An Open Letter To Jane Lynch, RE: The Class War
Dear Jane Lynch:
I am a huge fan! I have watched and rewatched all of Glee a number of times that would likely embarrass anyone who had any semblance of shame. I have loved you in practically everything you have ever been in, from Christopher Guest movies, to Party Down, to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, to your many guest appearances on Criminal Minds, which I think really showed your range as a dramatic actor. You are one of the few actors where, if you are in a thing, I will absolutely watch that thing. And I haven't been let down yet!
Jane, Ms. Lynch, whatever I can call you here, I used to be a diner waitress.
I assure you that, in my time working in this diner, I got a lot of things. I got hair that smelled like grease, I got three dollar tips from people who sat in a booth all day drinking bottomless cups of coffee, and I got into trouble for spraying sparkly fabric spray on my work t-shirt to jazz it up a little.
One thing I did not get, however, were any politicians rolling in to say "Hey Robyn! Can I get two eggs over easy, hash browns, wheat toast, sausage gravy and your vote! If so, I'll make you Ambassador to France!" or "Hey Robyn! If you can bring me a club sandwich, I will vote to end the Iraq War or close the School of Americas or clean up Superfund sites or establish a maximum wage or eliminate sweatshops and child slavery or bring back full time nurses at the schools in your city or get the city to give up some money to fund warming shelters for the homeless people living in this blistery tundra instead of blowing a ton on a stupid ferry to Toronto that's going to go out of business in a few years, or whatever else it is that you are on about in this, the year 2002!"
I did not, for the record, get invited to any wine caves either. In fact, I did not know what a wine cave even was until this week and I'm still not sure I totally understand it. Apparently it's not even a real cave! Go know!
As a waitress in a diner, all I really had was the ability to vote and protest and write and go to town halls and what have you. Even today, I can't really do much more than that. Billionaires in wine caves can do all of that too, but they don't really have to on account of the fact that they can just donate a shit ton of money to a candidate's PAC and then ask for something in return.
For a very long time, we've had a situation in this country that allows rich people to have way, way, way more of a say than "diner waitresses" or the plumber in your bathroom. Not just in terms of who gets elected president or governor or senator or congressperson, but in terms of what those people do once they are elected. That is what Elizabeth Warren was trying to explain.
And when that happens, when people like me see someone running for office, getting lots of money from corporations and rich people and then subsequently voting for things that help them and hurt us, it's hard to not feel some kind of way about that. They might, like me, feel really angry about it, and they might, like most people, just become really jaded and solipsistic about the whole process.
This isn't, frankly, about inciting a class war, it's about preventing one.
Employees lose respect for a company (or country) that fails to provide decent facilities for their comfort!
I don't know how familiar you are with the Marxist rules of history, but the gist of them is that people can only handle so much hopelessness and misery before a revolution starts looking real good. This is why many nations, including our own, have implemented social programs in response to a rise in revolutionary activity. Otto von Bismarck implemented national healthcare in Germany in hopes of quelling a rise in socialism, and our own New Deal served a similar purpose.
And let me tell you, Elizabeth Warren's rhetoric about billionaires is a lot less likely to incite a class war than dismissive comments about "diner waitresses" or "the plumber in my bathroom."
Right now, people in this country are absolutely sick and tired of rich people being able to buy political influence. We don't trust the system and we have no reason to. Until we do, holding private fundraisers for billionaires in wine caves is going to be a bad look. No one needs Elizabeth Warren to tell them that.
Additionally, people don't need her in order to notice that we have people who have more money than they or their children could possible spend in their lifetimes and also children with "student lunch debt," the most appalling phrase I've ever heard in my life. People aren't just going to not notice that they can't afford their insulin. People aren't going to not notice that bankers who should have gone to jail got bailed out instead, while they're drowning in student debt or medical debt. And they're not going to not notice the fact that people with a lot of money also tend to get a lot of their needs tended to by the politicians that take that money.
If you think that everyone was okay with all of these things or didn't notice them before Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders pointed them out, I've got a naked emperor in Florida to sell you.
Can you honestly tell me, or anyone who is not rich, that if we had publicly funded elections and no donations whatsoever, that all of our politicians would do everything the exact same way as they are doing now? I certainly don't trust that and I don't know anyone else who does. Even if it's true, even if huge donations to PACs have no impact on what a candidate does once they are in office, how could we ever be sure? The specter of impropriety is still there. We don't have to have publicly funded elections, but it's nice to see politicians at least putting an effort towards proving to us that there is nothing shady going on with them. That means a lot!
When I, as a writer or as a diner waitress or as a plumber in your home, am treated the way a big money donor would be treated in a wine cave, when I am offered an ambassadorship or a vote for my favorite issue, then we can talk about whether or not I have more influence than a billionaire. However, I'm gonna suggest that we cross that bridge when we come to it.
PS: I am extremely here for a revival of Party Down, just gonna put that out there.
And for all of you out there who are NOT Jane Lynch, this is now your open thread.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse