Sunday, November 17, 2013

Being A Single Drop in an Ocean

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

How often do you get a letter from an ordinary citizen?

I'm sure you hear from lobbyists and yes men, people who would have you believe that they represent the people. They don't. I'm sure you hear a great deal from corporations hoping to promote their subsidies, but regardless of the law, a corporation is not an individual, so that doesn't count either. (A corporation does not have hopes, dreams, nor should a corporation have the rights of an individual. Free speech? The pursuit of happiness? There is no true correlation between an individual and her rights and a corporation and its interests, which is a fancy word for 'profits'. Since when did you hear of a corporation yearning for a better education or the right to govern her own body? I know you don't enact the law, nor do you interpret the law, but I just had to throw that in there.) In your position, you also hear from pollsters, but I'm not sure a poll can truly portray the concerns of your citizens.

So, I figured it was time for you to get that letter, the letter from an ordinary member of an ordinary family. I am not a wealthy donor. I am not a lobbyist. I do not represent a corporation. I'm simply a stay-at-home mom who works on a daily basis to keep my family running, who contributes to my community, and who hopes that there are enough like-minded people in the nation who will follow suit.

In my family, we are blessed with enough most of the time. My husband and I struggle to help our son make his way through school and to make sure he becomes well educated in the process. We discuss childhood development, the policies of the school district, and how to develop integrity in a young mind. We manage our schedules around his karate classes, volunteering at Boy Scout meetings and campouts, volunteering in the school, participating at church, walking the dog, and helping our son develop a strong group of friends while we maintain our own. We live in the kind of community where we run into friends and acquaintances at the library and the grocery store and, believe it or not, we actually get things accomplished during those chance meetings.

My friends and I discuss education trends, methods of increasing literacy, how to manage health issues, nutrition and fitness, the role of art in the community, the reduction in basic privacy and freedoms, giving back or paying it forward, the cohesiveness of the neighborhood, the fight against drugs, and the future of our children.

So how should this affect what you're trying to accomplish? Let me count the ways:

  • First of all, I believe in the work that you are doing. It would be easy for you to get discouraged with all of the opposition you encounter. I believe that most of that opposition is racist in nature. Sorry for that. You don't deserve it any more than the average black man deserves to get searched when he shops at Macy's.
  • I appreciate that you didn't back down when radical members of Congress hijacked our government's budget, temporarily closing down programs such as Headstart and Meals-On-Wheels in their attempt to circumvent the process of law established by the founders of our nation. That process is there for a reason.
  • I know there are challenges that your healthcare program faces, but some of us believe that all people, especially children, are entitled to basic healthcare. Thank you for that. The cost of healthcare is a big deal in our family, but the efficiency of available medical care is as important to us as we face our particular set of health problems. As it is, we struggle to get the kind of care that we would like to receive and our insurance, a part of the profit-centered system that currently exists, is an impediment to that care. My hope is that your system will help to iron out these impediments. I'm telling you, these insurance companies won't back down easily. They like making money without having to pay for medical expenses.
  • The deficit? It's hard to know what to believe. You need to know that there is no clear information about the national debt that trickles down to people like me. If I were to believe one faction, you've saddled us with overwhelming debt. If I believe another group of people, you've actually reduced the deficit. I would really like to know where the truth lies. How can you better convey that information? How can you create a more transparent system for showing the way our tax money is spent? I'd love to see it.
  • I know people who have been illegal immigrants in this country for years. These people don't receive basic freedoms that hardworking people like them deserve. Their immigration status gives employers the right to take advantage of their time, to pay them a pittance, and to eliminate any benefits. These people are still poor for that reason alone. We are a nation of immigrants, so unless we want to send the pilgrims home and leave the country to Native Americans, your plan to allow illegal immigrants a path to citizenship is the right thing to do. Building a longer, wider wall to keep illegal immigrants out is a waste of money and time.
  • Please close Guantanamo and put the remaining prisoners on trial. I know it's complicated, but a person's basic rights to a fair trial are simple, even if they are a terrorist.
  • I'd really appreciate if you would move forward with protecting us from climate change by enacting a carbon tax. It will do no good to get medical care for poor children or to improve our educational system if we can't survive the environmental changes that we have caused. Really, I do think we're sticking our heads into the sand on this. I would also love to hear clearer advice about what ordinary citizens need to accomplish in this regard.
  • Can you change the tax code to eliminate corporate subsidies? I've heard that a set percentage for everyone would do the trick. Is that an oversimplification? The current code with its tens of millions lines of regulations is not working. The poor remain poor, the middle class pays the bills, and the rich find loopholes so they get richer.
  • I appreciate the First Lady's attempt at fighting the battle against obesity, but two things stand out in my mind with regard to her program: school lunches still suck; and no kid wakes up in the morning and decides that he wants to be fat, so we need to make sure that we aren't fueling the trendy wave of cruelty toward people and kids who struggle with their weight. There is no easy solution to obesity or someone would have made millions on it already.

Have I covered everything? I haven't really discussed the human need for art or the ways we can create more tightly knit communities. I missed technology completely. And I didn't complain, though I should have, about the degradation involved in traveling through airport security. Maybe I'll cover those things in another letter some day.

Thank you for lending me your ear. I had gotten an email that promised me a moment of your time, but I realized that it was a blatant attempt at soliciting a donation. My husband sent a donation to your last campaign and my son still has the photo of your family on his bulletin board above his desk. He is such an optimist. I wonder where he gets that trait?

On that note, I send this letter, hoping that in some small way, it can make a difference.

Sincerely, ...

Do I dare send it? Oh, I know that it will lie in the inbox of some intern. It may even undergo some special scans. Isn't it sad that time and energy need to be taken to protect our interns?

Maybe I'll win the lottery. Maybe I'll get struck by lightning. Maybe someone will read my letter. At least I can say I tried.

Thank you for listening, jules

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