Fool Me Once
Thomas Frank is right: the Trump reelection nightmare could happen [“Four More Years,” Essay, April]. But I believe it is crucial that we not ignore fundamental truths. Trump’s election exposed something defective in our political system—his win was a betrayal of majority rule by the Electoral College. Trump is a minority president.
We should stop perpetuating the myth that Hillary Clinton had the “wrong message” for America. The majority of American voters endorsed her vision of what the country needed, rejecting Trump and his values. If we had a truly democratic election system in which every vote counted equally, we would have celebrated Clinton’s great progressive victory.
Clinton and the Democrats were too magnanimous after Trump’s win. By attempting to unify the country, they failed the majority of American voters. They should have asserted themselves as the voice of the people instead of embarking on a self-destructive search for someone to blame for their electoral defeat.
So how do we avoid a second term of the Trump Administration? The Democratic Party’s priorities—economic opportunity, health care, and justice for all—are what most Americans want. The challenge is to convince more voters that the party is truly dedicated to those ideals.
It is hard to keep Trump’s darkness from overwhelming us. The electoral system is our reality. But this, too, is a reality: the Democrats are the voice of the present and the voice of the future.
We must hope that Thomas Frank does not become the left’s Cassandra. His fear of a second term for President Trump is no fever dream, and he should not be ignored. Unfortunately, recent successes in off-year and special elections seem to have inoculated many Democrats against the hard introspection Frank now counsels. The Democratic leadership, moreover, has been no profile in courage: witness the government shutdown, in which they capitulated immediately in exchange for a (still unfulfilled) promise on DACA from the Machiavellian Senate majority leader. Must the party endure a second electoral loss before it heeds Frank’s warning and returns to its progressive, populist heritage?
If the Democrats want to win the next presidential election, they will need to come down from their mountain of self-righteousness, roll up their sleeves, and rub elbows with everyday working stiffs. Most politicians have no idea how frustrated average people are with increasing debt loads, deteriorating infrastructure, corporate tax loopholes, wage stagnation, and the impending environmental crisis. Yet the Democratic National Committee continues to suppress the true progressives within its ranks. I see very little hope for the Democrats.
Brian Goldstone’s article makes it clear that there are no easy solutions to the dual problems of adequate pain treatment and opioid abuse [“The Pain Refugees,” Report, April]. Despite this imposing challenge, we would like to offer some optimism. Research in the biomedical and psychosocial sciences is improving our understanding of the factors responsible for the development and persistence of chronic pain, as well as of the debilitating effects of opioids. At the Center to Advance Chronic Pain Research, we are helping to demonstrate that individual differences in genetics, physiology, and psychology demand tailored approaches, and this perspective is prompting novel ideas for treatment.
Joel D. Greenspan and Susan Dorsey
Center to Advance Chronic Pain Research, University of Maryland
I am a specialist in internal medicine, addiction medicine, and pain management, and I have been discouraged recently by the incredible amount of misinformation that appears every day in the media about chronic pain and opioid treatment. It was therefore refreshing and unexpected to read an empathetic and balanced article that was clearly well researched. Goldstone is one of the few journalists who actually understands the significant difference between addiction and physical dependence and appreciates that only a small minority of patients on opioids become addicted. He recognizes that the goal of treatment is to improve people’s ability to function as well as decrease their pain, and that compliant patients whose quality of life has been shown to improve through the use of opioids should be able to continue receiving the medication. Goldstone rightly observes that the diminishing availability of prescription opioids is driving people to obtain unregulated drugs on the street, which has increased the number of drug-overdose deaths. This article is full of important information.
Fit for Life
As a sixty-seven-year-old Pilates instructor and personal trainer, I’m aware that there is a ton of hype in the fitness and diet industry [“Running to the Grave,” Readings, March]. And the skin-care industry. And the gut-flora industry. Yes, life is futile and we all end up dead, but daily exercise, mild or intense, has been proved to deter the development of joint pain in seniors, to help with the problems associated with obesity, and to create a heightened sense of well-being and energy. Barbara Ehrenreich is way smarter than I am, but my quality of life as an exercise enthusiast cannot be discounted. We were born to move, so I will not stop moving until my eventual demise.
Oak Bluffs, Mass.