The Least Among Us: Waging the Battle for the Vulnerable by Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (2017)
This congresswoman really impressed me when I was watching some of the C-SPAN coverage of her passionate commentary in favor of progressive values and in support of social justice. I had hoped for better, gripping, passionate writing in her book but was disappointed.
It reads more like a memoir that I expected. I thought it was going to cover substantial policy discussions “in the weeds” as has become the commonly used gag-reflexing golf analogy. The presumably editorial direction to have chapters arranged by mostly repetitive use of “In Defense of” is tiresome at best.
Chapters like “In defense of children, of women, of the hungry, and so on, are presented recounting some of the legislative action and negotiating at the time, such as in 2008. Well, that was nearly a decade ago and I am not sure anything relevant can be pulled out of journal notes or other contemporaneous documents. I think her voice and her passion is important to hear. Perhaps she will write another, organized around policy issues, using her details of what actually happened in service of the bigger picture.
Misogyny and Dogma Create Vulnerable People
In her conclusion, she describes “Ten Policies for an American Twenty-First Century.” The irony of her first sentence apparently missed an editorial eye. She begins talking about the 21st century by describing her attendance at the “installation” of Pope Francis in 2013. It was “a transformative experience,” she states. (p. 219)
She says that Pope Francis advocated for helping the “poor and vulnerable” and took that as an affirmation that her political pursuits for social justice were in short, a godly path.
Our hearts swelled: our church was affirming our social values, which we thought they had abandoned.
All due respect, your Catholic church does NOT support your or my social values. They are an institution created by men, for men and for the exploitation of the masses. They are the patriarchy that causes a life less well lived for women. The Catholic Church is responsible for thousands of years of death, slaughter, torture, and continues on that path.
Sexuality Controls by Dogma or Politicians is Indefensible
In defense of the children, the Pope should require that all men use condoms, especially in Africa where AIDs is rampant and has been for decades causing more misery and death than we can imagine from the luxury of our American lifestyles. But no, Pope Francis values wasted sperm more than life for the father or mother or child that might come from sexual relationships.
Similarly, she no doubt has used birth control for most of her adult life. This basic life saving (reality and metaphorically) right remains strictly prohibited by an out of touch religion. A religion with nothing but hatred for women, their bodily functions, and their ability to enjoy sexual pleasure without being punished with forced child bearing.
And of course, it is the Catholics and their obsession with women’s sex lives who spearheaded the way to denounce abortion under any and all circumstances. Between them and the evangelical zealots, all women should die in childbirth if necessary rather than preemptively take a medication to prevent or stop a few cells from ever joining, growing — even if it means the death of the “host.”
Catholic hospitals do not adhere to the Hippocratic oath; they answer to an angry god who does not want to let doctors perform vasectomies or tubal ligations, and certainly no abortions. For anyone to believe in the Catholic church doctrine completely while ignoring the unpleasant or unacceptable contemporary prohibitions on women, remains too cognitively dissonant for me to understand.
Why would their god allow human brains to invent contraception methods if they were not meant to be used? Why would any god worth worshipping allow for women to be raped every minute of every day? Why would any god allow children, so precious as blastocysts, be left to starve at the hands of the most self-proclaimed pro-lifers that have the power of the United States to prevent childhood starvation?
It’s All a Test of Faith, Not
She uses the familiar canard of the religious by not blaming her god for the misery she has to fight as a congresswoman.
Perhaps we are being tried so we can remember what we share. (p. 221)
I applaud her for fighting the good fight. I despair the willful blindness that god allows children to starve and women to die in childbirth as some kind of test of faith. That concept surely cannot exist in the same mind of anyone living in reality today. Surely only the people who want to drive women back to chattel and sex slavery in fact — even if called “marriage” think that such treatment is a god’s will?
If she expects some great epiphany among the Republican conservative zealots bound by false theology and ideology, she has a long wait. Pope Francis is just a rich and powerful man desperate to control the sex lives of millions of people based on ridiculous myths and creative self-interest dictates that have only survived for these thousands of years by brutal enforcement of their dogma.
As we have seen in recent weeks, just by proclaiming themselves Christians, Republicans get all the devotion of other deluded zealots without a blink of an eye when they turn out to be sexual predators of children. They are still “better than a Democrat” who believes that women are fully human deserving of the right to bodily autonomy promised in the 14th Amendment.
Fighting the Good Fight for Social Justice
The congresswoman herself is clearly living a worthy life fighting for the poor and the vulnerable. She absolutely deserves admiration on that point. She believes children should not starve, that sick people should get medical care, and that governmental social safety net programs are necessary for the common good.
Incrementalism: Failure to Progress
I have a hard time hating the sin and not the sinner, especially when they are hypocrites of the first order like so many Republicans. It’s a good thing when people like the author fight back. But she needs to fight with much bigger weapons. Adjusting the Child Tax Credit is not going to help anyone too poor to even owe taxes.
A minimum wage of $15 an hour would be nice, but it is no longer a living wage anyway. This is typical of so much politics. Why not do something bigger? Corporations could all be required to do profit-sharing with employees for one thing. Workers should have at least 20% of the corporation board seats to be sure that they have a voice in corporate decisions. Heck maybe 51% of the seats should be workers.
Corporations should have to pay taxes like we little people do under peril of jail. A massive change in the tax code, the financial markets, and so much more is needed but will never be broached even by the current batch of neoliberal Democrats who may as well be Republicans, albeit the old school kind, not the nut case extremists running amok now.
Why not just kiss the illusion of “free” market and supply and demand “rule” goodbye and recognize that these are not economics for the common good. People, employees, are not commodities to be treated as if they were snow shovels. (see Economism Part 1 and Part 2)
Big Changes are Needed
Medical care (deductibles, copays, or basic treatment without insurance) cannot be budgeted for when you are living paycheck to paycheck. Yet she sings the praises of the ACA also known as Obamacare. Even Medicare has plenty of flaws. Single payer is the only way to serve all citizens. But that is too 21st century for her and most other Democrats.
And lastly (though there is much more in the middle that could be changed to good effect) let’s talk about STOPPING THE UNDECLARED WARS in other countries where we can never win, cannot hide, and cannot leave because the people have been killing each other since the beginning of time — mostly over RELIGION of all the stupid things to kill for — and stop spending all our money on profiteering military industrial complex corporations. Stop providing billions of dollars of subsidies to planet killing and people killing corporations that are polluting and destroying the planet and poisoning us all, including tobacco manufacturers who produce known killer products that cost the lives and money of millions and millions of people every year.
Tobacco subsidies and fossil fuel global multinational corporations and the likes of Halliburton getting subsidies and inflated no-bid contracts represent the very definition of insanity.
Unfortunately, this book does not show her taking on the systemic abuse of the poor and vulnerable perpetuated by the government for the benefit of the rich and corporate interests. But then, NONE OF THE POLITICIANS do that. At least her heart is in the right place.