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Letter: Watch what they do more so than what they say

Many years ago, my husband and I were house parents in a group home in the Bronx, New York. The teenaged girls who lived at our program were struggling with truancy, acting out behaviors and family dysfunction. We provided a therapeutic milieu while social workers worked with families so that the girls could return home. Before any girl was placed with us, she lived with us on a few days trial basis.  Sometimes, a girl would be negative and say inappropriate or challenging things. Our supervisor, Sister Sheila Kelly, would then tell us, “Don’t worry so much about what they say, watch what they do.” I learned that this was a very valuable way to assess all kinds of situations, including present day politicians and political parties.

Recently in his column Brad Kramer alleged that the Democrats are “elitist” and by extension the Republican Party is now the party of working people. I guess I would refer back to Sister Sheila’s wisdom and say: pay attention to what they do. 

Raising the minimum wage would improve the lives of many working families. Democrats in their recent stimulus bill would raise the federal minimum wage. The Republican Party continues to represent the interests of big business, working to keep wages down. According to Forbes Magazine March 3, fully 40% of Republicans polled don’t want to raise the minimum wage at all, and the rest just a little.

Unions helped build the middle class and were instrumental in abolishing child labor and establishing a 40-hour work week, paid vacation and holiday time, sick time, worker safety and other worker-based benefits. Republican politicians and the judges whom they appoint have been busy undermining unions and the protections they provide (i.e. 2018 conservative Supreme Court ruling Janus vs AFSCME).

Democrats work to make voting easier and more convenient for working people. Republicans in the last election shut down polling places forcing working people to stand in line for hours (losing pay) to vote. Republican legislatures in states such as Texas and Georgia have shortened the hours that people can vote in person and have made it more difficult to vote by mail. This is not only anti-democracy, but also an assault on the voting rights of working people. 

Several years ago, former President Trump and the Republican Congress passed a tax bill cutting taxes for the rich. They still subscribe to the discredited trickle-down economic theory, which has widened the gap between rich and poor and has shrunk the middle class. President Biden and a Democratic Congress are working to raise taxes on the rich and on Wall Street and initiating policies which will support the well-being of working families.

Democrats initiated and continue to support Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, environmental protections, health care and public education. Republicans actively work to weaken or eliminate these programs.

Choose fact over fiction, action over rhetoric — watch what they do and vote for Democratic values.

Mary Hinnenkamp

Albert Lea

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