9/19/10 (age 23)
Dear An Open Letter to Barack Obama,
Dude, you blew it. I mean, I think you blew it. From down here in Budget-land (Budget-land?) it’s sometimes hard to tell whether politicians are truly oblivious or just making calculated political gambles. It was especially hard with Bush (I’m still not convinced the guy wasn’t a closet genius), (eh? probably not.) but you’re supposed to be straight-up, legitimately and obviously intelligent. What happened?
Back in ’08 you had the whole country behind you. Okay, so you did have a few people hoping you’d fail, but on the whole, Americans were excited. We were HOPEful that you were going to CHANGE Washington. (burn) We didn’t just come up with these expectations by ourselves. You told us that you were going to improve our government and initiate a new era of bi-partisanship. Again, what happened?
I don’t buy into the whole plot-to-destroy-America thing that commentators on the right have been not so subtly suggesting lately. Liberals have always had a love-hate relationship with socialist ideals; that’s why we have
mMedicare and food stamps and public defenders. Until we have people like Gandhi running companies like Merril-Lynch, there has to be some services that the government provides through taxation, AKA the redistribution of wealth. Even if God himself came down to run AIG, we would still resist the privatization of the police force.<-(I’m not sure I see the connection, but I’m fairly certain people would let God have angels police the world, just saying.) Some entities need to be non-profit and funded through tax payer dollars. Everyone gets that.
That having been said, not everyone thinks that health care is one of those entities. I do, but that’s beside the point, I’m not a politician. You are. You should have seen this backlash coming when you (and when I say you I’m talking about you and your people, your administration, Ried, Pelosi and the rest of the strategists in your party) decided to go the Reconciliation route to sneak health care reform through the Senate. That was BS, you know it, and now you’re going to pay for it. And please don’t send your goons to come pick me up, that wasn’t a veiled threat, I’m just saying the Dems are in trouble come November. (I doubt that Barack Obama sends “goons” after people for things they say on the internet… mostly.)
Look, Barac, at times, life gives us opportunities to do things that would both benefit us and be morally questionable, if not clearly wrong. Pretend that you and I are roommates. One night, while you’re out at the library reading Rules for Radicals, your girlfriend (let’s pretend you’re dating Katy Perry…. mmmm, nice) shows up at our apartment. She’s drunk, horny, and when she discovers that you’re not around, she turns to me to satisfy her desires. While there are no laws against sleeping with your roommate’s girlfriend (that would depend on how drunk Ms. Perry was and how she felt about her own ability to consent while that intoxicated, though I think you know that), it would still be wrong of me to take advantage of the situation. Katy Perry is just going to have to go wanting.
Health care reform should have gone wanting as well. I think we all agree that health care reform is necessary to reign in the ever-rising costs of medical care, but to do it the way you did it was wrong. And I know that Republicans used reconciliation to pass the “Bush” tax cuts, but that’s no excuse. They say two wrongs don’t make a right, and they don’t just say it because it’s catchy. You can’t usher in a new era of bi-partisanship by doing the same crooked things your opponents did when they had the majority.
I know that it must have seemed like it was now or never. How often do Dems have control of the house, the senate, and the White House? But the timing just wasn’t right. The financial system had just been hit by a bus, and the economy was bleeding out of every orifice. (How graphic.) If there was ever a time for both parties to come together to solve a major national problem, that was it. Instead of fast-tracking a stimulus bill by threatening the American people with social Armageddon, and then moving on to spend a year scheming health care into law, you could have done what you told us you were going to do, you could have led both parties, and the nation, into the future.
Imagine a parallel America in which Dems did not abuse their majority in Congress (and yes, I know, Republicans have done it too, shut up), but instead made an honest attempt to work with Republicans to heal the economy. What if we took some Republican ideas (like tax cuts for small and mid-sized businesses) and some Democratic ideas (increasing tariffs on goods produced and imported from less developed countries)<-(I’m not sure I know what you/I mean here) along with some good old fashioned infrastructure spending and a little arm-bending for financial institutions involved in the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, maybe a ban or limit on adjustable-rate loans. Consumer Protection Agency? Easily doable on bipartisan lines. Meanwhile you could have gotten rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to hold onto your base. If Republicans prevent a bill from being passed, you compromise until the bill is passed, or you let it go. No thuggish tactics, no tit for tat, no pork.
Now it’s 2010 in parallel America, and even if the economy is just as bad there as it is here, you can honestly claim that you tried to be bi-partisan. You can blame Republicans for being inflexible when you weren’t able to get some bills passed. All the better if they said no to everything (except they wouldn’t because you’d be using some of their ideas). If Dems had taken this route we would be looking at gaining seats this election season, instead of losing them.
I mentioned at the beginning of this letter that I can’t always tell the difference between government incompetence and government conspiracy. I do, however, see a possible explanation for all the crap Dems have pulled these past 18 months. Maybe it’s a long-term strategy. If Republicans gain just a few seats in both houses, or gain a majority in only one house, both parties will have no choice but to work together to pass new legislation (assuming we don’t use reconciliation again). Then we’ll be able to claim bipartisanship in 2012. But if Republicans take both houses of congress this November, Democrats are going to have a major problem on their hands. They will become the party of no, and if Republicans put forth legislation that appeals to a majority of Americans and we don’t let them through, either by vote or veto, we’re F***ed.
How does one criticize the delusional? How does one judge a fantasy? A friend of mine used to say, “if ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts we’d all have a wonderful Christmas.” God, that’s a stupid saying. I used to hate it when he said that. If he were here right now, I’d punch him. (Not really, we’d probably have a nice chat.)
The piece is entertaining though a bit wordy at times. The Katy Perry example is a bit crass, a bit too flippant about a hypothetical rape, but it suits the writer’s tone.
Frankly, I am at a loss for how to respond to this blend of political letter-writing and high fantasy. Because I struggle to assess it on content, I’ll just assess it’s general qualities. It’s clear, it’s well-written, it has a voice, I didn’t hate it. Grade: A-
I found this in a folder labeled “Blog” but I don’t think it ever saw the light of a computer screen besides my own. I did have a blog the next year in 2011, but this letter wasn’t published on it because my idea for the blog evolved as I was planning it, but that’s a story for another time.
I had some doubts about the handle @Sean4Saw (on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), but after reading this piece, I feel pretty good about the choice. Things kind of went down exactly as I said they would. Barack Obama may have gotten a second term, but the Democratic party has been losing more and more ground since 2010. “We” were as ****ed as I said “we” would be.
I think it’s cute that I was entertaining the idea that the Democrats had some sort of long-term strategy. I guess I’ve always assumed that the people in charge, the politicians and the people you see in the media, the Wall Street people and the CEOs, all deserved to be where they were because of some greater intelligence or element of character. The older I get, the more I think that most of them are just as full of crap as I am, and that that element of character is just good old-fashioned greed.
I don’t know if Democrats and Republicans will ever be able to work together again, but it seemed a lot more possible back in the day, you know?
I love that I used to have the moral authority to tell people about right and wrong with such confidence. It’s easy to give moral advice when you’re never challenged with moral dilemmas of your own. Oh to be 24 again, and delusional as a cat raised by dogs.
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