Hey you in the MAGA hat. I saw you on the news the other night standing in line before the entrance to a hospital emergency room somewhere deep down in Trumpland. You had your four year-old little girl with you. She was having a lot of trouble breathing, wheezing badly. You had been waiting in that line a long time. Lot’s of space and medical attention was being taken up by Covid-19 victims. Your state was a little late with masks and social distancing. So were most other states. But what can you expect when your president insists that this pandemic will simply go away if you just ignore it? Anyway, I just wanted to wish you a merry Christmas and say that I hope everything worked out for you and your girl.
I mean that, though I happen to be one of those Biden voters that make you crazy. Now that might surprise you. If anyone should be a supporter of Donald Trump, it’s me. I’m an old white guy who has had a successful professional career ending in a relatively early retirement. I could do that because I had a healthy retirement savings account and a few investments that, I am happy to say, have done phenomenally under Donald Trump. I have always had great medical insurance through my own and my wife’s employers, so it matters not a fig to me whether Obamacare is gutted by the legislature, voted out of existence or struck down by the Supreme Court. Donald Trump has gotten rid of environmental, safety and regulatory rules allowing the corporate world to do pretty much whatever it wants. That, in turn, produced a strong stock market, all to my benefit. So, if I were to vote my pocketbook, I’d be wearing a MAGA hat like you.
But I voted for Joe Biden instead. Why, you ask, would I do that? Don’t I understand that he will raise my taxes? Yes, I understand that my taxes probably will go up under the incoming Democratic administration. Still, I voted Democratic. I did it because I care about you and your little girl. Guess that makes me what you would call a “bleeding heart.” Oh well. I’ve been called worse. And yes, my heart did bleed as I watched you standing in the cold, holding your daughter’s hand and looking anxiously toward the hospital entrance. I voted for Biden because he favors raising the federal minimum wage, expanding Obamacare, strengthening regulations on the banking and investment industries, making pre-K education universally available and making college accessible for the children of ordinary working people-like your daughter. Believe it or not, I want an economy that works for all of us and not just for me. My American dream is a country where nobody has to stand in line waiting for their sick child to receive emergency medical care and wondering if they will get it in time. If that means I have to pay more taxes, so be it.
I know, I know. All of this sounds like socialism to you. But let me ask you this: how many of us old guys who get Social Security on top of our more than adequate retirements are agitating to overturn that “socialist” program? Why is providing government sponsored Medicare benefits to old guys like me not socialism while providing medical benefits to your daughter is? Why is it that huge subsidies and tax breaks for the gas, oil and coal industries is not socialism, but government financing of health care for children is? Why is it socialism when our government extends your unemployment benefits a few weeks so that you can put food on your table, but “incentive” when a state gives tax free status to companies agreeing to locate their businesses within their borders? Why are there perfectly legal “tax avoidance” rules allowing billionaires, such as Donald Trump, to pay nothing in taxes that are unavailable to you? Truth is, government benefits are “socialism” and “entitlements” only when they meet the needs of people like you.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: terms like socialism and communism-they’re like the F word. They don’t really mean anything. They are political cuss words people like me use to shame you away from demanding for your little girl the same educational opportunities, access to good health care and affordable housing that my children have always enjoyed. We keep telling you that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and that if you are just patient and work hard, all those benefits we keep giving to the top 1% will come trickling down to you. We have been promising that since the 1980s. How much longer are you going to wait for it to come true? How long will it take for you to figure out that every time you give liberals the finger, you just poke yourself in the eye?
In a way, I can understand your attraction to Donald Trump. His railing against a government that doesn’t care about you and your family strikes a chord. You look around at your dying town, your empty factory buildings and struggling farms that continue to languish even as the stock market soars-and it makes you mad as hell. You have a right to be. Trouble is, you are mad at all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. Immigrants, minorities, gay and lesbian people-they didn’t take your jobs away, kill your town or shut down your local hospitals. Capitalism did that. The companies that employed your community found they could get things made cheeper overseas by people who were willing to work longer hours for less. That is what capitalism is all about-making things cheeper and more efficiently to increase profit margines. And if that means your community gets left flat in the dust, too bad. The market has spoken.
The confidence you put in Donald Trump and the Republican party has been cruelly betrayed. Ask yourself, how much has Donald Trump really done for you? He promised a “wonderful health care program” to replace Obamacare. Well, he did all he could to gut Obamacare. But that “wonderful health care program?” If he had kept his promise on that score, you wouldn’t have been standing in that line. Donald Trump inherited a growing economy and promised to make it even better. And he did-for people like me. But what about you? When was the last time you saw a raise? Do you even have a job at this point? And what about your little girl? Do you think Donald Trump gives a rat’s petunia whether she ever gets the treatment she needs? Fat chance. He’s out on the golf course now, even as more Americans like you are dying each day than died on September 11, 2001. That’s how little you and your daughter mean to Donald Trump. The sad truth is that you’ve been had; hoodwinked; bamboozled; taken to the cleaners.
Donald Trump will soon be history. But you can be sure that the politics of anger, resentment and selfishness that put you in that long line of people in front of the hospital will live long after him in the new Republican party he made. I hope you can see through all of that. I hope you will come to understand that supporting the party of the 1% only keeps you at the bottom of the other 99%. I hope your love for your little girl and your desire to give her a better future prove stronger than your hatred of us “liberals,” immigrants, minorities and everyone else you blame for ruining your life. I hope you will finally figure out that I’m not your enemy and work with me for the kind of country I think we both want. Not that it should make any difference to me. I am well enough off and I will do just fine under the Republicans. But for the sake of your little girl, I am willing to be a little less well off. Donald Trump and his Republican supporters might call that socialism. But where I come from, it’s just called being a good neighbor.
Anyway, here’s wishing you a merry Christmas and a better new year. Give your little girl a hug for me.
Bleeding Heart Liberal.