Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Letter to the President

Well, I've been meaning to reanimate this blog (again), and today's news that Barack Obama plans to announce a multiyear freeze on much of the discretionary federal budget has sufficiently pissed me off to finally prompt a new entry. Actually, it prompted me to write a letter to the White House, already delivered through the online system, with a signed paper copy going in Wednesday's mail. Rather than reinvent the wheel, let me just tell you what I told the president:

Dear Mr. President:

My name is Bill Dauphin, and I’m proud to be your constituent and your supporter. You called the nation to hope, and I responded with time and treasure, phonebanking and canvassing for you in the Hartford, Connecticut, area during both the primary and general election campaigns. When I stood on the Mall, just over a year ago, and watched you sworn into office, it was one of the proudest moments of my nearly 50 years of life.

In today’s news comes word that you plan to announce a long-term freeze on discretionary nondefense federal spending. As I write this, of course, you have not yet given your State of the Union Address or announced the details of your proposal; perhaps the final plan will not terrify and disappoint me as much as what I have heard today does. But for today, I am both disappointed and terrified: At a time when we desperately need a robust government, acting in meaningful and sustained ways to reform our healthcare system, create new jobs, develop new green energy technologies, address climate change, rebuild our infrastructure, reform public education, end our wars and bring our troops home, and rebuild the shattered trust of the world… at a time when we so urgently need to move forward on all of that, an a priori promise to freeze the budget seems instead like a retreat into the pernicious Reagan-era falsehood that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

I beg you, sir: don’t give in. I know the American people seem angry, but surely you realize much of that anger is born of manufactured fear, the result of deliberate and cynical manipulation on the part of the enemies of progress. You must not let your policies mirror the people’s fear: This is a moment instead for leadership. Where federal programs are truly ineffective or wasteful, by all means you must cut them. But you also know that much of what the government does, it does better, and more efficiently, than the private sector can, and much more of what government does is that which the free market would never provide at any price. To accomplish the things you dared us all to hope for will require investment, not parsimony. Raise taxes if you must – raise my taxes – but do not abandon our nation’s future, my daughter’s future, for the sake of a superficial veneer of “fiscal responsibility” and a brief moment of political calm.

You called your book The Audacity of Hope. Well, we’ve had the hope; it’s time for the audacity.
As I say in the letter, maybe it'll all look better after the big speech... but frankly, I ain't waitin' underwater. For all that some have been frustrated with him, Obama represents the best combination of intelligence, progressive ideals, and political pragmatism we've had since the 60s; if he can't outwit, outlast, or outplay the lies and fearmongering of the nattering antigoverenment mob, we are well and truly hosed.

Anybody know if they sell a Rosetta Stone program for New Zealandish?