To the hair-tearing frustration of Americans across the nation, the brinkmanship obstruction from conservative Democrats like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema has pushed negotiation on the President’s blockbuster social spending bill into yet another month as the right-wing millionaires fight tooth and nail to prevent any of the public’s money from actually being spent to help the American people.
The latest fight has erupted over Manchin’s insistence that the paid leave program be cut from the Build Back Better (BBB) bill. The bill’s creators had originally envisioned twelve weeks of paid leave for American workers, which became four weeks and then zero weeks as the West Virginia Senator vowed to hold the bill hostage until he got his way. This forced a stalemate with progressives in the House, who refused to vote for the bill that Manchin wanted, a bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) that somehow managed to get 10 Republican votes, because they knew that as soon as the BIF passed, Manchin would then gut the BBB even further.
Under heavy pressure from progressives, Speaker Pelosi announced on Wednesday that she would be adding back in four weeks of paid leave, which the heartless Manchin immediately opposed. But the fight for paid leave in America received some surprise support when the news broke that none other than Megan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, had been making calls on behalf of American workers.
Correctly predicting that Manchin was too stubborn and too lost in the throes of sociopathic greed to be swayed, the Duchess targeted so-called “moderate” Republicans like Manchin’s West Virginia colleague Shelley Capito and Maine’s Susan Collins, calling them up and personally asking them to support paid family leave.
“Much to my surprise, she called me on my private line and she introduced herself as the Duchess of Sussex, which is kind of ironic…I was happy to talk with her, but I’m more interested in what the people of Maine are telling me about it,” said Collins about the call.
Markle has been quietly getting involved in American politics for some time now, causing many to ask if she has aspirations of an American political career. Recently, she published an open letter asking Congress to pass paid leave for American families. “I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent. And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s why I’m writing to you at this deeply important time—as a mom—to advocate for paid leave,” wrote Markle in the letter.
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not offer paid family leave to its citizens — among a number of other basic social benefits that even right-wing parties in Europe consider an essential right. It is deeply disturbing to realize how deeply our nation has been brainwashed into thinking it is acceptable for every single basic human need to be commodified and sold off for profit no matter how much suffering it might cause to those who can’t afford it, in a nation whose economy has been entirely constructed to exploit and starve the worker while every last cent is funneled into the pockets of the 1%.
While the Duchess is likely to be unsuccessful, we certainly appreciate the effort. It’s more than most American politicians are willing to do.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.