Wondering if Upton will really wake up

Published 1:07 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

Dear editor,

Like Rip Van Winkle, Fred Upton has finally awakened after more than 20 idle years. It is ironic that his soporific performance in Congress apparently qualified him for a top chairmanship in the new republican dominated House. He recently held town hall meetings all over the 6th District to explain why he has reversed himself on practically every issue. Don’t worry, Fred, we all know jobs are scarce these days.

It was billed as a “listening” tour, but for the most part, the audience did the listening while Upton tried to sell House Speaker John Boehner’s agenda, which can be summed up in the words of the late Leona Helmsley, “only little people pay taxes.” But unlike “the queen of mean,” Fred and his congressional handlers are making an impressive effort to rewrite the Robin Hood legend, making the Sheriff of Nottingham out to be the good guy.

And why shouldn’t working families subsidize the rich? Republicans have a proven record of encouraging people to continue to vote against their own interests. They win elections by appealing to the fears and prejudices of their constituents. But in the mythical land of Upton it is even easier. As several of my republican friends have told me in so many words, he has simply become a habit. Opposing his positions openly is not an option. After all, what would their friends at Rotary think?

At a recent musical event, a lifelong republican friend expressed the hope that our government would continue to support the Arts. I asked her why she didn’t pressure Upton and his friends to stop trying to kill funding for the Arts. She said, “Oh, they wouldn’t listen to me. I’m too liberal for them.”

Many of us in southwest Michigan continue to live in a world of fantasy. Even though the emperor has no clothes, actually, Fred did look rather smart at the meeting I attended in Stevensville, in his Brooks Brothers shirt, grey cashmere sweater and impeccably tailored black slacks, we pretend not to notice. The lucky ones among us may never have to wake up to the fact that the yellow brick road no longer leads to the Emerald City and brains and hearts are in short supply these days.

The biggest fairy tale of all is that Upton even pretends to be listening to anyone other than Boehner. The fix is in and Fred and his acolytes, John Proos and Al Pscholka are wasting no time socking it to the little people who, incidentally, are not without blame for their plight. Many of them don’t even bother to vote and then wonder why they’re not living happily ever after.

Scott Elliott

Benton Harbor