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An Open Letter to President Obama on His Encore Career

January 11, 2017

Dear President Obama-

I listened to your farewell speech last night realizing that it will be at least another four years before I hear such an eloquent, thoughtful, measured, and reasonable voice speaking under the Presidential Seal. At the same time, I realized that our nation will miss more than your oratorical skills. They will miss having an exemplar for calm, lucid and passionate leadership, an example of a politician who strives for compromise and advocates for the good that government can do if it is funded and if the public is engaged.

But I also realize that your career as a public figure is far from over and sense that you still have the fire in your belly to speak for the voiceless and promote the unity our nation needs. With that assumption in place, I humbly offer two suggestions for paths you should pursue: one short term and one long term.

In the short term, your party needs to clarify it’s vision. Today the Democrat party is the “not-Republican party”. AS a result, it is unclear what the party is FOR, apart from being pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights. The Democrat party seems unwilling to be unapologetically FOR government regulation, FOR redistribution of wealth, FOR racial and economic justice, FOR worker’s rights, or FOR guaranteed health care for EVERYONE without the intermediation of the profiteering health insurance and without the provisions assuring pharmaceutical industries a piece of the action. And because the Democrat party failed to accept the label of “liberals” who supported “government regulation”, our country has fallen under the spell of an illiberal salesperson who now has the full support of a party beholden to amoral billionaires who want to strip government controls to increase their bottom lines. I trust you to develop a set of principles for your party to embrace going forward and trust that those principles will reflect the ideals you set forth in your speech last evening.

In the long term our country needs the voice of a civil rights advocate like Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. We need a leader who will speak against what Dr. King called “the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism”. In his speech at the Riverside Church fifty years ago, Dr. King spoke against these three forces, which he believed were tearing our country apart. Like you, Dr. King saw the force of the ballot box as the means of defeating these corrosive elements and, after the passage of the Civil Rights bill in 1964, he spent the last four years of his life dedicated to fighting the poverty of resources and the poverty of spirit that arose from the gross disparities in wealth in our country. You could provide our country with the kind of moral clarity Dr. King offered. In doing so, you could seal your legacy as a leader who sought high-minded unity in the face of bigotry, greed, and perpetual war.

I wish you had a Congress that was willing to work with you. I wish you led a party that had the courage to speak out against racism, greed, and war. And I wish that those who are suffering at the hands of the creative destruction of capitalism understood that the cause of their problems is not too much government but too little. If you help define your party’s mission and purpose and continue to speak out for all that is good in our country, maybe the next President who is elected will have what you lacked… and if that occurs, our country will be stronger and more united than ever.

  1. January 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    “I wish that those who are suffering at the hands of the creative destruction of capitalism understood that the cause of their problems is not too much government but too little.”

    too much of the wrong (corporate-run) government, and too little of the right (people-run) government. as long as corporations are people too, people will have no (rightful) authority– we have “fake government” instead– false authority. co-opted government, corporate puppet government. obama promised to stand against it when he ran in 2008. i would say he failed far too spectacularly to give congress so much of the credit. he did say one thing in all fairness: that if people really cared about progress, they would have to do it themselves. that was a theme early on; and (with the possible exception of occupy ____) we failed, too.

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