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Dear Elected Democrats...

September 21, 2005
By Nancy Greggs

It's time we had a little talk.

I am a Democrat. While I do not deign to speak for everyone of my party, I do keep up with current political news and have been made aware, painfully so, of a certain attitude amongst my fellow party members that is impossible to ignore. I don't speak for everyone, but I do speak in concert with many.

For the past four-plus years, we have watched our once-great nation dissolve into something unrecognizable. It is now a nation where torture of our fellow human beings is accepted policy; a nation where American citizens can be held in prison, indefinitely and incommunicado, without charge.

It has become a nation where hard-working Americans watch their jobs and their way of life shipped overseas, where the middle class is constantly under siege in a battle that can no longer be won. It is a nation where our senior citizens must choose between medicine and food, and, more recently, where Americans must choose between food and the necessary funds to fill their gas tanks in order to get to work.

We are angry, very angry. Not only as Democrats, but as Republicans, Greens and Independents; we, as a nation, are angry. And the pressing question is: where have you been?

For too long now, it seemed as though your collective strategy to deal with this Administration has been "give them enough rope, and they'll hang themselves." Well, congratulations. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they have hung themselves with a vengeance.

We have now seen how their stewardship of our government agencies has played out, thanks to the patronage appointments of people with no training or skill, thanks to the gutting of budgets to these agencies in order to more fully fund an unwinnable war in Iraq that was, from the outset, based on lies.

Yes, they have hung themselves. But at the cost of how many lives, lives both lost and damaged beyond repair? Do you intend to dole out more rope, hoping they'll do themselves in yet again? Which American city are you willing to sacrifice next? How many lives are you willing to see lost or destroyed in order to be able to stand back and say, "Well, we told you so!"

This is not the time for handing out more rope. This is the time for figuratively tying that rope around this Administration's neck and yanking on it for all you're worth.

We are past the point of bargaining with these people. We are past the point of saying, "I'll just give in to them on this one issue, this one policy, and things will work themselves out down the road."

We are no longer fighting over gay marriage, or the public display of the Ten Commandments. We are past the point of debating the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance, or whether flag-burning is a crime. Those things may be important to some of us, somewhere down the line.

But when Americans die on their own native soil as a result of this Administration's incompetence and self-serving political agenda, it is time to focus on a more important goal: the very survival of our nation as it was, as it could be, as it was envisioned more than two hundred years ago by people who put their very lives on the line to make it everything it should be.

You might ask the age-old question: where is the outrage? Believe me, it's out here. Check out the websites, read the angry letters, listen to the conversation at the local diner. We are outraged indeed.

The more pertinent question is: where is your outrage? You are the people elected to reflect the thoughts, attitudes and will of the people you represent. Where has that outrage been reflected in your behavior over the last four years?

There are those among you who often inspire confidence the passion of Kennedy, the no-nonsense eloquence of Boxer, the knight-like sense of purpose of Conyers, the poetic statesmanship of Byrd.

But while their words and actions inspire the masses, they seem to go unnoticed and unsupported by many of you who sit in public office. Where were you when the 2000 election was stolen, and the facts of same were blatantly obvious? Where were you when the Ohio vote in 2004 was being questioned, when irregularities were surfacing on an hour-by-hour basis? Why did John Conyers deliver his petition without a vast contingent of his colleagues standing proudly behind him? In short: why do we never see you doing anything?

I realize that many of you have your own political ambitions, and want to retain the position you now hold, or even move beyond it someday. There have been times in the past when although I don't agree with it I could appreciate your reticence in standing up for issues that might lose you the support of American voters.

But what is your excuse now? You don't have to fund massive surveys to know, without a question of a doubt, that the majority of Americans not just Democrats, but Americans feel that the country is on the wrong track. The vast majority of Americans now believe that Iraq is all but a lost cause, that our dependence on foreign oil is a catastrophe, that the ever-ballooning deficit is a time-bomb waiting to go off, if not in our lifetime, certainly in the lifetime of our children and grandchildren.

To put it succinctly: what in God's name are you waiting for? How far do you think a do-nothing, sit-on-the-fence attitude about everything that is currently undermining our American way of life will get you in future? How many voters do you think will be bothered to go the polls and cast a ballot in your favor, when they've seen nothing of meaning having been accomplished to date?

There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of you are decent, well-meaning people with the best of intentions at heart. But intentions without words are meaningless, and words without action are without consequence.

I am loathe to condense the feelings of millions of Democrats down to a bumper-sticker, but for the sake of the bluntness called for here, I will do it just the same: Get a Spine, or Resign.

We Democrats are a patriotic, visionary group. We have funds to contribute to campaigns, the will to volunteer our time and resources, the votes to put the right people in office. But we are not likely to expend these things on people who sit by and do nothing. In the past few months, I have been horrified to hear devoted Democrats I know saying things like, "Next election, I'll vote Green or Independent," or, worse yet, "Next election, I won't vote at all." Their reasons for saying so are all too valid: why vote for people who have consistently sat in silence while our democracy is being dismantled?

Many times in the past, especially watching the events of the last few weeks unfold, I have thought that the Democrats would handily win next year's mid-terms, and the presidency in 2008 not through effort, but by default, simply because the country will be ready for a change in view of the disastrous path this administration has led us down. As a stand-up comic once said, "Of course the meek shall inherit the earth they'll be too timid to refuse it."

Unfortunately, I am now having visions of a different turn, visions of a Republican presidential hopeful standing up and saying, "I've seen where we've gone wrong. Vote for me, and I'll make it right." His campaign speeches will be carefully worded to avoid placing any blame on Bush, or his supporters. It will simply be a matter of suggesting a 'correction' here and there, after which everything the economy, the situation in Iraq, the security of our borders will all be back on track.

What will you say then? That he's saying the very things you should have said all along, but didn't?

It is time for each of you to examine your own conscience. Am I up to the job of representing my constituents? Am I willing to stand up for what my constituents believe in, without regard to how it might affect my own political ambitions? Am I willing to fight for what is right, instead of meekly sitting on the sidelines, waiting for someone else to speak up?

If you are not up to the job, step down now and let it be filled by someone who is willing to take what is happening to our country seriously; someone who is ready to fight and, more importantly, to win.

We are about to enter a battle no, a war to save our democracy from an Administration whose only goal is the financial enrichment of themselves and their corporate cronies, and the economic enslavement of those unfortunate enough to be born into the poorer and working classes.

You may think I am over-stating the situation. I can assure you that millions of Democrats would accuse me of not stating it vociferously enough.

As I've said, we Democrats are a great party. We have the guts to fight for what is right, and the will to see that fight through to the end. We are a great bunch of people. We would like you to join us.

There is still time to make this right, to take up the sword of battle and lead. And if you choose to do so, you won't ever have to look behind you. I assure you, there will be an army of millions at your back.

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