By Bo Greene
Nine days ago, I sat so close to you that our chairs touched. For over an hour, I watched you listen, I watched you take notes and make eye contact with the designated storytellers in our Indivisible MDI group. You were a pro. I was proud to be there.
You said you agreed with almost every concern we shared with you. You smiled, you told us how impressive our efforts were, how much you appreciated our taking the time to meet with you the day before Thanksgiving. I listened carefully to you.
You said there were amendments that could mitigate some of the admittedly horrible stuff in the tax bill. You said the process wasn’t as bad as the one for health care, but it was far from regular order.
You said you shared our concerns — impacts on small business, education, health care. You said you care deeply about Mainers, who are certainly not, for the most part, part of “the 1 percent.” In hindsight, we should have pressured you about the morality of it all, but you seemed so reasonable and caring that we assumed your morals were the same as our morals. We were wrong. You lied. You can’t possibly care as you said you did and have voted as you did.
There are countless reasons the tax bill should have appalled you, yet you chose to focus on a few issues that you apparently thought would make the cruel and damaging bill palatable.
You previously stood tall against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, for which we lavished you with praise. You know that the only way for the ACA to work is to have all three premises of the bill working together: premiums based on age, not health; an individual mandate so that healthy and sick people are all part of the pool; and subsidizing coverage for people who simply cannot afford it on their own. You cannot support the ACA and then tolerate the removal of one of the three legs that makes the whole thing work.
Rather than the mandate, you chose instead to focus on the Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson bills. No matter whether these bills pass, this is the sabotage of the ACA that Trump has wanted all along. But if it looked as if you got your way on health care, that you stood up to the big boys, then apparently you felt okay about supporting the entire tax bill, a bill whose other provisions are terrible for middle and lower-class Americans, for our democracy and for the planet.
It’s important that you realize you have not pulled the wool over any of your constituents’ eyes. You’ve sold us out, bargained with the souls which we poured out to you, not just my group last week, but thousands of us, calling, texting, emailing, faxing, showing up at all your offices. We’re sharing our stories and the fears that keep us awake at night.
Don’t try and tell us you’ve gotten the same amount pressure from other Mainers to support the bill. We talk to your staffers more than you do. We know where the pressure has come from, and you have chosen party over people, donors over doers.
You are supporting your party’s desire for a segregated society where education and opportunity, even health care, are available only to the wealthy.
Do you think any American should have confidence in the process by which a 5,000-page bill was handed to senators an hour before it was to be voted on? We would object to this order at a Girl Scout meeting, let alone a massive piece of legislation that will affect every single American for decades.
That black cashmere sweater of mine that was literally touching your baby blue wool jacket at our meeting last week? That was my mom’s. She was a lifelong Republican.
I don’t need her to be with us now to know how she would feel about your choice to hurt millions of people so that your party could have its way. She would not support you on this one. She would welcome paying her taxes to support the social structures we need. She would fume with anger at the struggle her grandchildren will face trying to earn advanced degrees, like the one she was so proud to get while carrying her 11th child.
The “trickle down” from cutting the corporate tax rate will not stimulate our economy. It never has. Even CEOs admit they will not expand and create jobs. It’s a sham.
You do not need money from the party. If you did the right thing, you could run a re-election campaign on my teacher’s salary because we want to like you, to support you, to brag about our moderate, sensible senator.
You could be our hero, just like you acted last week when you told us how much you cared. But for reasons that are impossible for hardworking, independent Mainers to understand, you have decided to abandon us and stand with greedy, out-of-touch politicians and millionaires whose only agenda is creating an ever-widening gap between themselves and the rest of us.
The view over here, on this side of the gap, in the beautiful, proud, state of Maine, is a hell of a lot nicer. Too bad you’ve turned your back and can’t see it.
Bo Greene is a mom, a teacher and a member of Indivisible MDI. She lives in Bar Harbor.