forces cooperation and negotiation. I always felt I could talk to people with other opinions and that we could be friends despite belonging to different parties. But this president, your president, is different. And maybe that's okay, because I had hoped that the democratic processes that exists in Congress, that were envisioned by our founding fathers to provide necessary gridlock and compromise, would see us through. 

But you are showing me that that is not the case. So I am standing here, feeling like the respect I have for the American democratic process is dwindling because those in power are refusing to uphold it. And I am asking you, imploring you, to prove me wrong. 

Allow us to have a conversation about this bill that was kept in the dark. Stop trying to push legislation through because it's now or never - good legislation doesn't have an expiration date. You have your president, your House majority, your Senate seat - but millions of the rest of us don't have that voice, And soon we may not have healthcare. That is not a win for your side - when the stakes are this high, there are only losers. If 22 million Americans lose healthcare because you were too afraid to do the right thing, to have the hard conversations, you did not win. 

I thought you needed to be reminded of this. You and I, who clearly have no beliefs in common, have ancestors who walked the same ground, maybe even relatives who still pass on the street. We don't have to be so different. Or, at least, we can be different and still talk to one another. 

To be honest, I don't think you will take me up on this challenge, but I needed to voice it. And the naive, young, hopeful part of me that believes in the capacity of American Democracy to engage different opinions is hoping that, somehow, you will here it. 


Greer Clem