Monday, November 17, 2008
Open Letter To Barack Obama
Dear Mr. President-Elect,
I'm aware of the presumption here; first and foremost thinking you or anyone near you will ever see this; knowing letters like these abound in the interwebs like fruit flies in that other web, outside the window of my kitchen; and, of course, thinking I have something useful to say. But this, I hope, is a little different, because I admit I know next to nothing; and I ask even less.
Already I sense a list of demands out there -- differing from each other, often at odds. People and groups who supported you are elbowing their way to the table, enunciating expectations and -- sometimes none too subtly -- suggesting electoral consequences were you not to satisfy them. Not me.
Between my wife and me we contributed more to your campaign than to all previous campaigns at all levels: presidents, governors, senators, combined. (Well, that might not be strictly true: I gave a big chunk when my wife ran -- successfully -- for the school board.) And we gave to other groups that might help in your election, and to congressional candidates from other states where it seemed a boost might matter. Even as our savings poofed into the oblivion of a failing economy, we kept giving, thousands of dollars by the time it was over. Such was our belief that you are the right person for this time. And all we hope for is this:
Don't listen to any of 'em, or to us, for that matter. Listen to your advisers (I'm okay with whomever you choose for your cabinet and policy teams by the way), trust your intelligence, and do what you conclude is right: address problems, not politics. Forswear the "permanent campaign." Our belief that that is exactly who you are is what got us solidly on board. I don't care if your policies are "liberal" or "conservative," just that they have a chance of succeeding. I believe that the majority of voters for you did so in that hope: for label-free, fact-based, thoughtful policy, accountable to the truth. For a welcome change.
I'm pretty sure you don't need to hear this, and I'm a little embarrassed to have said it, because throughout your campaign you proclaimed it yourself, many times. But since most of the advice bubbling up in bytes is specific and often particular to one interest-group or another, I thought you might like to know that to me at least, you owe nothing specific; my donations came string-free (I feel your sigh of relief!) At long last, all I wanted was a president with extraordinary intelligence, the ability to engage ideas from all points on the compass, and to find solutions based in reality, above politics. That will be more than enough return on the investment (and maybe even the return of my investments!); and, most certainly, it would assure your reëlection, even absent -- were it to be the case -- votes from the extremes.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of your campaign was to convince so many that we're all in this together; and to engender the belief that each of us has a stake in the government, after all. Your continued ability to inspire and reinforce that commitment (it's amazing: I really think it's more than an empty sentiment for many people now, thanks to you) will be a necessary part of your success.
Yes, I'm a liberal; and I happen to believe that facts favor progressive policy. Pragmatic policy. So I'd bet your efforts will be in that direction. But if they work, I don't really care.
Yours optimistically, humbly, and with great relief,
P.S: The video is from the greatest concert movie of all time: "Mad Dogs and Englishmen." I think it should be screened at the White House (to a carefully selected audience) when you need an uplifting break. And it's my opinion that Leon Russell, herbaceous mellowness as seen above notwithstanding, made Joe Cocker who he is.
P.P.S: Having watched you last night on 60 Minutes, reconfirming everything I've come to believe about you, this letter seems particularly dispensable. But I'm posting it anyway: you know how it is with us bloggers...