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In fundraising email after fundraising email, Democratic candidates say things like, “People need healthcare! Please donate to my campaign!” Even newly-elected officials send these fundraising requests, always asking for contributions toward their next campaign years down the line. The problem is that most of these “leaders” still haven't come out publicly in support of Medicare for All or any other type of universal healthcare program.

But “Please rush a donation now!”

Their emails are non sequiturs. Acknowledging a need while promising not to address it isn't the incentive conservative Democratic politicians seem to think it is. 

I reply to such requests with, “It’s not complicated. We need universal healthcare. It’s a basic human right.”

It’s not as if I can encourage all my friends to donate in my place. “Hey! Donate to this guy! He promises not to listen to his constituents!”

I keep saying the same things over and over, either to the candidates, my elected representatives, or my conservative Democratic friends. Am I wasting my breath? Am I beating my head against a brick wall?

If demanding that public servants serve the public is a waste of time, keeping silent while millions suffer is a waste of life.

Only a handful of issues are truly "essential," so I’m limited to how many points I can make. I worry my essays and conversations are no more than anagrams. I keep rearranging the issues and solutions, hoping that one arrangement finally makes sense to someone.

Some desperately poor coworkers and friends of mine do donate to candidates who say, “People need healthcare!”

A friend of mine, a small business owner, complains that Democrats don’t care about her, that they keep raising her taxes while providing taxpayer-funded services to the poor.

She’s not entirely wrong. The problem is that she thinks denying even limited services to the poor would help her business grow. She’s been trained by leaders of both major parties and by corporate media to believe only two options exist. It never occurs to her that we could demand the wealthy pay higher taxes, that we require corporations to pay their fair share, too.

In my city, public transportation throughout the downtown sector was completely free to passengers for many years. Then budget cuts required that folks begin paying. When the pandemic struck, fares were abandoned altogether, downtown and throughout the county. No one was even allowed to board through the front door.

Homeless people began riding more often, sleeping or seeking shelter from the rain. And I began hearing, “We need to start charging fares again or we’ll just be transporting homeless people around all day.”

That’s only a danger because we refuse to address homelessness itself. We price the poor out of living within city limits, and then we place another heavy financial burden (and time constraint) on them by making them pay for long commutes to and from work. And we can’t remedy that injustice against the working class because we keep refusing to address the greater injustice of why homeless people are riding the bus competing for seats.

Of course, transit has to be financed by someone. We’re simply channeled to believe this can only be accomplished by charging low-wage workers.

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One of my bosses, who operated a business in a low-income neighborhood, complained regularly about homeless people urinating and defecating in the parking lot behind his store. Yet he also complained whenever I allowed a homeless person to use the bathroom our paying customers used. Short of incarcerating half a million or more homeless people, or executing them all, we have no other choice but to put up with their urine and excrement.

Unless, of course, we choose to address natural biological functions.

What would the cost of long-term incarceration for half a million people be compared to the cost of establishing public toilets across the country and paying employees to clean them? What’s the cost of leaving human waste throughout our cities? What’s the impact on business revenue when customers won’t shop in certain areas because we ensure those neighborhoods will be filthy and repulsive?

What’s the toll on the mental health of every citizen when we live in a society that treats fellow humans like shit?

We don’t like folks shoplifting, but what is a menstruating woman supposed to do if she can’t earn a living wage? If she can barely pay her rent, she’s not going to be able to afford sanitary napkins or tampons.

In Sunday School, I was taught to keep the Sabbath day holy. We weren’t supposed to work unless we “had” to. Cows needed milking every day, so milking one’s cows was acceptable. If your ox fell in the ditch, you didn’t have to wait until Monday to pull him out.

The sin, my teacher explained, was in spending all day Saturday pushing the ox into the ditch.

The system isn’t broken. It’s been designed this way. When people are forced to concentrate all their energy on getting one more meal on the table, they aren’t in a position to demand a bathroom, to demand an EpiPen. We’re so consumed with literal survival that we don’t have the time, energy, or funds necessary to demand accountability of our elected officials.

That’s the way they want it. Our desperation serves them, offers them security.

Some desperately poor coworkers and friends of mine do donate to candidates who say, “People need healthcare!”

“He gets us,” they tell me.

“Yes,” I agree. “He’s got you. Right where he wants you.” A better term for this fundraising technique might be “extortion.”

Power is never granted freely, not even by the politicians “on our side.” If we want basic human rights, for us and our fellow citizens, we can’t keep taking “Later” for an answer.

Johnny Townsend

I’ll continue sending these anagrams to the politicians who petition me, and I encourage my friends to send anagrams, too.

  • Or simply, “DON’T GIVE UP!

Johnny Townsend