I once saw former State Representative Todd Courser expound on how the welfare state was bad and people needed to take personal responsibility for their lives. Cindy Gamrat, his fellow representative, political soulmate and secret mistress, was nodding vigorously.
Complaining about mythical welfare queens and other so-called predatory poor people is pretty much standard fare for the right wing, and has been, to a greater or lesser degree, since the New Deal.
If your American history is a little rusty, that was the time in the 1930s in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a millionaire patrician from the upper class, decided it would be better to use government funds to pay desperate people to work, rather than having them starve to death or start a communist or, more likely, a fascist revolution.
FDR saved capitalism, though many of the capitalists never forgave him. And while this may say something bad about me, I have to admit I was greatly amused when I learned that Cindy Gamrat, who was expelled from the House nearly two years ago, is suing close to everyone on earth for ruining her life.
Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Gamrat and Courser, who were both married to other people, had a torrid affair, misused staff members in an effort to cover it up, and ended up being expelled by the legislature. Gamrat was expelled, that is; Courser, who is a bit wilier, quit moments before they were going to throw him out.
Their much-deserved expulsion, by the way, was orchestrated by their fellow House Republicans; Democrats mostly just watched the show, and to remind the world they still existed, held their final ouster up for a few hours.
Well, a rational conservative might say Gamrat and Courser brought this on themselves, much as they would correctly say that I alone am solely responsible for the extra pounds around my middle, since I can’t seem to leave oatmeal cookies alone.
But the Gongwer News Service alerted me that Gamrat has now filed an amended federal lawsuit alleging that her life “has been ruined financially, professionally and personally because of the actions the House took to expel her and the ways those in her personal life, like her staffers and ex-husband, helped that process.”
Because of that, she wants back pay with interest for the salary she would have received had she not been expelled, plus “compensatory damages for her mental health, emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation and damage to her professional reputation.”
Plus attorney fees. And she seems to be suing her ex for objecting to her having an affair with a co-worker and getting a friend to warn them to stop, plus a bunch of other ridiculous stuff.
Well, if she succeeds, I intend to sue because my parents died years ago and not only failed to leave me money, they left me an orphan.
The tragedy is that Gamrat might be able to regain respect if she followed something an old black woman told me long ago: “If you mess up, fess up, and move on.”
Conservatives are right about one thing: If we all took responsibility for our actions, this would be a better world. The hard part is doing that when it applies to you.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s Senior Political Analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.