Friday, October 31, 2008

A Letter To My Fellow Citizens

We stand at a pivotal moment in history. How will future Americans judge what we do this Tuesday? Will our children and grandchildren know we tried to help America change course? Will we choose unity rather than division, hope rather than fear, positive ideas or failed policies of the past, good stewardship of America's resources or massive giveaways to crony donors? Our choice has never been clearer. At this most challenging time, only Barack Obama has courage of his convictions, constructiveness of approach, steadiness under pressure, the energy, ideas, intellect and proposals for real change to lead our country. On November 4th, our nation needs your vote for Barack Obama for president.

Overwhelmingly, Americans believe we are on the wrong path. We desperately need real change. As Barack Obama reminds us, real change isn't the same party doing the same things that have wrecked our nation's economy. It's not pretend reformers who say one thing and do another. We've lived for most of the past six decades with Republicans in charge, when our problems have mounted, corruption increased, deficits grown, and size of government expanded.

"Trickle-down economics" failed. Excessive de-regulation imperiled us all. Our beloved nation's economy has been jeopardized by this administration and its irresponsible supporters like John McCain, who voted with Bush over 90% of the time. John McCain has no plan to leave Iraq and is clueless of its economic impact here at home. As costs of the Bush-McCain war without end weigh down our economy, McCain's economic plan coddles the very companies causing the problems we face.

Meanwhile, the poor and middle class suffer the consequences of Bush-McCain incompetence. Americans do better under Democratic presidents. It is our holy responsibility and sacred trust to provide good stewardship.

How does John McCain acknowledge and handle this responsibility? He admits he has no grasp of economics. His own chief economic adviser, Phil Gramm, is part of the problem. Gramm's massive energy and banking deregulation paved the way for both the terrible Enron collapse and the current banking and mortgage crises. John McCain's campaign manager is Freddie Mac lobbyist, Rick Davis, who tried to prevent regulations that could have prevented the current crisis. No-reformer McCain has 177 lobbyists working on his campaign, including 83 from the banking and mortgage industries alone.

Bush-McCain Republicans have gone too far. But John McCain plans even more reckless deregulation and more tax cuts for the rich, both of which will only make our situation worse. And just this week we learned that, in his waning days in office, George W. Bush is ramming through more deregulation without Congressional approval.

Barack Obama will right the mistakes of George Bush, not continue them, as John McCain would do. John McCain has no economic plan and no ideas, so he misrepresents the facts about Barack Obama. Barack Obama will re-introduce reasonable, but necessary banking regulation to protect Americans. Any economic stimulus Obama proposes is "paid for" by cuts to other programs, or increasing taxes upon the wealthy (who've benefited disproportionately even as the rest of us have seen our dreams go up in smoke). Unless you fall within the top 5% of Americans, your taxes won't go up.

The majority of small businesses won't have their taxes go up either. Barack Obama will remove incentives for companies which export our jobs and reward those who grow US jobs. Read more about it at

The Wall St. Journal reported that John McCain plans to cut 1.3 trillion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid, much-needed programs which are already hurting. Seniors shouldn't have to worry if crucial programs will be there for them. Few seniors can afford the draconian cuts McCain plans.

McCain also plans to privatize Social Security. He won't call it that, but it's privatization just the same. His plan for "personal accounts" is a scheme to defund Social Security system and divert funds to private accounts for the young. But, McCain's plan, by design, will ultimately cause the system to run out of money. All generations will be up the creek and out of luck. The current Wall Street volatility shows how risky market-driven Social Security would be. Barack Obama will oppose any effort to privatize Social Security and he'll restore its financial position so it's there for current and future retirees.

Barack Obama will protect the work-related pensions of Americans. I can tell you that, without a president who cared about such matters (as Bill Clinton did), my own parents would have lost their pension due to a corporation trying to skip out on its pensioners. If you care about pension protection, it matters which party is in office.

For those not on Medicare or Medicaid, Obama's health care plan will expand access to health insurance and make it more affordable. It is not, as McCain falsely claims, government-run medical care. It's just common sense approaches to make the system we have work better for all of us. John McCain's plan is really noninsurance. All McCain offers is a tax credit of $2,500 ($5,000 per couple) after you buy coverage on your own. Unlike Barack Obama's plan, McCain's non-plan offers no help for those who are priced out of insurance, have preexisting conditions, or have been canceled. McCain would tax health insurance benefits offered by employers, which could undermine the employer provided insurance most Americans have. Without the purchasing power of groups, insurance costs would escalate under McCain. So, under McCain noninsurance, more people would go bankrupt due to medical expenses.

In contrast, Barack Obama's plan offers you the option of keeping your current plan or having access to the same insurance plan Congress has. In other words, you'd be able to buy a policy like your member of Congress has. Remember, this is not government-run health care.

Unlike John McCain, Barack Obama sees education as the cornerstone in our democracy. We need informed citizens (and leaders) so we can navigate the complex world we live in. Sarah Palin is the most ill-informed VP candidate in history. John McCain hasn't even entered the digital age (he doesn't know how to use a computer or email). John McCain is just out of touch. Barack Obama role models learning, not only in his own education, curiosity, and idea exploration. He fosters the same in his children. But he knows parents can only do so much on their own. We must see the education of our young and better public schools a compact we make with the young. Schools don't need more unfunded mandates which drag them down.

Barack Obama also will open up college doors to more students and ease the burden of debt saddling graduates by allowing more of them to give public service in exchange for tuition. For those who don't choose college, he supports better technical training program options.

Ironically, while the Bush administration has expanded government and has led the most intrusive efforts against US citizens ever launched in America, McCain-Palin assert that Democrats are the party of big government! Americans worry about the Constitutional over-reaching by the Bush administration, for example, by operating under the flawed notion of the "unitary executive." Bush believes the president can do whatever he wants, regardless of the law or other two branches of government. But McCain-Palin aren't satisfied. Recently, Palin went so far as to say she'd expand the power of the Vice Presidency even more.

The Bush doctrine of preemptive war has violated our own and international law. Now, even US citizens can be imprisoned, held for no reason-- if the president says so. McCain claimed to oppose Bush on the elimination of habeas corpus, NSA spying against Americans, and torture. Then he caved and supported the Bush agenda. In a tantrum last September, McCain called for three million members of the centrist political action group (which supported Bill Clinton against impeachment and Al Gore for president) to be kicked out of America!

Political vendettas are not the change we need. The pendulum has swung too far and must be brought back nearer the center. What will we tell our grandchildren about taking a stand in defense of our Constitution?

Barack Obama believes there is a role for government on our behalf, not by intruding itself into our private lives, or doing what we can do for ourselves, but rather by doing what individuals cannot do for themselves: civil and national defense; education; infrastructure; oversight; consumer protection; sound environmental and economic stewardship; diplomacy; and national and international conflict management.

But when the chips are down, when all else has failed, we know that we are our brother's keeper. We honor the humanity of even, and especially, the least well off among us. We strive to build something better for our country-it's our shared purpose, our legacy.
Barack Obama has worked tirelessly on real ethics reform, which he passed by reaching across the aisle in a real bipartisanship.

Barack Obama worked with Dick Lugar to secure the world's nuclear stockpiles and make us safer, while his opponent has been AWOL. John McCain's record shows he's better at grandstanding than actually reforming anything. When McCain pretends to reform a program or government process, he then reverses his support, guts the bill, or votes against it (even bills with his name on them). He even gutted McCain Feingold. McCain feigns care about veterans and then votes against Sen. Jim Webb's GI bill of rights. Then he claims he's a "reformer."

Barack Obama will make the federal government work for citizens again, be more transparent, and more accessible. Obama has spent his whole life working to make his community, state and nation better.

The ten-billion-dollars-a-month Iraq War drags on with no end in sight. We must be tough on terrorism, but the Iraq war is making that harder. Barack Obama will end our commitment there, a country which has asked us to leave. He'll keep us safe, but he understands that staying in Iraq makes us less so. He had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning. He warned that, in fighting the war in Iraq, we'd became diverted from the task of finding and punishing those who actually threaten us. And, we have.

Barack Obama will never hesitate to protect and defend us, but he'll wage war only when necessary. And he'll tell us the truth about it. And John McCain dangerously guarantees us "there will be more wars" and an even more belligerent agenda than George W. Bush had. But worse, John McCain doesn't understand, much less practice, diplomacy. His statements and press conferences reveal ignorance of international relations, geography, and history. He confuses countries, which country borders on which, or which Iraqi sects are which, which ones are "for us" and which are "against us." Recently, he mistakenly thought that the president of Spain was not an ally of the US.

Coupled with a VP nominee who knows nothing whatsoever about foreign affairs, the Republican ticket would be disastrous for America. It's about time we reject absurd notion that our nation's CEO can take pride in ignorance. Our nation and its destiny are too important.

In addition to moral considerations (war should be a last, not a first resort), we must acknowledge that waging war without end and/or wars on multiple fronts is not sustainable. Barack Obama will re-engage real diplomacy on our behalf and restore American leadership around the world, which comes not at the point of a gun, but rather in the strength of our ideas and ideals. It comes from our credibility, which under this Republican regime, is sorely lacking.

I am so proud that Barack Obama is running for president. We need his ideas; energy; strength; and calm, steady leadership to weather this economic storm. We need Barack Obama to bring us government of, for and by the people again. Barack Obama is a leader for our time, a once-in-a-lifetime leader. He's done everything he can to earn our vote. Now it's up to us to make it happen.

Democrats, Independents, and many Republicans join with us in a new national unity to change course. In greater numbers than ever before, we'll go to the polls. We'll wait in line and put up with any inconvenience (as long as it takes). With hope in the future, faith in ourselves and in our candidate, we stand proud. We are ready for the national healing our choice portends and the responsibility it connotes. Moving forward, we pledge our continued commitment to engaged citizenship.

It is the least we can do for the country we love.

(Cross-posted at