Fight for My Working Family
7 Tips for Gore, if he Actually Believed his own Nonsense
NewsForChange.com, August 17, 2000
"Is this a great country or what?!"
Well, sure, if I was nominated for vice president, this here would be one hell of a country. Even if it was North Korea, or Spain or something.
If there is one political trend more annoying than the equating of personal power with "democratic opportunity," it's the New New-Democrat mantra of "fighting for working families." I don't watch the political teevee anymore, because it's getting impossible not to see dot-com Yalie super-lawyers like DNC National Chair Joe Andrew deliver pious lectures about "fighting for working families."
During this filthy week, when California Governor Gray Davis and all his pro-execution New Democrats are squeezing scores of millions of dollars from parties in the Hollywood Hills (in Davis' case, it's to add to his $21 million war chest for the election in 2002), when a standing army of 5,000 separates citizens from their elected representatives, to hear paean after paean to the noble "working family" is nothing short of obscene.
But hell, I belong to a "working family" -- an attractive lower-middle class one, too -- so I'd like to take this opportunity to inform Al Gore what he can specifically do to "fight" for me and my wife.
1) Reform or dismantle the Immigration and Naturalization Service. My wife is French. We've been married for three years, lived in the States since March 1998, and yet she still has to apply for a $95 "advanced parole" every time she wants to leave the country, and after flying back from France she still has to wait in terror for an average of three hours in the special airport INS dark room, where she gets to listen to the jolly and congenitally stupid INS employees make fun of people's hard-to-pronounce name, or yell "Dick!? Dick!?" and bust up laughing, or make animal cartoon noises in lieu of actually helping any of the hysterical humans who don't know if a rogue agent will stamp their passport with an unappealable "no-entry" order. Green cards take an average of three years to process now, and require at least a dozen infuriating brush-ups with a bureaucracy that is worse than a Central European post office, even (as in our case) the "immigrant" is a spouse, and earns her money from abroad. True, these hassles are a direct result of the Republican-led anti-immigration hysteria of the mid-1990s. But. The INS is a branch of the Justice Department, which is part of the Executive Branch, overseen by the President. Under Clinton/Gore, the INS has become the worst government agency I have ever seen.
2) Expand health care to cover the 46 million uninsured Americans, like me. I am 32, never sick, play tennis or go to the Y now and then, yet I cannot get health insurance in this country, unless I apply for that "last-chance loser" government stuff, where I pay more than $250 a month yet am not covered for catastrophic illness. I was turned down by Kaiser, and an insurance agent recently informed me that because I didn't appeal the decision fast enough (I was too pissed off), I am screwed. This makes my wife nervous, and forces me to seriously consider having a full-time job, which would force me to leave my "working family" every day, and probably drive my car in Los Angeles. Nevermind that allowing the current state of affairs to get worse (which is what Clinton/Gore have done) is unconscionable: let's just stick to my personal case.
3) Do something concrete, besides mouthing platitudes, to improve the miserable quality of public education in this country. I honestly don't care so much what it takes -- centralization, decentralization, vouchers, textbooks, whatever. I think the federal government should guarantee a quality of K-12 education about 30% better than the crap we've got now, and not be shy about challenging teacher unions to get there. Democrats have been running the education establishment for decades now, and it sucks. If our working family is to stay in this country, there must be public schools that won't turn our child(ren) into bored and unchallenged little brats.
4) Stop wasting taxpayer money telling us not to smoke. We know it's bad for us (I still indulge on occasion), and that money could be spent doing things like eradicating syphillis.
5) Remove every and all trade barriers to French cheeses, wines, goose livers and produce; plus Mexican avocados, as well as that protectionist crap that classifies all Czech and most German beers as "malt liquors." Let us eat and drink like humans, not like assembly-line robots (who are the only entities I can imagine enjoying an Albertsons tomato).
6) Shut up already about God. OK, this doesn't have a necessarily direct impact on our working family, but both France and America were founded on certain principles of church/state separation, and the scriptures are filled with exhortations not to broadcast your faith on a megaphone, or declare June 21 "Jesus Day," or whatever. It's unseemly, and insulting.
7) End the War on Drugs. We are spending too much money ruining people's lives for committing the kind of non-violent crimes some of our friends commit every day. While our friends (and politicians) will likely never be arrested, the fact that lower-class Blacks and Latinos are suffering inequal punishment for equal crimes is a civil rights violation, and I don't want my tax bills supporting it.
That's seven policies for the future, and I didn't even include abolishing the Death Penalty. Sure, our views are a bit specialized, but I'm guessing the average "working family" shares at least half of our list of demands. So when Al Gore stands up tonight to pound his fist and do that Tennessee growl when he pronounces the word "fight" in front of "working families," pause for a moment and imagine what it might be like if he remotely believed a single word he said.