Last year, our Newfie-Greater Pyrenees managed to break into our house while we were away. (He’s an outdoor dog). Once inside, he ate food from the counter, broke multiple dishes, then urinated in the living room and, for good-measure, in the upstairs hallway. The message seemed clear: Yeah, I know I’m not allowed in. You know where you can stick that rule.

Gerrymandered districts, voter suppression, and Russian interference, it turns out, are much like an unlocked door on our Democracy. For months now, the self-proclaimed alpha dogs have been peeing on every carpet and breaking each dish they can find. Their most recent attempt at a long-awaited metaphorical humping of President Obama’s left leg came just on Thursday with the Repeal and Replace horror show. Once again, a primitive dominance display won out over, say, the thoughtful crafting of public policy. Go Republicans.

Congress is in recess. They will return to their districts with talking points in hand, ready to duck, evade, and dodge every difficult question they face. Allow me, then, to indulge in a little fantasy. For their town halls, meetings, or listening sessions, let’s do this: Why not outfit them with shock collars and give the remote (and plenty of leeway) to an elderly Grandmother from, say, Selma. Could be fun! Here is how I envision this meeting might go:

Constituent, sitting at a table, shuffling stacks of folders: “Good morning Congressman. It took two hours of chasing you through the yard before we could catch you, but we fully expect you to sit still and answer some questions truthfully for the next hour Do you understand?”

The Congressman is seated on a stool, opposite the Constituent. His discomfort at wearing the dog collar, disappears as he slides into his usual introduction. “Good morning to you both! I very much look forward to providing a full an accurate account of my time in the home while you have been gone.”

“Great!” says the Constituent, “let’s start with Congressional oversight. There are strong indications that our President and much of his staff have been untruthful about their connections with a hostile foreign power, namely, Russia. Furthermore, there are reasons to believe that Russia, through a combination of aggressive computer hacking, propaganda and, quite possibly old-fashioned spy-craft, played a role in the outcome of the election last Fall. These issues have grave implications for both our Democracy and our national security. As our elected Representative how, exactly, are you going to formally investigate these allegations?”

The Congressman nods, solemnly. “Okay, so Hillary—OUCH!”

Maya is sitting in a chair across the room. She has dark skin and silver hair, pulled into a neat bun. She waves the remote in the air and shakes her head at the Congressman. “No more Hilary’s out of you, sweetie.”

Constituent: “Indeed. Thank you Maya.”

“You’re welcome, sugar.”

“Congressmen,” continues the Constituent, “during the last election, some 75,000 people were not allowed to vote in your district due to the implementation of new restrictive voting measures, passed by Republicans in your state legislature. Would you like to comment on that?”

“The integrity of our Democratic process must be safeguarded. Voter fraud—YEOW!”

Maya is shaking her head. “My 98 year-old mother waited five hours to vote, then was turned away ‘cause she’s never had a driver’s license.”

Congressman: “But she had ample time to—OW!”

Maya, holding an index finger in the air: “Y’all restricted days and times for registration. Y’all closed half of of the offices that issue the IDs. If you care about the integrity of the process, make it easier to vote, not harder.”

“Let’s talk about Thursday,” says the constituent. “You are on record as accusing President Obama of ‘ramming’ through the ACA, without debate (the Congressman nods), of acting like a ‘dictator’ (nods again), and of attacking American freedoms by passing Obamacare (the Congressman is nodding so hard, his face is nearly a blur). In fact,” continues the Constituent, “Obamacare was debated and discussed for a full-year beforehand. Thursday, you voted to repeal and replace it with a bill that would remove healthcare from 24 million Americans, cut Medicaid payments by over $800 billion, and remove protections from people with pre-existing conditions, which is one third of the country. You did all this without debating the bill in public or even reading it afterwards, is that correct?”

The Congressman seizes his neck. “OW! OW!! BUT I HAVEN’T SAID ANYTHING YET!!”

Maya, smiling sweetly: “Nothing you could say, honey. Just savin’ time.”

Constituent, still reading papers: “Sticking with healthcare, please answer the following questions: First, is basic healthcare a right of every American?”

The Congressman jabs a finger at him. “Absolutely, I strongly believe that access to—OW, SHIT!”

Maya: “Don’t you ‘access’ me, sweetie. I got ‘access’ to Morgan Freeman. You don’t see me sitting on his lap, do you?”

“Congressman,” says the Constituent, “we’re not talking about ‘access.’ No one cares about ‘access.’ People care about treatment. Let’s get into specifics: Should every American be offered a reasonably-affordable premium?”

The Congressman claps his hands together “Yes! Under the tyranny of Obamacare, premiums went up for many Americans!”

The Constituent turns to Maya. “He’s right. Premiums DID go up for a number of people around the country. Most Democrats, including Hilary Clinton, did not address that seriously, or even admit that it was as big problem.”

At this, the Congressman, becomes more animated. “Yeah! That’s what we mean! Obamacare was a disaster! It was imploding! Our bill is going to lower premiums for everyone!”

The Constituent considers the Congressman carefully for a moment, then says “Do you guarantee that premiums will decrease and be affordable for every single American?”

The Congressman pauses in thought, then swallows, audibly. “Guarantee?”


The Congressman closes eyes and waits. He shudders in his chair, then looks helplessly at Maya.

“You knew that was coming, sweetie.”

“Before Obamacare,” explains the Constituent, “it was not uncommon for people to have to choose between car payments, mortgage payments, daycare and a health bill. Stories of average Americans going bankrupt due to an illness or injury were legion. In countries with single-payer systems, such as Canada, Britain, and France, this is unheard of. What, as our elected Representative, are you going to do to guarantee that no American ever has to make this choice again? That no American ever again goes broke due to an illness or injury?”

A line of sweat has formed on the Congressman’s brow. “Guarantee?”

Constituent and Maya, together: “Guarantee.”

The Congressman’s shoulders slump. “Go ahead—MMMFFFGT!”

The Constituent checks his watch. “I believe our time is up. I’m glad we got to have this little talk. Maya, thanks for your help (Maya nods). Congressman, I think we can all agree, you have been fairly naughty these past few months. Do you have any final statements to make, before heading to the doghouse?”

Against all odds, the Congressman regains his initial composure. He sits up straight, eyes sparkling and says “As a member of the 115th Congress, I am proud to partner with the President to Make America Great Again! Our control of all three branches of government provides us with a very unique opportunity to—AAAARGH!!!” He falls to the ground, clutching his neck. “OW, OW! STOP! PLEASE, AAARGHHHH!!!” He writhes with agony for more than a minute, before he finally lies still, breathing hard and whimpering.

Constituent, turning to Maya: “You know, the ‘Make America Great’ is kind of stupid, I’ll give you that. But I suppose it is subjective.”

Maya shakes her finger in the air. “That wasn’t it. He used a modifier before an absolute.” She glares at the Congressman. “You say ‘very unique’ one more time, Ima light you up like the Fourth of July!”

The Constituent gathers the papers and shoves them into a folder. “I expect the locks on the house to be fixed by the end of 2018!” He stands and points to an old doghouse across the yard. “Until then, you can sleep in there.”

Maya stands. “You spoke some truth today. But not all of it.”

“Not all of it?” says the Constituent.

“We’re missing a lot. Still dancing around too much stuff. Next time we talk about history.”


“Yep. ‘bout time for this country to take a look in the mirror and have a good long cry. We’ve been needing that. Truth is always first, sugar. Then reconciliation. I’m ready when you are.” Maya flashes a beautiful white smile “Now, I hear Morgan Freeman is in the area. No guarantees, of course,” she waves goodbye, “but what’s a girl got to lose?”

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