Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dear President Obama

Dear Mr. President,
                               I think you're trying to do what is best, what is right, what will make the United States a better country both for its citizens and as part of the global community. Here's the thing: your job can't be about putting out one fire at a time, be it the economy or wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm not naive enough to think that's how you're thinking, but it needed to be said. I sincerely believe that you are looking at the big picture. You know that that picture is both immediate and long term. I'm offering my thoughts, because I know how loud the opposition gets and that sometimes the opposition is in your own party. (Let me add, I've never been polled in my life, most of the people I know haven't, either. So, I think the data is skewed. However, in the course of my job, I've talked to hundreds of Democrats, who btw, really HATE congress and their politicization of issues that are crushing most of us under the heel of corporate america.)

Here's what matters:
1. Health care: most of us are paying obscene amounts of money for benefits we can't afford to use. It's not just seniors choosing between putting food on the table and getting medical care or medicine we need. It's a lot more than the nearly 50 million uninsured Americans who need health care reform. I believe in a free market, but decisions about people's health, well-being, suffering, and life-and-death decisions ought not to be made while looking at a profit margin. The profit margin will always win. Most of us, who aren't being heard, want single-payer. Let's join the rest of the western world in doing the right thing by our citizens, ok?
2. The economy: Right now, there are people buying up life insurance policies and bundling them as commodities, just the way mortgages were bundled. We need better regulations to stop people from doing monumentally stupid things like this. We also need the oversight and regulation to get our money back from the robber barons and schemers who've proceeded to pay out millions of dollars in undeserved bonuses. Sorry, that doesn't fly. We need a new economy that will serve us through this century and the next, based on technology and green jobs.
3. The environment: This is what will get us all in the end. Climate change is already creating numerous problems that we can't solve immediately. I could care less about saving the planet as an entity, but I'd really like to have a habitable environment to live in. The human race is destroying the only home we've got. Clean coal is a myth, nuclear CAN be done safely, and if it's done at all, must be done safely. We've got sun and wind going to waste, in Norway they've got hydrogen refueling stations the size of a refrigerator, and there's no reason other than will, that we can't do this.
4. Equality: You're CIC, sir. You can issue an order allowing LGBT service members to serve openly. Let the military deal with the logistics, but issue the order. It's costing money, (training, skills, etc.,) and it's costing lives, (mostly skills and personnel that we need in the field.) Marriage is so much simpler an issue than people want to admit. Marriage is both a civil contract and religious ceremony. The government must extend equal protection to ALL citizens. Full faith and credit takes care of the rest, if DOMA is thrown out as the unconstitutional instrument that it is. Let the churches decide for themselves about performing the religious ceremonies. We cannot be held hostage to the moral viewpoint of a loud minority. It's about civil rights and human rights. Imagine where we'd be if Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act had been pushed aside as unimportant. Imagine if the military hadn't been integrated along color lines during WWII. Imagine if we'd allowed the south to secede and propagate slavery in the 1860's.
5. Reproductive freedom: We need comprehensive sex-ed. We need doctors and pharmacists to do their jobs. We need women to be fully autonomous members of society. Our bodies are not political issues. We are not chattel. We are not children. If someone can't perform their job because of a moral conflict, they shouldn't have that job. The government cannot continue to endorse the notion that women can be forced to reproduce. It violates equal protection and it violates the 13th amendment.
6. Poverty: Globally, poverty kills more than 10 million people a year. Domestically, more people than ever are living at or below the poverty line, even though the poverty measurement methodologies have not been updated. Just because we aren't counted as poor, doesn't mean that we aren't. You can't survive on the poverty guideline incomes. People around the world can't survive without clean water. My poverty doesn't make me blind to the suffering of others. It makes me understand it in a non-abstract way. We need a living wage in this country, sir. We don't have one yet.
Sir, I trust that you are trying to accomplish as much as you can. I firmly believe that your intent is true. I also know there is an awful lot of shouting going on. Most of us, regular people, people who are scrabbling hand to mouth, with no safety net, are bleeding to death while congress toadies to corporate donors.
We are dying, sir. We are dying of red tape and politics. It's not merely physical death, or economic death, we are experiencing a death of the spirit, the death of dreams, the death of hope.
I could tell you my personal story, but that doesn't matter. I'm one of millions. We are the faceless, voiceless masses who are not seen, are not heard and who bear the brunt of politics meaning more than people. Congress wants to keep getting elected, parties want to win. There's just one thing wrong with that: it's not their job. The job of the Congress and the President is to serve the American people. The job is to uphold the constitution and serve their constituents. Not the corporations, but the people. Why is that so hard a principle to hold onto?
I love my country, but my country is doing nothing to ensure that the entitlement to: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, is being met. Happiness as a pursuit of self-fulfillment, enrichment, liberty from tyranny of others' beliefs, as more than being born, but the ability to live...where is it?
We can be so much better than this, Mr. President. We need the leadership to do it. Government has to be about doing what is right and what is just, more than it is about doing what is popular or convenient.

Please lead us. Please.
Kristen McHugh
Age 36

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