Hello Deb. Hello Ben.
You might know me as the guy from Hebron who occasionally leaves late-night voicemails at your offices because the anxiety that comes with speaking to a real, human staffer is an insurmountable hurdle. I called you about several nominations Trump made to seats within our government, since you were enthusiastic about attaching your name to this rolling tire fire and take my great state with you. Unsurprisingly, you continued to confirm his nominations—for reasons we can probably assume have more to do with staying in the good graces of your Republican colleagues and financiers than acting in the best interests of your constituents.
Let’s make one thing absolutely clear, though:
This isn’t a letter based on partisanship. I’ve had respect for some republicans, including previous occupants of your very offices. Good politics can come from many places and it’s this diversity of ideas that should make America a fine-tuned machine.
No, the intention of this letter is to ask how the ideas and politics you support can ever possibly provide an opportunity for stability for constituents and Americans like me.
There’s a lot to criticize you on. But the focus for now should be healthcare.
Deb, you promised five years ago that you wouldn’t cut benefits and “steal $700 billion from Medicare.” Only two months ago, you promised the GOP would introduce legislation to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with a plan that wouldn’t harm the families who currently depend on it.
How can you square these statements with the plan your colleagues just introduced, one that will result in exacerbating the opioid addiction crisis happening across America, and will put children, the elderly, and people with disabilities at risk of losing all access to healthcare?
Ben, you’ve stood up to your party on their failure of a plan, stood up to Trump even when his operatives tried to accuse you of pedophilia, and admitted your party has failed to comprehend the changing landscape of employment and its effect on workers being insured.
Yet you’re still willing to toe the line by blaming coal’s decline on Obama’s policies rather than its real causes. When push comes to shove, will you really defend the vulnerable—even if it earns you the ire of your fundraisers?
Both of you have used the most vulnerable Americans as rhetorical tools to earn trust from constituents. Whether or not you follow through is something we’ll see in the coming months.
What I want you to consider is how any plan you support can guarantee this constituent survives your tenure.
I’ve written extensively about my situation in the past, but I understand your time is valuable. So, here’s a summary:
Nebraska has been my home for the majority of my life. Born in Hebron, I lived in and around Hebron until graduating high school. In that time, I held several jobs ranging from detasseling and roguing at 13, to washing laundry at 17 in a care facility for adults who couldn’t live independently. All of this was alongside helping my grandfather manager his farm, a life-long job. I left for college at the University of Kansas, where my mental health problems first surfaced as family and friends started passing away. After several more job changes, suicide attempts, and a stay in a mental health facility, I returned to this state in 2013 with a job at Apple and a pathway to treatment for my mental health issues.
Four years later, my days are devoted to manager my grandfather’s farm and taking care of my grandfather. I have no access to medications or treatment as I have no insurance; I’ve applied for dozens of jobs without a callback and couldn’t work a job if I did get that call due to my grandfather’s worsening state and the needs of our farm. The farm work provides no income for me, as it all goes to my grandfather—and the net profit from the farm couldn’t cover the costs of healthcare for me without putting my grandfather in an unlivable situation.
Obamacare didn’t help me. I can admit that. While I know a mountain of people personally who may not be alive today without the program, my situation wasn’t covered by Obamacare due to our governor rejecting the expansion of Medicaid despite the clear needs of our citizens.
What I want to know is this:
Deb Fischer, can you promise the plan you ultimately support will help people in my situation, won’t destroy the Medicare my grandfather relies on, and will protect the people whose lives were saved by Obamacare?
Ben Sasse, will you set aside the party line and work to help farmers as much as coal workers, so our crops can see a return large enough that I could afford healthcare until you feel your party has produced something you’re proud to support?
Do both of you promise that constituents, citizens, Nebraskans like myself matter?
Will you fight as hard as I have to make sure I survive?