An Open Letter to Paul Ryan From a Fellow Irish American on the Occasion of His Moral Triumph

Paul,
Can I call you Paul? It might be informal, but you just look so much like my Irish Catholic relatives, with your black hair and blue eyes. Like a Kennedy, except you’re unlike the liberal, social-safety-net-supporting Kennedys in so many ways.

For instance, in your zeal to overturn the life-saving ACA. You boasted (on St. Patrick’s Day, no less) of college keggers where you dreamed of destroying Medicaid, the public health care program for the poor. Most college boys, no doubt including the Kennedys, partied while dreaming of hot women and being superheroes. But you, Paul, you were jerking off to the glories of sending American health care back to the Dickensian slums of 19th century Britain. One hates to speculate that you spent many a fevered night reading Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen to their Parents, or the Country, and for Making them Beneficial to the Publick, thinking it was a serious proposal to feed the children of the poor to the rich. Something tells me you don’t get satire, like you don’t get so many other skills most of our people have mastered, like liberal democracy.

Speaking of Britain, I noticed you wore a green tie on St. Patrick’s Day, but you seemed to have gotten everything else all wrong. (The Irish didn’t invent golfing and were not impressed by royalty. Oppressed by them, but not impressed.) You seem to have forgotten your O’Roots, Mr. Ryan, and adhere to the free market British economic system that nearly wiped out our people in the mid-1800s.

You see, it wasn’t really a potato blight that plunged Ireland into the Great Famine. It was a cruel and greedy land system imposed by the British government that made it impossible for an Irish farmer to rise above their impoverished station. Even as millions starved to death and millions fled to other lands, Ireland exported more food crops during those years than most. They had to pay the rents on their farms (which they weren’t allowed by law to own).

But, you say, the U.S. government doesn’t impose any such restrictions. Anyone is allowed to be free and follow their destiny and should do so ‘free of government assistance.’ Government programs rob people of their individuality, their ability to realize their full potential.

And yet, you took advantage of a government program–survivor’s benefits–to go to college, a luxury not afforded everyone. This was in addition to your well-off family’s support throughout your life as well as marrying a very wealthy wife. You were also born at the top of the food chain in the American social strata: a straight, white, upper class, Christian male. You can have no idea what life is like for millions of people who try to survive in a system without any government protections for their health. I could tell you, I could go on and on, but let’s not make this about me. (Here’s a link to Michael Patrick MacDonald, a fellow Irish American who grew up poor in Boston’s Southie neighborhood in the 60s. All Souls: A Family Story From Southie. I’ll let him tell the story of one of his siblings dying because the hospital wouldn’t take in indigents.)

It wouldn’t surprise me if there were some Congressional shenanigans going on here where you caved to the far-right Freedom Caucus’s heartless demands in order to get the bill passed (and placate your conservative billionaire funders). You figure the Senate will cut out the worst of it and send it back to you. But regardless of the politicking involved, that smile on your face as you slash the freedom of health care out from under millions is genuine. You honestly believe that what you’re doing is righteous and moral and true. You, like so many conservatives, believe that there are people who are worthy of life and liberty and health care, and there are those who deserve to starve to death, their mouths blackened from rotten food, the gnawed bones of their neighbors and families littering the countryside. (I am not engaging in Irish blarney here. Cannibalism likely practiced in Irish Famine.)

You have become a 19th century British politician, completely forgetting that you came from people who were lucky to have escaped the violent poverty their brutal laissez-faire “self sufficiency” inflicted.

For a while, you drank the Ayn Rand kool-aid like so many fiscal conservatives, crowing about how her monstrously selfish ideas provided the best argument for moral conservatism. (That is, until someone at the Jesuit Georgetown college whispered in your ear that she was an atheist and you recanted.) But why do you struggle so hard to find a moral justification for stripping poor people of health care? Could it be that there’s some sliver of Irish peasant in you after all, one that remembers the horrors of a political belief system that supports the ruling class above the very lives of everyone else?

Or maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, because you should be one of us, one of the liberals, one of those that believes in helping our fellow humans when they’re down. What happened to your branch of the Ryans along the way?

I leave you with a verse from my favorite song when I was a child in Catholic church. I’m no longer Catholic, but I think I got the gist down better than you. If you sing those words in church too, I hope they sink into your cold, dark, blighted heart someday.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.
When I was hungry, you gave me to eat; When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.
Now enter into the home of My Father.
Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

This entry was posted in conservative values, free market, laissez faire, liberal values, politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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