by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
July 10, 2009
A few days ago, a citizen asked the progressive legislator from California, Congressman Henry Waxman why he took his name off the list of about Eighty House sponsors of single-payer health insurance? Mr. Waxman replied: “it [H.R. 676] isn’t going to happen.”
In early January and last year, Americans who believe in Presidential accountability for constitutional, statutory and treaty violations asked Democrats in Congress—“If not impeachment, why not at least a resolution of censure of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney?” The uniform reply was “It’s not practical.”
These lawmakers—Democrats all, who are the majority in Congress and who agree with these questioners—keep saying “It’s not going to happen” or “It’s not practical.”
“It’s just not practical” to provide a federal minimum wage equal to that in 1968, inflation adjusted, which would be $10 an hour.
“It’s not going to happen” to get comprehensive corporate reform at a time when a corporate crime wave and the Wall Street multi-trillion dollar collapse on Washington, on taxpayers and on the economy is tearing this country apart. A little regulatory tinkering is all citizens are told to expect.
“It’s just not practical” to give workers, consumers and taxpayers simple facilities for banding together in associations with their own voluntary dues to defend these interests in the corporate occupied territory known as Washington, D.C.
Last year, the excuse was a Bush veto. So the Democrats didn’t even try to advance reforms they believe in, knowing Bush and his Republican Party would stonewall. What’s the excuse this year with Obama in the White House?
After all, it was only a year and a half ago when nominating and then electing an African-American President was “not going to happen, was not practical.”
But since it did happen, why aren’t these and many other long overdue beneficial redirections and efficiencies happening for the American people? Why aren’t there rollbacks, at least, of the Bush-driven inequities and injustices that have so damaged the well-being of working people?
Why isn’t a simpler and more efficient carbon tax more “practical” than the complex corruption-prone, corporatized cap and trade deal driven by Goldman Sachs and favored by most Democrats? The avaricious tax cuts for the super-wealthy are still there.
The statutory ban on Uncle Sam negotiating volume discounts on medicines purchased by the federal government are still there. Taking the huge budgets for the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan off their annual fast track, and putting them a meaningful House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearing process has not happened.
Face it, America. You are a corporate-controlled country with the symbols of democracy in the constitution and statutes just that—symbols of what the founding fathers believed or hoped would be reality.
Even when the global corporate giants come to Washington dripping with crime, greed, speculation and cover-ups, and demand gigantic bailouts on the backs of taxpayers and their children, neither the Republicans nor the now majority Democrats are willing to face them down.
The best of America started with our forebears who faced down those who told them “it’s not going to happen,” or “it’s not practical” to abolish slavery, give women the right to vote, elevate the conditions of workers and farmers, provide social security and medicare, make the air and water less polluted and so on. These pioneers, with grit and persistence, told their members of Congress and Presidents—“It is going to happen.”
To paraphrase the words of a great man, the late Reverend William Sloan Coffin, it is as if those legendary stalwarts from our past, knowing how much more there is to achieve a practical, just society, are calling out to us, the people today, and saying “get it done, get it done!”