Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Open Letter to President Obama -- by Storyteller Knight

Dear President Barack Obama,

I’ve spent most of the day debating whether or not to write this, because chances are you won’t ever see it and its November and I’ve got a novel to write.  But, after much thought I’ve decided I just need to say this.  I don’t care if you read it or not.  It needs to be said and put out there for others to read. 

Do you remember what it was like to be young, President Obama?  Do you remember school and college and how insanely progressive that environment was?  Do you remember how you left that bubble to find a world where the laws didn’t reflect the environment you had grown up in?  You were a community organizer for crying out loud!  You have to remember some of those feelings!

And here’s the disconnect, President Obama.  Maybe the world we live on now is the one you were expecting and worked for when you were young.  Or maybe it’s fallen short and with your old age you’ve just bought into the idea that any change is good change.  Well, here’s some news for you, Mr. President, that progressive environment experienced in college?  It doesn’t exist anymore.  It has grown far beyond anything you could have possibly conceived in the mid 80s.  It is more progressive, more tolerate, more interested in nonviolent solutions, more concerned about the environment than I’m sure the twenty year old you would have believed possible.  And youth are exiting college to the same backwards country you found yourself standing in when you became a community organizer.  Did you think voting would make the world a better place 1985?  Or did you see the same old people promising the same old, intolerant world that you wanted to rally against?  What’s the point if all the candidates are essentially the same?

You want to know why young people so rarely turn out in large numbers to vote?  Because no one ever campaigns to us.  They campaign to white men, to women, to blacks, to Hispanics, to Asians, to the rich, to the poor, to the middle class, to married couples, to families with children... they even campaign to the elderly.  No one campaigns to the youth, especially those of us just going in, in or just coming out of college.  We are ignored.

Nobody campaigns on the platform of college being more affordable.  They don’t campaign to the platform of making sure jobs are available for us when we exit college with nothing but a heaping pile of loans and a piece of paper that’s supposed to promise us a future.  They don’t campaign promising just-out-of-college grads affordable housing so we don’t get into a crazy amount of debt our first year out of college trying to pay for food, housing, fuel and pay back our loans.  Nobody promises us the more tolerant, progressive, peaceful, sustainable world we experienced in college.  And if we ever try to interject our voices into the political debate, we’re told that we’re too young to possibly understand.  Is it any wonder that we’ve decided to remove ourselves from the political process?  There are many other ways to bring about the change we know needs to happen without taking part in a system that honestly doesn’t care what we think.

And then, in 2008, you entered the political stage and you spoke to us.  You promised us that the system would deliver the world we had been working so hard to attain.  You promised us that the law would soon reflect what we knew to be right.  And we turned out in droves to support you.  We made up 18% of the vote in 2008 and 66% of us voted for you. 

Independents didn’t win the election for you, President Obama.  Progressives (especially youth and minorities) won the election for you.  And in the past two years, you have proven more interested in appeasing the right than delivering the promises you made to us.  And this is not the moderate right.  This is a right who doesn’t believe you’re an American citizen.  Who calls you a racist, a communist, a Nazi, Hitler, the Joker.  Who demand concession after concession after concession after concession without ever giving anything in return.  A party who happily refer to themselves as the “The Party of No.”  They have proven that nothing you do will ever appease them, and yet you continue to try and reach out to them, and turn your back on the people who have supported you from the start.

We are angry and frustrated by your continued attempts to reach across the aisle to a party that will never accept.  You may not hear us.  We’re certainly not yelling as loudly as the Tea Party because... what’s the point?  We’re disappointed by your actions, but we’re not surprised.  It’s not like this hasn’t happened before.  And so, as you turned your back on us, we turned our back on you and didn’t vote in the midterm elections.  What would have been the point?  Either way the election goes, we’ve no reason to look to the system for the change we were promised.

Here’s the thing, Mr. President.  We don’t need you and we don’t need the system.  We are well versed in working without political leadership and outside the system.  We can bring about the change we want to see without you and without the law changing.  But we want your help, because change is easier to achieve when the law supports you.  And while easy is by no means necessary, it would certainly be appreciated.

The GOP has just sent the message that no matter what you do, it will never be enough for them, so just stop trying.  Plant your feet here and concede nothing else.  Do not renew the Bush Tax Cuts, stop defending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in courts, increase government programs and jobs with that, enact a comprehensive policy to fight climate change... the list is endless.  If congress fights you on it, dust of those executive orders and your veto pen.  When they tell outrageous lies about you and your policies, call them on it.  Call them out as liars loudly and often and maybe with a little bit of passion.  They’re raise hell about it, they’ll turn up their violent rhetoric, but you need to stand strong against it.  That’s the only way to show your progressive base that you are fighting for them.  And once we know that you’re committed to fighting for us, we will turn out for you in 2012 in numbers never see before.  You lost the vote of the old white man in 2008.  You won everyone else in record numbers.  There are more blacks, Hispanics, Asians, woman and youth than old white men in this country.  And if you give them a reason to believe in you and believe in the system, you will be easily elected again and the 115th Congress will be the most progressive ever seen. 

We can do this.  Easily.  But we need to know you’re with us, like you promised you’d be.  So it’s up to you to make the first move, Mr. President.  We’re waiting.

~Storyteller Knight

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