Ninety-Nine Percent Paulsen (leaked communication from the Committee to Elect Republicans to Congress)

Dear Erik,

That’s the branding me and the boys on the committee have come up with for your part in a new campaign initiative we’ve cooked up. This initiative should make it a lot easier for Republican candidates this election year who, like you, are afraid to hold town hall meetings to defend your votes, and reveal to their constituents what spineless cowards you are. It does this by taking away a lot of the pain involved in campaigning, allowing you access to the latest Republican strategies for distracting the voters from what you’ve actually done for them and, in your case, from the fact you haven’t really done much of anything at all, other than suck up to the money guys.

We call this initiative the Ninety-Nine Percent Club, and it’s open to Republicans in Congress who’ve sided with our history-making President at least ninety-nine percent of the time. You are receiving this communication because, Erik, already on your own you’ve racked up impressive stats in that sucking-up category. Based on your performance to date, I and the boys on the committee are confident that you have the courage, or rather lack of it, that will enable you to become a full-fledged member of the Ninety-Nine Percent Club, and enjoy all its benefits and privileges.

Naturally you will need to re-commit yourself to Republican party principles, especially the one that them that has must always have more, and the devil take the hindmost. You’ve already done pretty well in that department, haven’t you Erik?

But although we can sympathize with your desire not to meet with or listen to anyone unless they have a lot of money, you might want to take some steps to avoid leaving the impression that you’re a ginormous tool: of big money, big corporations, Republican donors and, above all, of our history-making President, whose boots you’ve helped polish to a fine spittle sheen.

And it goes without saying that you will need to up your loyalty quotient to our history-making President. Ninety-seven or ninety-eight percent is a good start, but you’ll need to up your game to join the Ninety-Nine Percent Club. Just vote for anything our history-making President supports; we’ll read the bill for you so you don’t have to, and score it according to how much it pays to you and your donors.

We also have ready a pre-set strategy to distract the voters from paying attention to any of the multitude of shortcomings you exhibit as a waste of space in Washington, or your near slavish subservience to our history-making President.  This will involve a heavy dose of good old-fashioned Republican scare tactics and conspiracy theories, tactics especially useful for this election year. Some of the conspiracy theories to be aired, in addition to the spooky Deeeep State, will include:

That the Democrats want to eliminate Christmas (again), and replace it with Gay Pride Day, where everyone has to attend a same-sex wedding, and enjoy it.

That the Democrats will require every American household to host, free of charge, at least one MS-13 gang member for life, or death, whichever comes first.

And, that the Democrats plan to release a gang of flying attack monkeys who’ve been converted to Islam, to spread Sharia law across the country.

Of course, we’ll sprinkle all this with generous helpings of Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barack Hussein Obama, Stephen Colbert, Democratic Deeeep State spies, the janitor who cleans your office, the Tooth Fairy, and/or Puff the Magic Dragon. Distraction’s always worked wonders for you in the past, Erik; why fix it if it ain’t broke?

That’s what we’ve come up with so far, Erik, but I’m sure we’ll come up with more crazy stuff as the campaign progresses.  We’ll need to do this sooner or later in the campaign, that is, throw everything at Phillips to see what sticks.

We have to do this, because, Erik, let’s face it, otherwise, we got nothing.

As to what we’re for, other than more money for the rich, we can point to our current proposal to amend the Constitution so as to remove all the text except for the Second Amendment; we don’t pay attention to all that other stuff in there, anyway. In addition, we propose to translate the Second Amendment into Russian, for the benefit of some of our biggest donors.

And, last but not least, membership in the Ninety-Nine Percent Club entitles you to an automatic promotion from boot-licker to ring-kisser of our history-making President.

I’d like to spend more time with you about this initiative, Erik, but me and the boys on the committee have a meeting this morning with our defense attorneys.  Here’s hoping the money pours in for you, and that we stay out of jail.

Sterling Weezil,

Ninety-Nine Percent Club Campaign Coordinator

A Purpose for Politics

Like many of my fellow Democrats, I was thrown into a tailspin on election night 2016. Like a rocket built with Trump steel struggling to reach orbit, the worldview I had constructed crashed. My news obsession peaked, and the severe consequences of the Hillary Clinton loss materialized into some ugly truths. How painful that tiny finger has become that Trump masterfully pokes into the eye of every progressive across the country with each Tweet, each policy brief, or each rambling interview on the nightly news.

But, while we agonize, there is also a deep sense for many people, here and around the country, that someone at the top is finally looking out for them. Even some long-time Democratic voters feel this way. I’ve spoken to a couple people who really hear Trump. They understand his logic, his vernacular, and his faux populism. The policy agenda that to me appears to be hurtling America toward a seventh Trump bankruptcy, feels to others like a righteous smite upon the bastions of power–those who relish political correctness, redistribution, and high taxes.

The release from my agony, I decided, was to divorce myself from the daily news cycle, to use my time more wisely by reading history and learning more deeply about the America that surrounded me. To hunker down, for a long, long winter, as we Minnesotans are forced to do.

Yet signs of spring began shortly after the election. Indivisible and other organizations broke through a horrendous Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the Women’s March inspired my wife (typically an apolitical being) and millions more to action and into the streets.

And now, more effective than dissent in action, or a good book, votes are being cast! The caucus introduced me, in my thirtieth year, to the Fighting 41st and has broken down some of the barriers that I felt to voicing my politics.

My introduction to the nuts and bolts of the Democratic Party has been enlightening and fun. I don’t see people fretting and fighting about Bernie vs. Hillary, or obsessing over the Russia probe, I see a grassroots drive to elect people with progressive ideas that help everyday Americans. The choice to me is simple: the Democratic Party hears the American people.

Issue by issue, it’s clear: 74 percent of Americans want to raise the minimum wage, 63 percent support tying it to inflation. Fully 62 percent of Americans say it’s the federal government’s job to provide healthcare for every citizen. And 76 percent of Americans want the government to step up action on climate change.

Because of the chaos into which our current political arena has deteriorated, many young people see the dysfunction riddling American politics, and it scares them from interacting with the system. The Democrats have a chance to introduce a couple generations of young people to success at the grassroots and in their own lives. Just as the New Deal solidified many Democratic voters for a lifetime, I hope Democrats can solidify today’s young voters for their lifetimes. Personally, I have come to believe that change is so much less intimidating when you show up to the Fighting 41st.