OPEN LETTER TO
Dear Representative Ocasio-Cortez,
Recent political articles and media coverage have focused on Democratic leaderships’ moves to destroy your favored representative status. The timing is not lost on us observers.
The election of Joe Biden was a masterful stroke by the Democrat Party establishment. It was used, and is being used, to regain control. With Biden’s election secure, many moves have been made to quash the left-leaning Progressives including ignoring the fact that the left-wing of the party totally ran the primary season and that, much more than the Centrists and Blue Dogs, the left-wing turned out unprecedented votes for Biden.
Trump, that hated icon on the right, won office on the promise to drain the swamp. He massively disrupted the establishment’s rules, customs, and traditions, but underestimated the power of the swamp to strike back.
To me, it appears that you are currently facing that same dynamic.
The establishment is striking back trying to return to unfettered control of not only the Democrat’s Party Structure, but also of all points of power in the House of Representatives. After all, they have two years before they have to face the voters again. That is how our broken political systems keep their power, prestige, and nearly authoritarian control within the House of Representatives.
When you burst on the political scene by eliminating Representative Joe Crowley, a skilled power player in the House of Representatives and Democratic Caucus Chairman of the United States House of Representatives, the fourth-highest leadership position in the House Democratic Caucus, I think the whole country sat up and took note. Certainly, the Democratic Party power structure took note.
Joe Crowley, a “corporate Democratic,” represented the Washington establishment’s power structures that many of us had grown to despise. I had already begun to study how those power structures kept a lock on the legislative branch and the two-party system.
My interest in your rise and people power, unlike others such as Saikat Chakrabarti and the Justice Democrats, was not in how you succeeded in replacing Representative Crowley but how the power structures inside and outside of the House of Representatives would treat you.
You could teach us all a lot about how that happens.
Certainly, the current articles site your displeasure with the establishment players and outline the ways they are in fact actively striking back. You appear to be under a sustained attack by the current political systems both the Republican power structures and the Democratic power structures.
Due to my interest in how the systems co-opt new politicians into their brokenness, it is clear they quickly work to ensure that new legislators become subservient players - not the disruptors many of you campaigned to be. I also have watched to see if you could maintain your political beliefs and agendas when faced with pressure to conform to the tightly held current political systems, traditions, and customs, and the rules designed to keep veterans of the power structure in control of new upstarts.
Chakrabarti and others around you have been masters at positioning you within the system and trying to protect your personal power and politics. The following quote is clear evidence of their thinking and skills.
"Don't expect them to back down . . . Another thing to really do over the next two years is to basically show the American people what will be possible if the Democrats win the House, the Senate, and the presidency in 2020, and that means putting our best foot forward. It means putting the most ambitious, the boldest, the biggest things we can, and then just build a movement around that."
(Zaid Jilani, Ryan Grim, July 1, 2018, The Intercept: "Data Suggest That Gentrifying Neighborhoods
Powered Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Victory.”)
Note, the above quote is still power based not reform based. It is a strategy for working within the broken system that most of we the people despise.
It is perpetuating the us/them fight and flight which has displaced the founding fathers’ dreams – the story in their heads as they set out on the grand American experiment. Unfortunately, it has produced the very danger George Washington declared would erode liberty and slowly kill our supposed to be “representative” democratic republic.
Until we change the story - the negative expectations of both the political powers and now “we the people” - we will not be able to change our downward spiral of behavior. To survive we must change the story. I believe you with your political agenda are very aware of that fact.
The downside? Changing the story requires both parties accepting the same changed story. The new story will also need to be adopted by “we the people”, especially the unaffiliated, non-partisans, and the disenfranchised.
In the last two presidential elections, “we the people” sent the message that we believe our political systems are broken. Our votes have been more about who we are against rather than who we are for. No candidate has walked away with a mandate to govern. The number of votes remains too close to call the slim, nearly non-existent majority, a mandate. Add in the persons who voted their unhappiness with the current political systems, rules, traditions, and customs by refusing to vote, a majority vote does not even represent a majority of the eligible voters.
The punishing votes against Democrats in the House of Representatives while simultaneously voting disgust with the President, also tells us “we the people” are voting against what is broken, what has disenfranchised the grassroots and created the current political desert pockmarked and scarred by the adversarial power structures that are destroying our beloved nation.
I realize, that as long as the political story remains an us/them power struggle, you have to deal with the House Rules, Customs, and Traditions that have turned that legislative body into an authoritarian structure.
But we need you and the other change agents who have been elected, in your case even survived one term despite the dictatorship - the legislators who came to Congress to promote a healthier, citizen focused politics - to join a movement to change the story despite your wildly different visions for America.
A broken political system cannot change itself.
There is too much power, position, and prestige to be lost. But together, we can change the story from the outside-in, especially with a parallel group working on the inside. Change and reform of our government’s political behavior is possible.
Alexandra, please share with us the problems and opposition you have faced, and again face. We want to be careful to not re-duplicate those dynamics.
If you know other legislators who are willing to share their stories, that would also be valuable. I can protect their identities. Crafting words to protect the victims or potential victims is one of my strongest abilities.
Help us empower the people across party lines despite our wildly opposing political agendas. Together, we can help force reforms that free you and all of our representatives to legislate by dialog and discover the common good rather than continue to be victimized by behind closed doors power plays.
for the 5% Movement for Political Reform,
William L. Silvaneus