For some time now, Republicans rode a wave of success at the polls from the combination of big donations from the mega wealthy, gerrymandering, vote suppression and rhetoric that coincides with the values of conservative voters. Once upon a time, they at least pretended to care about their constituents interests.
Following Trump’s election victory last November, those of us who were the targets of his hate mourned the America we had, while privileged white men with fantasies of being Donald Trump danced in the streets.
Whether it is because we are women, POC, LGBT, immigrants, Jews, Muslims or belong to any demographic who angry white males resented for wrestling their absolute hold on power away; we live in dread of the next disastrous thing Trump will say or do.
Every day we experience the combination of disgust and fear. Disgust over the latest ethics violation by someone in Trump’s circle, the Russia story, Trump’s pathological level of lying. Fear over the potentially irreversible consequences of Republican policies on everything from climate change to foreign relations to the very purpose and structure of government and the area of policy that affects every one of us – health care.
While we resist and we will keep resisting; it’s not without fear for the future of our children, our country, our planet and of ourselves.
But Republicans crossed an imaginary line when they failed to pass the first version of Trumpcare which failed because it wasn’t mean enough. Let’s be real, Trump and the Republican Leadership designed Trumpcare 2 to be a one finger salute to the sick, the poor, to women in the name of giving rich people the first of many tax credits – not only by what it said like removal of the individual mandate, but by what it left out like protections against Insurance companies returning to the days of designating survivors of rape and domestic abuse, pre-existing conditions with the blackballs and pricing out of insurance that went with that designation.
The wrath of voters was visible at the same sort of townhall meetings Republicans used to gin up anger over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
We saw the typically apolitical Jimmy Kimmel tear into Trumpcare while sharing the true story of his baby boy’s health issues. Kimmel was right when he said, Democrat or Republican it is unacceptable that in America, parents who don’t have the means to pay the health insurer’s ransom will have to stand by helplessly and watch as their child dies an avoidable death. The fact that Republicans berated Kimmel for his appeal to protect children’s access to healthcare illustrates how callous one has to be to be a Republican lawmaker these days.
Whether one has Kimmel’s platform, a small one or none at all, voters, including diehard Republicans and Trump supporters aren’t willing to let this slide.
Contrary to what Republicans may hope, they don’t just accept their fate, lie down and die. It’s why people across the country are demanding face time at Town Halls with their representatives. It’s why otherwise apolitical people are studying healthcare policy, demanding truthful and substantive answers to their questions. It’s why try as they might, Republicans can’t run or hide from the single most shameful vote this century.
The Republican lack of respect and empathy for their constituents’ concerns and fears has resulted in the most offensive demonstrations of those traits going viral on social media. A notable example is Idaho Republican, Raul Labrador’s pants on fire lie, that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.”
It also caused one thoughtful constituent of one Republican lawmaker to put in writing, what many of us are saying at the water cooler; screaming at Republican pundits on television or expressing in tears.
In an open letter to Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA), following a Townhall meeting, Rev. Dr. Martin Lohrmann wrote:
“Last night, though, I watched you treat people like they were fundamentally wrong. The burden was on them to understand your perspective without you having to listen to them. Their experiences didn’t matter. Their careful study of the issues was irrelevant. The worries that keep them up at night didn’t register with you. In the case of the Loras College graduating senior who asked you about climate change, his education in the natural sciences meant nothing to you. That shows a failure to listen and a lack of empathy.
At the same time, you expected empathy for yourself, for instance, when you told a story about “federal overreach” that kept you from using your 80 acres to build a housing development because of its environmental impact. Expecting empathy for yourself, you justified walking out on an interview because the reporter would not let you turn the interview into a photo op (conditions he had not agreed to). Expecting empathy for yourself, you noted that you are among the less than 10% of House Republicans meeting with their constituents during this recess, as if that were something commendable.”
That’s right, while constituents feared for their very lives as a result of Trumpcare’s many failings, Congressman Blum whined about environmental impact preventing him from making some money by building a housing development. And more importantly, he expects empathy for doing his job.
Voters don’t forget when their representative votes for a bill that has a callous disregard for the value of their constituents’ lives then turns around and says to those constituents, feel my pain over the lost profits from my land development dream.