Only the Good Retire Young

Posted on January 6, 2010


Today, America lost a true people’s champion. After 18 years in Congress – fighting Democrat and Republican opposition alike at nearly every turn; and emerging victorious time and time again – Democrat Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota announced today that he will retire this fall.

The fact that Dorgan retained his seat for nine consecutive elections – following a dozen years in the House of Representatives – in a vastly Republican-leaning state, is an inarguable testament to the man’s character, and an affirmation that he is a true servant of the American people – and a fierce challenger to the corporate machines that run Washington, DC, and are running it into the ground.

But in the end, the partisan machine beat the man.

Dorgan has opposed virtually every cut and removal that has been made to what was – originally – an actual health care reform package that directly benefited the people who needed it most; those without insurance, and those barely affording it now.  Dorgan fought with the veracity and tenacity of a bull to get his Congressional colleagues to leave the amendment *in* the bill that would allow Americans to buy prescription medications directly from reputable pharmacies in Canada and through Canadian online merchants.  He even went so far as to personally research Mexican counterparts to those reputable Canadian pharmacies to further expand the options and choices Americans – particularly seniors – would have in obtaining their much-needed medication.

Dorgan explained, and campaigned, and damn-near filibustered for more than a week straight to convince his fellow Democrats that it was a good, solid and sound solution to one of the largest difficulties facing Americans with and without health insurance. He showed literal evidence of exactly how American pharmaceutical companies were blatantly defrauding the American consumer. He gave point-by-point depiction of exactly where, how and why Canadian prescription drugs were cheaper than those bought in America – by a margin of 900 percent.

He waged a war like Don Quixote against a thousand windmills. But in the end, it wasn’t windmills that defeated the noble knight. It wasn’t a dragon. It wasn’t even the fair Dulcinea. It was Democrat leader Harry Reid who blocked Dorgan’s every effort. It was a domino line of bought-and-paid-for Democrat shills for the pharmaceutical lobby who leaned on Dorgan. They leaned hard and they backstabbed Dorgan repeatedly.  The cowards of the Congress – many of whom sought his help innumerable times over the past 18 years – stabbed Dorgan in the back, betraying his trust, and betraying the American people.

I watched Dorgan on C-SPAN on his final day of opposition to the Democrats’ health care bill. As yay vote after yay arose from the Senate floor, you could literally see Dorgan crumble, his shoulders slouch, and his brow crease with an anguish and defeat that only comes from the most sinister and personal of betrayals. Dorgan’s own party tore him down, for no reason other than to perpetuate the lies and fraud of a bill they know to be nothing more than blatant pandering to corporate America and the pharmaceutical lobbyists.

Dorgan’s battles weren’t limited to a health care bill that is doomed to fail, especially if it succeeds.  His other most prominent war banners include a staunch opposition to the corporate elitism and Socio-Fascist wave he foresaw growing in the halls of Congress.  In 2006, Dorgan wrote a book entitled, “Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics are Selling Out America.” Republicans called him a liar and a fringe liberal.  Democrats pretty much said nothing – a clear case of one side protesting too much and the other not at all. Guilty on all counts, on both sides.

Right-wing critics – possessing no knowledge of facts nor caring to find any – are chanting and clucking that Dorgan is quitting for fear of humiliation come November.  Had they bothered to check in with reality, they might have learned that the fiercely non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report rated Dorgan as having a literal lock on re-election, and USA TODAY’s Fredreka Schouten reported that Dorgan had a healthy campaign war chest of nearly $4 million as of Sept. 30. Clearly, the man didn’t fear losing an election.  I think he simply didn’t want to win again if it meant having to placate and glad-hand with a pack of lying corporate puppets who betrayed him, his ideals, his party, and the people who put them in office.  I think Dorgan feared becoming obsolete – a lone surviving Democrat who actually gives a damn about serving the people who gave him their trust.

I make no contest to my loathing of America’s politicians. They are, in my assessment, the most vile pack of self-serving thieves, liars, frauds, cheats and hypocrites the world has ever seen.

But every once in an increasingly infrequent while, a politician like Dorgan comes along; a man who speaks plain and barks loud and isn’t afraid to expose and oppose bad legislation when he sees it. Dorgan is a man of courage and honor and integrity, befouled and betrayed by 47 of his “colleagues” and hamstrung by 42 others across the aisle.

So, yes, I loathe politicians.  But in this case, I will stand up and side with Byron Dorgan and encourage him to not let 2010 be the end of his political career; because this one lone Senator is worth vastly more than the other 99.