27 September, 2012

A Sincere and Personal Appeal

Dear Sister and Brother Citizen,

I'm writing to tell you about a recent donation  I made to President Obama’s 2012 campaign by going to this cite:
It was $14. That is an amount I have given before and one I am likely to donate again.

I am retired; my wife is still working; my sons are grown and living away from home, but we still help them financially when and where we can.  I say this not in bitterness, but simply to make it clear that we are not swimming in discretionary income. It takes some genuine commitment to make a donation to a political campaign when the amount one can give is absolutely small, but relatively significant in the context of one’s own situation. 

I am not complaining. I live in a good neighborhood. I have a loving wife and two wonderful sons, five cats, and two darling Shelties who light up my life every day with their charm, exuberance, and endearing actions. Though my purse may be meager, my life is enriched and I have much to be happy about. I still believe in my dreams and still look forward to progress toward a nation that has risen up to live out the true meaning of its creed. My family and I are among the lucky ones in America and on the planet.

But this message is not really about my family and me. It is about the 2012 election. First, it is about the presidential election and second it is about the Senate and House elections. More than any elections held in at least a decade, the 2012 elections truly matter.

Mitt Romney, in Ohio today framed the election as a “very dramatic choice between two competing visions for the country’s future.”  He is correct although his depiction of the choice is generally distorted and his assertion that he has offered sufficient details for people to make an informed choice is utterly absurd. The choice is starker than it has often been in decades not merely between the two major presidential candidates but between the two major political parties. 

President Obama and the Democratic Party offer a vision of America based on the belief that we are greater together than we are on our own—that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. Our party, led by President Obama, is focused on building prosperity from the middle outward, an economy that lasts—an economy that lifts all Americans and brings them together in the quest of a more perfect union with liberty, equality, justice, and prosperity for all. In this vision, all Americans count because they are Americans regardless of their physical appearance, their ethnic heritage, their religious beliefs, their sexual preferences, or their economic status. This vision is unifying and inclusive. It brings us together and challenges us to tap into the better angels of our nature and the finest moments of our heritage. The theme is Forward and this means advancing together, leaving none behind. It does not disparage half the populace and dismiss them as unworthy of consideration or incapable of real contribution to our common destiny. 

The Democratic Party has led the fight for civil rights, health care, Social Security, workers' rights, and women's rights. It is the party of John F. Kennedy, FDR, Lyndon Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama as well as countless everyday Americans, who work each day to build a more perfect union, establish justice, bind up the nation’s wounds, promote the general well-being, provide a vigorous national defense and extend the blessings of liberty to every citizen. Barack Obama is firmly within this proud tradition and he is leading our party to a greater realization of the nation’s cherished ideals and fulfillment of its core promises.

As FDR made clear the Democratic Party understands and has long understood: 

“The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others,

Jobs for those who can work,

Security for those who need it,

The ending of special privilege for the few,

The preservation of civil liberties for all, and 

The prospect of truly enjoying -- the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living

Furthermore the Democratic Party is the party of the Four Freedoms. 

As described by FDR: we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.

This is not some vision tailored to the demands of the 2012 election. It is the enduring commitment of the oldest surviving political party in the world. Though the Democratic Party has not always perfectly pursued and never has completely realized its vision, it has never abandoned it. This is a vision to which the brave and honest can repair. It is worthy of our dedication and our donations. 

The Republican candidate and the Republican Party have long opposed various elements of the Democratic vision. They fought against Social Security and Medicare and they have tried to privatize both. In the face of the worst economic crisis in American history other than the Great Depression, Republicans in Congress have waged unrelenting opposition to every initiative by President Obama and the Democrats to take ameliorative action. They made this pact of balls to the wall obstruction on the night of the President’s inauguration and they have carried it out for forty-five months. 

Although the Republicans now loudly complain about spending, debt, and deficits, they seek to obscure their responsibility for the dire situation. Additionally, the budget plan they so proudly unveiled and their Presidential candidate called marvelous is a hoax or at best a truly tasteless joke. As Henry Blodget and Eric Platt    observed on Sep. 17, 2012, “Based on our analysis, though, the idea that the Romney plan will ease our debt and deficit problem is laughable. Under almost any realistic scenario, it will make the problem worse.”  [http://www.businessinsider.com/how-romney-plan-will-affect-debt-2012-9?op=1# ixzz27b754858] So even their most constant refrain, turns out to be a blatant falsehood or at best a proposition of dubious validity. 

Although the Republican candidate and his party are funded by huge donations from a cabal of millionaires and billionaires with occasional contributions from ordinary Americans, neither the candidate nor the party are inclusive. If there is any doubt as to the veracity of this statement, consider these statements. Mitt Romney says, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." Those voters, "are dependent upon government," and "believe that government has a responsibility to care for them." He went on to say that his job "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." These are not sentiments alleged by President Obama or the Democratic Party. They are Mitt Romney’s candid comments to a room full of $50,000 a plate supporters. In Pennsylvania, state representative Daryl Metcalfe,  agreed with Mitt Romney’s ‘47 Percent’ comments, said low-income earners are “living off the public dole,” and called those who cannot obtain ID for voting “lazy.”  Finally, “according to audio recordings made at a Tea Party event on Monday... Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted divulged plans by state Republican lawmakers to further restrict voting access by imposing more burdensome voter ID requirements in future elections.” 

Despite decades of study showing virtually no use of false identification in U.S. elections or voting by non-citizens. New voting laws in 23 of the 50 states, enacted by Republican-led state legislatures since the party won sweeping victories in state and local elections in 2010, .could keep more than 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens from registering and voting, a new study said on Sunday. This number is so large it could affect the outcome of the November 6 election. Given their disparaging statements and their discriminatory actions, the Republicans are clearly not a party committed to bringing Americans together and responsibly governing in the common good. 

As Michelle Obama, FLOTUS, reminded us:

“And who's responsible for selecting those public servants?  Who is ultimately responsible for the decisions they make -- or don't make?  We are.  That’s our job.  As citizens of this great country, that is our most fundamental right, our most solemn obligation -- to cast our ballots and have our say in the laws that shape our lives.  

“Congressman Lewis understood the importance of that right. That's why he faced down that row of billy clubs on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, risking his life so we could one day cast our ballots.  As he put it, "…your vote is precious, almost sacred.  It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union." 
“And make no mistake about it; this is the march of our time -- marching door to door, registering people to vote.  Marching everyone you know to the polls every single election.  See, this is the sit-in of our day -- sitting in a phone bank, sitting in your living room, calling everyone you know --  your friends, your neighbors, that nephew you haven’t seen in a while, that classmate you haven’t spoken to in years -- making sure they all know how to register, where to vote -- every year, in every election.”

It is also a cause and a march that deserves our dollars as well as our time and effort. We do not have to give huge sums of money, but we should give the little we can. Right now enormously wealthy people are largely contributing massive amounts to Romney and the Republicans. Romney and the Republicans are actively working to disenfranchise millions of Americans. There is no equivalence between either the candidates or the parties. It is a dramatic and momentous choice. Do and give what you can, but for the sake of the Republic and any young person entrusted to your care, do and give something. 

Let none of us run the risk that on November 7, 2012, we will have to look into the eyes of young people we love and admit that we had the chance to make a difference but lacked the courage and the commitment to try. 

 This video portrays the struggle confronting us in dramatized form. An honorable man faces a liar and a cheat. A brave group stands up to a well connected band who would have plunged a city into turmoil solely for their own amusement. The movie was derived from a classic Greek tale of heroic struggle against overwhelming odds. The spirit if not the substance would serve us well in the 2012 elections. 


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