Dear Members of Congress,
Hi. How are you doing today? My guess is that you've seen better days.
It can't be fun to be held responsible for the shutdown of the federal government.
It can't be fun to know that congress approval ratings have plummeted to a historic low.
But don't worry; I'm not here to write an uninformed angry blog post. There's enough of that on the Internet as it is.
But I am here to do something crazy.
I know that the chances of you reading this letter are slim, and the chances of you listening to me are even slimmer -- but hey! The federal government is already shut down. What do you have to lose?
If I have your attention, try this out:
I want you to put yourself in the shoes of your childhood self.
You're young. You're inspired.
You're not a congressman, congresswoman or senator.
You're not a Republican. You're not a Democrat.
The elephant and the donkey are nothing more than fluffy stuffed animals and intriguing creatures you've seen at the zoo.
You're just starting to learn about your state, about your country, about your world. Your teacher is just starting to explain the founding principles that make our country great. "All human beings are created equal. We're all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." You don't fully understand what this means, but it makes you feel proud.
And now I'll fast forward a few years.
You're a teenager, and you realize that the world isn't as perfect as it once seemed. You learn that equality doesn't exist the way you once thought. Instead, people tend to fear what is different, and because of this, there is conflict. You also see that there is injustice, that there is evil, and that there is hatred. This angers you, and you decide that your goal in life is to do something about it -- to be the change, to make a difference.
This causes you to pursue a career in public policy, to be the voice for the public, to help those in need.
But somewhere along the way, you became a playing piece in the vicious game of politics. You fell victim to the system and realized that being a change agent comes with a hefty price tag. You were forced to stop worrying about the issues at hand, and start focusing on financial backing, endorsements, and campaigning.
And here you are: the lead actor in a show that should be directed by the wants and needs of the people. But instead, you're a puppet -- a puppet dangling from strings controlled by wealthy super PACs, powerful associations, and influential corporations.
You vote for bills on behalf of the people who fund your campaign, rather than voting on behalf of the public.
And now, a line has been crossed.
You could have voted on a budget to prevent a government shutdown. You could have shown us that you have the overall public's best interest in mind, rather than the sole interest of your party or constituency. But instead, you intentionally used this shutdown as a tool to get your way -- as a ploy to attempt to win a battle you've already lost.
Yes, I'm talking about the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). We all know that some of you are against it, but it was passed three years ago and the Supreme Court already ruled on it.
So why are you punishing us all?
I live in D.C. Today I walked by tourists who came to this beautiful city to visit the historic sites. Sites like the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial, all of which were built to ignite pride and inspire us all to be better Americans and better people. Instead, these sites were closed.
And then there are the hundreds of thousands of government employees who are out of work. The next few weeks bring uncertainty to their families and unnecessary pressure as their source of income and livelihood is threatened.
You are meant to be the voice for these people. You were elected to make all of our lives better, not worse.
Therefore, on behalf of all Americans, I ask you to revert back to your childhood self, or to that young adult who pursued a career in government because you wanted to make a positive difference.
Swallow your pride. Set your political party aside, and do what is best for the public. If children can learn to compromise, shouldn't you do the same?
Lindsey Out Loud