Years ago, The Agenda Project made waves in the media and made trouble for Representative Paul Ryan by intimating his plans for Medicare were akin to casting a wheelchair bound senior citizen to her death. Given what they unleashed on Senator Chuck Grassley this week, that ad now seems measured.
With its unabashed depiction of biological functions, some may find "Quit Stalling" inappropriate. But the admittedly lowbrow approach is more than fair. It's long overdue.
"Quit Stalling" blasts Grassley, and by extension his GOP colleagues, for failing to do his sworn duty. While the current outcry to #doyourjob centers on the Senate's failure to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, this ad enlarges the charge of dereliction of duty. The problem is not just refusing to consider President Obama's nominee. Senate Republicans like Grassley demonstrate utter disregard for every other American priority from job creation to the lead contamination crisis inflicted upon our people.
Pulling no punches, this ad makes the notion that Republicans are plunging America into a noxious abyss out of the realm of metaphor into daily life. Some may say the ad is too indelicate a depiction for a sitting Senator. But any decorum due fled once those elected to represent us decided to sell our interests out to the highest bidder. When Grassley's co-conspirator, Mitch McConnell, brazenly admits the NRA gets first right of refusal for Supreme Court picks, no respect is due for these Senators.
We have revered the money and power of an old elite to the now deadly detriment of the rest of us. Senators, CEOs and celebrities are viewed with undeserved awe because of their wealth and position. But it is almost always their positions that enables them their wealth and their wealth that lands them their positions. There's nothing extraordinary about the people in charge. This ad forces us to see, they're not even engaged or effective.
Senators, and the even richer people who purchase them, are just human beings. Seeing their corporeal reality depicted reminds us they too are flesh and blood. We need this reminder because our sanguine language portrays an inaccurate and seemingly unalterable status quo. We say things like "the system is rigged" "wages are falling" and "the Senate is at an impasse." In truth, there are no such thing as "systems." Wages do not suddenly acquire additional gravity. The Senate isn't visited by process-clogging bad elves. People make choices to act, or refuse to do so. And those people have addresses. Fortunately for Iowans, some of those people are up for re-election. If Senator Grassley won't do his job, there are plenty of better qualified people to take up the position.
With this ad, Agenda Project founder Erica Payne has once again proven she could teach a master class on speaking truth to power. But in this case, she does something even more important. Payne has found a way to encourage us to speak truth to each other. In exposing "power" for its prosaic ordinariness and mendacity, this ad cunningly encourages us to empower ourselves.
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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