An Open Letter to Congress From a Misguided Millennial
To The Esteemed Members of Congress,
At the age of 24, I have been incredibly fortunate. I grew up in a middle class family with access to excellent public education. My town was safe, and my area economically viable. There was even plenty of beautiful land set aside for the public to enjoy nature. I could get medical care if I needed it, and I had plenty of room to grow. I recognize of course the role white privilege likely played in my life, and understand that just next door was the city of Lawrence, which has had its own struggles.
That said, I grew up in one of the bluest of the blue states: Massachusetts. As I watched with frustration over the past week and how it has led to the shut down of the federal government, I kept thinking back to my own state. Government can and often does work, rarely perfectly, and usually with some frustrating paperwork, but it can work. Solving our issues as a country, must come first with admitting this.
Massachusetts is home to many of the great icons of liberal politics. The Kennedys, Tip O’Niel, John Kerry, and Deval Patrick are amongst the most visible examples. Many red states probably look at us and ask: “How could such a liberal place be functional?” My response is quite easily. Our human development index is second in the nation, only behind Connecticut. The school system in Massachusetts is amongst the best in the country. If you don’t believe me, ask Mitt Romney. The notable Republicans that are produced by Massachusetts politics such as Scott Brown and Romney himself (who it should be noted, was unfortunately a chameleon during his presidential bid) historically tend to be moderate and sensible. Brown was ranked amongst the most bipartisan of senators and Romney championed what would form the basis of Obamacare. Massachusetts has a long history of moderate republicans and sensible liberals, and it has created a great place to live as a result. Most importantly, it is evidence that despite the typical troubling issues that can plague politics in any state, government can work.
The anti government extremist portion of the Republican Party that dominates the House of Representatives is not terrible, or horrific, it is instead sad. Not in a condescending way, but in the most honest form of sadness one can feel over politics. Many of the house Republicans come from states take in more money from the federal government than they give back. In comparison, blue states tend to do the opposite. There are intangibles such as the access to the ocean that must be considered, but the point stands. Whether they legitimately believe the anti government meme or are simply using it as a way to gather votes, it is sad to have lost a sensible opposition party.
Government can work, as we’ve seen in the greatly improved environment across the country. One of the individuals (who I’ll likely find in the comments section of this article) whom I typically joust with in my science articles likes to bring up the idea that environmental issues he had heard of in the past didn’t pan out. To be quite frank, that is because many of these issues were directly engaged, and they're damage mitigated. The 1986 Montreal Protocol championed by Reagan and Thatcher to confront the trouble of rapidly depleting ozone layer is just one such example. The Clean Air Act is projected to produce net positive economic benefit of approximately 2 trillion dollars by 2020. That sounds like good business.
There are good people who are about to be furloughed. People who have dedicated their lives and careers to the public good. People who do work that inspires us such as NASA, who will now furlough 97% of its work force. Agencies who for better or worse work to keep us safe in the Environmental Protection Agency and the FBI, will be forced to furlough workers. I am not saying that government always works, and as we speak there are serious issues where its power must be checked. Government has worked in Massachusetts, having produced a genuinely better standard of living than almost the entire rest of the country. It is time to push petty politics aside and admit government can work, and work on making it so.
Another Misguided Millennial