Christine M. Flowers: Dear President Obama: What I need to hear from you

Posted: September 07, 2012

DEAR Mr. President:

I'm not sure you'll get this. Rahm Emmanuel told us on Tuesday that you had quite a collection of mail from other Americans and that you made him read and digest the letters because they spoke of values you "fought for every day." So, while I know you're busy just now, I'm writing on the off chance you've got a few free moments. Given the number of people who've fronted for you at the convention, I'm hoping you've had time to put up your feet.

Speaking of those people, they were an interesting bunch. There was Nancy Keenan, of NARAL, who made the nuanced and perceptive statement that "rape is rape." You must be proud of her.

There was Tammy Duckworth, a true hero, who unfortunately ruined a great speech about military sacrifice by telling - even though we weren't asking - about her sexual orientation.

Then there was Deval Patrick, acting as if he were a key player during the Reign of Terror as opposed to a sitting governor. I was particularly taken by his implication that if I decided to vote my conscience against you, I was "bullying you" out of office.

There was the photogenic keynote speaker, Julian Castro, who gave an attractive slant to an unattractive chant: class warfare.

And there was your lovely wife, Michelle, who took time out of her very busy late-night television schedule to stump for you. I can see why you fell in love with this gracious lady; she loves you, she's smart and the camera adores her.

I was really impressed by the opening acts. White women, Asian women, black women, black men, Latino men, white men, a veritable cornucopia of diversity, so unlike those few tokens the GOP threw together at its convention last week. We definitely got the message that the Democrats are the rainbow coalition. And it was a fabulous intro for you, the political Barack Star.

They diverted our attention from the 8.5 percent unemployment rate, the 500,000 jobs lost on your watch, the stratospheric national debt, the preoccupation with a woman's internal plumbing and the disinclination to respect religious liberty displayed, recently, by your administration. At the very least, they gave you time to collect your thoughts for tonight, and to read more of those letters from Americans like me.

I used to be a member of your party (and still am, until they make the switch official) but was never a supporter. The reason I'm no longer a Democrat is that the party you helped steer drastically to the left became cold and unwelcoming to me. But I don't hate you, Mr. President. I'm not one of those crazies who think you're a Muslim or a foreigner. I recognize what a good father and husband you are. I admire your brain. That said, I'm hoping your acceptance speech will convince me that if you do end up winning a second term, you'll give a fair hearing to my concerns.

I'd like to hear you say something about how, even though you sympathized with Sandra Fluke, you understand that Catholics and all religious people have a legitimate right to believe that the First Amendment applies to us.

I'm sincerely hoping that you will acknowledge women like me, who look at the unborn child as a person of dignity and not an esoteric choice. You don't need to agree with us, but show us the respect we deserve. Your party has a problem with that concept, and it was on full display earlier in the convention. There was a mob-like atmosphere whenever anyone pandered to the "Vagina Vote," a shrieking from the crowd that made me wonder if this was a political convention or a Cecil B. DeMille production. So I'm praying (that word's OK, right?) that you'll teach them some manners and invite them to treat pro-life women as fellow Americans and not acolytes of sharia.

Moving on, I'd like to know what was meant by the phrase "government is the only thing we all belong to." Frankly, that's right up there with "we're the ones we've been waiting for" and "you didn't build that." As someone who has represented asylum applicants from former Soviet bloc countries, I'm familiar with what happens when the government becomes your "friend." You don't have to live in fear of a gulag to lose some of your autonomy - and humanity - when the government grows too big. I know you think Republicans are heartless 1-percenters, but could you at least acknowledge that we belong to ourselves first and to our country second? Will you agree that the social safety net is designed to be a temporary privilege and not a permanent entitlement?

Oh, and will you please stop running against Ayn Rand? She's not on the GOP ticket. In fact, she's dead.

Will you also explain how you intend to put people back to work? I understand that the economy you were left with was not your fault, but you seem to have made things worse. What's your plan, Bam?

And finally, Mr. President, you've got to convince me, a departing Democrat, that you represent me as well as the people who sing your praises. Despite what other Democrats insist, there's no war to be won here. We are all Americans. Even though my values might not line up with your own, you have an obligation to consider me, and those who stand with me, as patriotic citizens.

Tonight, I hope to hear a welcome in your voice.



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