What is Washboard Express?

Washboard Express is a way for me to express my own opinions, to be a provocative gadfly, by writing a "letter a day" to the President. I may miss a day here and there, because sometimes my family with be my first priority, but my goal is to write a total of 365 letters, representing one full year. To say I have opinions about most things would be to understate the obvious. Those of you that know me, know this is true, those who don't know me, will learn that it's true. The Washboard is a reference to going back to basics and "keeping it clean," so if you would like me to post your comments or opinions on this blog, I only ask that you be respectful. So go ahead, express yourself, and I look forward to an exchange of ideas and opinions.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Letter #146... Dear Mr. President... We need a "Shadow Law"

Dear Mr. President,

They say timing is everything and that some things are meant to be… and as Oprah would say… sometimes we have an “ah-ha moment.” I had one this morning when I was laying in bed listening via a baby monitor for the sounds of my son breathing.

In letter #138 I told you a little bit about Jeff and his situation, so laying there I couldn’t help but think about all the people that don’t have insurance, or in the case of Jeff, disability insurance, or have a family member that is able to take them and provide the kind of end of life care that each human being deserves. This is what sets us apart from the animal kingdom… our ability to ease one another’s suffering and allowing that person to die with dignity.

Then I thought about all the laws that are being passed that de-humanize and polarize us on various issues, such as the war, abortion, health care, homelessness, funding for schools, taxes, etc… etc…

I believe I have a solution that will end all this nonsense… I call it the ‘Shadow Law’. The Shadow Law would be a law that would require any and all elected officials that vote for laws that deny, restrict, cut, or de-fund programs for citizens to ‘Shadow’ someone affected by the passage of their law for a minimum of one week. People could sign up to be ‘shadowed’ by the representative in their home district… to essentially, ‘walk a mile in their shoes’.

The consequences of voting for the war... any war.
Just imagine what it would be like for Senators and Congressmen and Women to be required to attend the funeral of a young man or woman killed in a war that they voted for. Or being required to sit by the bedside of a dying person, whose disability was denied because his or her Rep. voted to end that ‘entitlement’. How about having to spend a week in a homeless shelter, and eating food provided by volunteers because you, as the Rep. in their district, voted to defund homeless programs. Or, attend a school with leaky roofs, with computers under plastic to protect them from the rain, sitting on the floor because there aren’t enough desks, and going hungry all day because the lunch programs were cut.

I sincerely think there would be a drastic turnaround in priorities if a ‘Shadow Law’ were enacted. Our elected officials would be less inclined to send other peoples children off to war if they had to spend a week in a war zone… and I don’t mean just visiting, but going out and ‘shadowing’ a real live soldier on patrol or fighting in some god forsaken place we wouldn’t send our worst enemy.

Vietnam Vets, Michael Carey & Greg Welch
When I opened my newspaper (Sacramento Bee, March 22, 2012) this morning there was a headline: TWIST OF FATE REUNITES TWO SURVIVORS OF WAR  (Vietnam). Do we even know, after 40+ years, why we fought that war? We didn’t stop communism, we didn’t secure anything vital to our country, so why were we there? Why were the lives of 57,000 men and women so meaningless to so many? Corporations and people profited from the war, but the ones who actually fought it got killed, maimed, became sick, and profoundly changed by being there even if they weren’t physically injured. The wife of one of these men said, “If I could redo it now, I would have hooked him up with a therapist a long time ago to see what was bottled up in him from Vietnam. I can’t even comprehend the stuff that they endured. Only another person who went through it would know.”  

And that’s the point Mr. President; we can’t even imagine what it’s like until we have experienced it for ourselves. They left Vietnam, but Vietnam never left them. Vietnam isn’t past tense… it’s still here, and these brave men are still living it.

As an example of how the ‘Shadow Law’ would work, one of these men or a family member could call the Rep. in their district, in this case it would be Rep. Dan Lungren of the 3rd Congressional District, and ask that he schedule a week of his time to spend with these two soldiers to get just a hint of what their lives are like. Now I know that Lungren didn’t vote for that particular war, but he did vote for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So it would seem, spending a week with these Vets, would be like a walk in the park compared to a week spent dodging bullets or bombs in Afghanistan.

And most recently we have many Reps., including Governors that are all Republicans, voting on issues that involve a woman’s reproductive rights and the right to receive a legal abortion without being subjected to unnecessary medical procedures not ordered by a doctor, but required by some law written by a person who doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what it’s like to be a woman faced with such a difficult choice. Let them go with her to the required doctors appointments, and wait with her for 72 hours before she is forced have an ultrasound and to look at it before she can receive a legal medical procedure from a licensed doctor.

Yes Mr. President, I think what we need now is a ‘Shadow Law’… a law that protects everyone from arbitrary laws passed by lawmakers that don’t have one iota, not a single clue, as to what ordinary Americans are faced with every single day.

Just maybe if they walked a day in our shoes, or spent a week in our ‘shadow’ they would think twice about how their votes affect us and choose to vote differently.

Let’s talk Mr. President, and maybe we can craft a law, or I could start a “We the People…” petition that would address these issues and force our elected officials to live in our world… if only for a week.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny


  1. Wonderful, Marcia. Sadly though, these elected officials vote the way they do not because they don't know what our lives are like -- they get letters every day from real people expressing their lives in heartbreaking terms. No, they vote as they do seemingly without any conscience, because that's what they're paid to do ...not by us, their taxpaying constituents, but the special interest groups that put them there and keep them there.

  2. You're right Rosemary, our politicians don't work for the people any more and haven't for a long time... they work for special interest money and deep pockets like the Koch Bros. Maybe the Shadow Law can require that each member of the House and the Senate spend the first week of every year in office serving mandatory "Shadow Time" in their home district. Constituents could request Shadow Time on any number of issues they have been directly affected by as a result of a final vote in the Senate. We could see some changes in attitude about just how important a vote can be for ordinary Americans.

  3. As the republicans bow more and more to the tea party, more things have become much worse for the common folks.
    I read that tea party activists are shrinking in numbers. Makes me think the "tea party" is a ruse to vote the way they want to without as much responsibilities.

    If president Obama is NOT re-elected I fear for us

  4. President Obama MUST be re-elected or I fear for the whole world... Republicans have shown us a clear pathway to our economic collapse (Ryan Plan) and a buildup of an already bloated military complex to expand their wars.