Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Look Forward to Disappointing You

Some of our readers have enjoyed letters we write to corporate executives and elected officials. Today, we would like to share a letter written by someone else.

Meet State Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston, Texas. He's been serving in the Texas legislature since 1990. Not that everyone is satisfied with his performance in office. In particular, he has been a disappointment to a group called Empower Texans.

Now meet Empower Texans. Basically, a political organization promoting the interests of corporate monopoly capitalism. They are about empowering Texans so long as we're talking about Texan CEOs and investors. Among their positions is the claim that Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme," and that the public sector needs to be reduced to the absolute bare minimum while all or most economic sectors and services should be privatized.

Like many advocacy groups, Empower Texans has a "report card" assigning grades to legislators based on their votes. State Senator Rodney Ellis did not fare well. He got an "F" from the corporate sector.

What follows is a letter written by Senator Ellis to the head of Empower Texans. It is witty, unapologetic, and honest. A fine example of an art form I have long loved: the personal letter. I have included some hyperlinks in the letter with references to the issues cited. Enjoy.


August 24, 2011

Michael Quinn Sullivan
Empower Texans
PO Box 200248
Austin, TX 78720

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

Thank you for your letter regarding Empower Texans 2011 legislative scorecard. Upon reading it, my first thought was of George Bernard Shaw, who responded to one of his critics thusly: "I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. Your critique is in front of me. Shortly it will be behind me."

Then I realized this thought was perhaps too harsh and too confrontational for, in fact, I am proud to have earned an "F" from Empower Texans for my work in the 82nd legislature. I know I am doing things right in Austin, and would seriously question both my judgment and values were I to receive any higher grade.

I am proud to have opposed Voter ID, which does nothing to protect the sanctity of the ballot and is designed only to limit the participation of the disenfranchised; I am proud to have fought against those who held the Rainy Day Fund hostage and to use an additional $3 billion to alleviate devastating cuts to vital programs; I am proud to have voted for other bills that would have reduced the impact of those cuts, and to get rid of tax loopholes that provide billions in tax breaks to huge oil companies even as we cut funding for our children's schools and health care; I am proud to have voted against hypocritical "look at me" votes calling on Congress to balance the federal budget while we failed to actually balance our own, and against the interests of the predatory payday loan industry. I will wear my "F" grade from Empower Texans as a badge of honor and look forward to further disappointing you in the future.

To paraphrase the greatest President of the 20th Century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: I welcome your hatred. After all, I'd much rather be a champion of the powerless than a lickspittle of the powerful.


Rodney Ellis


Hal Johnson said...

Wow. Nevermind where he stands in the political spectrum. I like his style.

Jomon said...


Kelly said...

Haven't clicked on your links to see if I agree with his politics, but I certainly like his letter!

quid said...

I'm a big fan of your "letters" and really enjoyed this spunky offering from Rodney Ellis.