My neighbor, Dan, whom I respect and admire deeply, has written a beautiful and impassioned letter to his adult children and grandchildren, beseeching them to vote Democratic this November.
With Dan's permission, I reprint his letter here, in full:
October 22, 2008To My Children and Grandchildren:
Dear Steve and Carol, Teresa and Mark, Elaine and John, Laura and Greg, Greg and Sheryl, Dan, Emily, Monica, Bryant, Kevin, Jeremy, Patrick, Amanda, Masie and Aiden:
In early 1776, Thomas Paine, a recent English immigrant to the American colonies, wrote a pamphlet about the issue of American independence from England. Then, as is the case now with Senator Obama’s call for change, the need to consider a major change was confused with misinformation, claims and counter claims, attempts to cause fear if change were to take place, intimidation and outright lies. Mr. Paine’s pamphlet cut straight through all of this and in very clear language, told it like it was, showing how the colonies’ problems were the fault of the King of England and his advisors. His pamphlet, which he called “Common Sense”, clearly made the case for change and the Declaration of Independence.
I’m no Thomas Paine, but it is time for some common sense about this upcoming election and why we need some major changes now – just as they were needed in 1776. This election is very important for all of you; it will basically decide how you will live in the future. You need to know that while there is a lot of attention to Mr. Obama and John McCain as individuals, it is their philosophies, approaches, and the people around them, that really make the difference, and we need the common sense to make the right choice.
For the past eight years, under George Bush, Richard Cheney and their advisors, we have been forced to endure a misguided, controlling Republican philosophy that says if you give tax breaks, government contracts, and other favors to big corporations and very wealthy people, they will create jobs and widespread economic opportunity and the benefits will “trickle down” to the rest of us.
We can see now, with the current financial crisis, that this approach is nonsense. Only trouble has trickled down: Eight years ago, our government had a surplus of money in our Treasury. After eight years of radical Republican philosophy, our country is nearly ten trillion dollars in debt (which, unfortunately, will be your problem for many years). We are spending ten billion dollars a month on a war Mr. Bush and his advisors started by lying to the rest of us; big companies – the ones who were supposed to benefit us – are going out of business because people like John McCain did not want to regulate them, and as a result, more and more people are losing their jobs and savings.
Meanwhile, some of those Republicans and lobbyists who control the government have allowed greed and arrogance to be their guide – several have been caught giving huge contracts to friends and have already gone to jail; others are under investigation, but worst of all, they have promoted an atmosphere of “I’m in control. I can do whatever I want”. This arrogance has also caused major problems with other countries.
Just as in 1776, when the King of England (whose name, by the way, was also George) tried to keep the American colonies under his thumb, the primary objective of the current Republican philosophy is to stay in control – at all costs. To them, the environment does not matter; health care does not matter; even freedom of religion does not seem to matter.
If big energy companies want to harm the environment, fine; if large pharmaceutical companies want to raise prices and increase health care costs, let them; if radical religious interests want to tell our military personnel how to worship God, go ahead – as long as you help us stay in control to use government for our own interests.
We cannot go on like this. We have to come to our common senses. It comes down to this: Senator McCain will continue the radical Republican philosophy of “control for our own self interests, at all costs.” That is not good for you. He may have once been a “maverick” but he has sold out to the radicals and the uncaring zealots in his own party - just to win. Even many who know him well are opposed to him, and his judgment and sincerity certainly has to be questioned by his choice of Governor Palin as his running mate. John McCain is seventy-two years old. He has had cancer and has other health problems. For him to have us think that he seriously considers Sarah Palin a possible President, is insulting. She has no experience relevant to the Presidency and is simply being used by Senator McCain and her own Party in a desperate attempt that uses demeaning “Joe Sixpack” and other pandering comments to attract votes.
Senator Obama is not perfect – no one is. But he is certainly not the bad person that Republican lies have alleged. There are even those who oppose him because he is black. These people are small minded, prejudiced and mean spirited. They have no place in our society. Ignore them. They are only good for showing what we should not be. Senator Obama has the ability and instincts to be President. His philosophy and those with whom he works, is to seek consensus on major issues, not to try and control them. He believes that healthcare is a right, not just a responsibility of those in control, and he is clear thinking on things (even though they may seem far off to some of you) like retirement. He also knows we have to repair relationships with many other countries, and unlike John McCain, made an excellent choice for a Vice President when he selected Joe Biden.
In many respects, it is unfortunate that we have to label ourselves “Democrat” or “Republican”. There are many good, moderate thinking people in both parties who are willing to do what is best for the country, and like Thomas Paine, have a pretty clear idea of what the causes of our problems are. If we had something like an American Independence Party, perhaps it would be easier to deal with the very difficult problems that have arisen in the past eight years. But we have to solve the problems that are important to you now. That means we will deal with the two parties that we have, and focus our government on what is best for most people, not a rich, controlling few. For me, that means the only “common sense” choice is Senator Obama and Senator Biden.
Dad and Grandpa
Please, vote Obama.