An open letter to President Obama

Mr. President:

Congratulations on getting out the door quickly in your bid to be re-elected in 2012. Earning the job of President of the United States is an expensive purchase in this day and age, and I commend you for starting early. The competition is still trying to decide if it wants to put up a real candidate against you or send in a throw-away. Nevertheless, you’re smart to start the fundraising now. You never know how tough the Bachman-Gingrich ticket will be.

Also, I should tell you I appreciate your early-morning text message today. The frequent updates you’ve sent my cell phone since I first started supporting you have been enlightening. On lonely days, that message from 62262 makes me feel like I have a friend in Washington. Today you told me we had more work to do and asked me to pledge that “I’m in.” There was the reflexive, hopeful part of me that jumped to my checkbook to write a big check like we did last time. I nearly yelled for my wife to dig out her Obama Mama t-shirt. I pulled up all the posts–thousands of words–I wrote in support of candidate and President Obama.

Before I could send off a donation or take to the internet to tell people you were going to change Washington and the world, I made myself pause and consider the facts. I know you’re a busy man–those campaign funds won’t raise themselves, now will they?–so I’ll make this fast. I stopped believing in Washington D.C. and its ability to change my life before I could vote. Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Bush did nothing to inspire me further. You however, made me believe there was someone who I could count on to be, for once, different. You made promises and I gave you all I had. I gave you money, I gave you my vote, and I told everyone I knew that I believed in you. They fought me tooth and nail, but I stood my ground and believed harder than I’ve ever believed. And we won! You probably remember most of that, or at least the ledger in your campaign fundraising logs. What you might not remember is this: I sort of expected you to keep those promises. It’s a rule we have around our house. If we say we’re going to so do something, we do it. It’s a fun little rule that keeps us from saying things just to pacify each other.

I understand, it takes time to keep promises sometimes. I was patient and defended you with almost as much dedication as I supported your candidacy. I told your detractors, “He will get around to closing Gitmo. He’ll bring home our troops from Iraq. Those no-bid contracts’ days are numbered. I’m going to have $2,500 cut off my health insurance premium and be able to import my prescription drugs. Those big corporations with the bailouts won’t be able to give ridiculous bonuses to their executives!” I mean, there’s enough egg on my face to support the Omelet Bar at Golden Corral, Mr. President.

It’s hard for we people who fuel the campaigns to understand how difficult your job must be. We probably should’ve recognized that you were naive and didn’t fully understand that changing Washington D.C. is an impossible proposition. That is, we have to accept that you can’t do what you believed what you could do. Or we have to accept that you have chosen not to do what you said you would. It would be helpful for me if you could explain which is the truth. Why? Well, here’s the thing Mr. President. I sort of feel used right now. I now have to accept that you planned this all along, or that there is no one who can change Washington. And I’ll be frank, it’s easier to lean toward the latter, because the former means I’m a naive guy who allowed himself to be used by a political candidate (see, Corral, Golden; Omelet Bar).

There are certainly problems that are beyond my simple mind’s ability to measure. You’re privy to that stuff, I’m sure. There are probably a lot of national security issues surrounding oil producing countries, and I know we can’t get decent men to go out and fight for oil. We have to talk about democracy, human rights, and the stability of our nation. We need a flag issue. I get that part. It would be really helpful for me as a voter, however, if your Pentagon could do a better job of covering up stuff like the Kill Team. And when it’s time to bomb folks, I’d sort of like for you to have a plan and/or reason–even if it’s just another big lie or promise. I know war is a big moneymaker for defense contractors and campaign managers, but come on…Libya is so played, Mr. President. Eventually even the bumpkins are eventually going to figure out the American enterprise of arming rebels to overthrow governments that we will eventually invade and destroy. The perpetual motion machine of war will run forever, but you have fewer than 20 months to convince people like me that you aren’t just George Bush with more promises and better jump shot.

There was a time it seemed impossible you could get elected. There was a time when everyone who had lost hope rose up one last time to stand in defense of change. We opened ourselves up to you, opened our wallets, and gave ourselves one last chance to believe our government could work. Frankly, Mr. President, we thought we changed the world, and so far the only thing that’s changed is my belief in you.

Still, I want to believe. I want to be a guy who can vote with confidence in a man who will keep his promises. In lieu of that, I want to hear why you told me you could and would do so many things that you haven’t done. Unlike many of my contemporaries who will stick by their team no matter what, I’m the type of guy who simply won’t be used twice. I believe that you and I are still aligned philosophically, but I simply can’t and won’t support a man who tells me he will do something and then doesn’t do it.

And so you asked me this morning, “Are you in?”

Am I in? Here’s the simplest way I can put it, Mr. President:

You might get my vote. You will not get my money or my heart again.

One of the people who believed enough to get you elected

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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21 Responses

  1. Pauly says:

    Five words for you: Tim Geithner and Larry Summers.

  2. Luckbox says:

    Part of me wanted to come on here and say, “I told you so,”… and I guess I just did, but that’s not what I’m here to say.

    The reason Pres. Obama didn’t follow through on his promises because once he became president, he gained access to the same information that Pres. Bush had when he decided Gitmo was necessary and that military tribunals were the preferred route for terrorists. Pres. Obama found out that pulling troops out of Iraq immediately was a bad idea. And he learned that there are cases in which the military might of the world’s only superpower must be used even when the national interest isn’t obviously clear.

    I’m concerned that many of Pres. Obama’s decisions seem to smack of political immediacy and not from a reasoned decision-making process, but he hasn’t been nearly as bad of a president as I feared.

  3. Special K says:

    Otis, It takes a big man to say so. I’m impressed.

  4. MiamiDon says:

    Fantastic Post/Letter. I think what you wrote sums up nicely what the people who bought in to Obama are dealing with.

    I’m obviously with CJ on this one. Obama is not nearly as bad a President as I feared. Given the same info as Bush, dealing with the same Washington, the same Middle East and what choices did he really have.

    I do have to laugh at the liberal machine that got him elected. Not sure they got what they paid for, or what other people paid for?

    Quality stuff like always Otis.

  5. Karol says:

    Loved this. No gloating from me at all, I would have been very happy if Obama lived up to even some of the expectations he set. He has been as bad a president as I feared, though, especially on foreign policy. I don’t like insulting our friends and making nice with our enemies.

    Having said all that–I predict he gets a second term. I really hope he doesn’t but I think Americans like giving a sitting president another chance.

  6. Pauly says:

    Here’s what the off-shore bookies think about the Presidential race:

    To win Presidency: Obama -125, Palin +1000, Romney +1200, Biden +1500, Huckabee +1500, H. Clinton +1500

    Party to Win: Dems -160, GOP -120, OTHER +3000

  7. I donated quite a bit of money to Kerry’s Presidental run. After UIGEA was passed I told the DNC every time they called that I would not donate another dime until UIGEA was repealed. I have stuck by that promise. I voted for Obama but didnt contribute to his campaign.

    I too was very hopeful for Obama and his yes we can platform. There have been small victories. Healthcare reform was definitely needed. the fix wasn’t perfect but I can tell there are a ton of parents who are grateful that they can keep their unmarried dependent children on their medical polices until 26 (dental insurance doesnt follow the same guidelines but many of the companies that get their insurance thru my company elected to change dental too. It is much cheaper to keep a child on a parents plan then to obtain a cobra or individual policy for said child. This small measure alone decreased the number of uninsured.

    The president of my company said it best Politicians are too busy worried about getting re-elected once they are in office and lose sight of the voters got them in their in the first place.

  8. G-Rob says:

    Fantastic post Brad and I think you’ve captured my feelings quite well.

    FWIW, I can’t let you just make things up CJ. The trials were held at Gitmo because congress blocked civilian trials in New York.

  9. Steve Wood says:

    Like Brad, I became a believer in change and actively supported Obama. I had honestly believed that George Carlin’s “American Dream” rant was just that, a paranoid rant. Now I am 100% convinced that Carlin had it spot on. Warning… this is George Carlin, expect colorful language.

  10. Poker Shrink says:

    Being older, I drank the kool-aid in a much more distant past election but you nailed it Brad, now come on over to the third option.

    Great post.

  11. Winweasel says:

    During the 2006 gubernatorial election in Massachusetts, I came to the conclusion that I’d been wasting my vote in almost every election since 1980 when I was first eligible to vote. I had been voting for the lesser of two evils in almost every election. In 2006 I listened to Deval Patrick and Kerry Healey spew a bunch of double speak that basically amounted to “We will not do anything about patronage jobs in government, nor work to lower property taxes, nor reign in pension spending or benefits for government workers. We will maintain the status quo and you may have it topped with caramel or whipped cream but that’s the extent of the change between us.”
    That was when I came to the conclusion that voting for the lesser of two evils in a political race is simply betting that you are helping to kill your city, town, county, commonwealth, state, or republic a little more slowly. I resolved to vote for the best candidate for an office from that date on regardless of their electability and regardless of whether they were even on the ballot.
    In 2008, faced with a choice between a triple dipping opportunist who mantles himself in a single selfless and courageous act as armor against all the questionable, corrupt, self serving, and contemptible actions of his life and careers and a narcissistic demagogue with a messiah complex, I chose to write in candidates I felt would actually serve the Republic rather than merely further burnish their own egos. I wrote in Bill Owens (former Republican governor of Colorado) and David Freudenthal (then Democratic governor of Wyoming). While I didn’t agree with everything these men did or endorse, I respected the fact that both, while running for office, made promises to do certain things if elected; and, when elected, did those things.
    Unless we, the voters, stop voting for party products feed us by corporate paymasters for the two major parties, we will never again see any real hope for “the American Dream” or any reversal of this nation’s decline into oligarchy from republic. We need to recognize that the choice of the lesser of two evils is still an evil. To achieve real political change that doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun, we need to vote for people who will act in the best interests of the nation and people as a whole rather than simply in the best interests of themselves and their major campaign donors.
    I came to the conclusion then that

  12. Luckbox says:

    G-Rob: I can’t let you make things up.

    The Administration had a year to start the trial in NYC before Congress (on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote) voted to prevent it. They chose not to because they made a political calculation that it was toxic. That’s what this administration does… they make political calculations rather than make decisions based on their beliefs.

  13. Human Head says:

    “Finally — and as is usually true for this excuse — the notion that “Congress made him do it” is totally false: aside from the fact that the Obama administration long ago announced that it would retain the military commission system, the White House — long before Congress acted to ban transfers of detainees to the U.S. — removed decision-making power from the DOJ in the KSM case and made clear it would likely reverse Holder’s decision. As The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen notes:

    Long before the formal “restrictions” came into place on Capitol Hill, the Justice Department could have forced the issue in Congress by bringing Mohammed to trial in the U.S. Even recently, it could have asked the courts to broker the fight between the executive and legislative branches over the fate of the men. It could have put the heat on truculent local politicians. But the feds chose to avoid all of those fights until it was too late. One day, perhaps, we’ll really know why.

    The Congressional ban is the excuse, not the cause.”

    Relevant links in from the quoted text available at the source, here:

    The Impotence of the loyal partisan voter

  14. AT says:

    What I love about Luckbox is that, while it took Obama getting that privileged information to figure all that stuff out, Luckbox was able to figure it out right away!

  15. BAM-BAM says:

    I think you all bought in to the Obama program. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, buy-ins are for suckers.

    FWIW though, the entire World was fooled.

  16. Scott says:

    The main thing wrong with this is the rube act. It doesn’t fit you, and it deflects responsibility.

    Luckbox, like me, doesn’t need any privileged information. It is, was, and will be apparent from the git-go. A majority, though, chose not to be even minimally rational. They’re the ones who took two years to “figure all that stuff out.” I predict they’ll do so again in 1.5 years, figuring they didn’t hope hard enough.

  17. Julius_Goat says:

    I voted for Obama because I thought (and still think) that he was the most likely of the available candidates to:

    1) Walk back executive over-reach and claims on imperial power.
    2) Restore basic Constitutional liberties that had been violated through illegal wire taps, habeas exemptions, PATRIOT Act horridness, etc.
    3) Stop our immoral and illegal practice of indefinite detention, prisoner abuse and torture.

    I’d be the first to admit that Obama has been pretty disappointing on all these counts (Maybe a D+ on item 3, F- on 1 and 2). What’s worse, I also suspect that he will, for all his compromise and failure in these areas, once again be the most likely available candidate in these areas in 2012. I’d love to think that the alternative would be better than bad, but in fact the alternative (given the currently likely field) will not just be bad. It will be insane.

    However, if desiring the list above is no longer even “minimally rational”, and this is “obvious” with or without privileged information, and if our choice on those issues boils down to a choice between “very shitty” and “all the shit you can possibly imagine”, then we definitely have a bigger problem than who the president will be.

    That problem would be: “Since we no longer are a representational democracy ruled by laws, what IS our new form of government and what are we ruled by?”

  18. KenP says:

    Tonight is a dinner for the Prez in Chicago. I take it they shouldn’t count on you? It is only $35,800/per.

  19. Jason says:

    Looks like somebody in Washington read this article and got really, really pissed off about it.

  20. Golden says:

    I bought the whole change song and dance too. I used to lean to the right. No more, but I’ve found the left just as distasteful if not more so. I can’t support either side and still look in the mirror.

    Question for you; Why would you still consider giving Obama your vote and not your money? Think about it before you give me an answer, or even if you only answer the question to yourself.

    Your a good dude. I like that you appear to have some honor.