Dear President Barack Obama,
I received your holiday card this week (nice touch with Bo signing with a paw print!) and I am glad you are willing to open up lines of communication with me. You see, I am one of those to the left of you and apparently you are not very happy with me these days.
Wait, wait. Before you click “Close”, I want you to know that I am from the Pragmatic Wing of the Democratic Party. While I hated that you had to deal on the Bush era tax cuts I understand the “had to” part. However, I share Senator Al Franken’s concern that you punted on first down.
But I don’t really want to talk about the tax cut bill, I want to talk about a bigger issue that has me very nervous: your desire to change the tone of Washington by working with Republicans.
Sir, these Republicans have no interest in working with you. They are not the Republicans of yore: you will not find a Nelson Rockefeller or a Margaret Chase Smith there. If you recall, Senator Smith famously said this about her party during the height of McCarthyism:
I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.
I doubt if the Republican Party could — simply because I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest“.
The bad news is that the American people did just that.
One of the “professional left” (I understand you are really po’ed at them!) said this about your approach:
“We’ll have a debate” he’ll say, as if this were a rallying cry. “Both parties have good ideas,” he’ll say, as if it were true.
It is not true. Both parties do not have good ideas and, it you recall, one of the parties actually said that their number one goal was to make you a one-term president. Not just a little bonus goal … their Number One Goal.
I am concerned that you see your presidency as simply an opportunity to change the discourse in America and that you are willing to sacrifice the things that our country needs to that end. If I thought you had any hope of doing that, I would encourage it. I would love to see a permanent change in the discourse … a return to a time when Democrats and Republicans debated policy with the underlying assumption that both parties wanted the best for America.
But I don’t believe it is possible in today’s climate.
The tea party Republican Party leaders see your skin color and your otherness and use it to ratchet up the “Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear” to appeal to their small-minded followers. We are no more post-partisan than we are post-racial and wishing won’t make it so.
I do not doubt either your heart or your belief in your abilities. I have a lot of admiration for your intelligence and your political skills. I voted for you, I still get choked up when I re-run the Grant Park speech, I phone banked for Democrats in the mid-terms.
The problem is that you are in a contest where the other party is completely willing to blow up everything rather than let you win. And it is vitally important for “We The People” that you win and that they do not.
Too important for you to work from a belief that the other side will play by the rules. They won’t.
Please, save the “changing the discourse” for another day and pull the “this is a battle we cannot afford to lose” out of its storage location … you know, the place where Democrats are keeping all their dry powder.
(you can call me Jan)
p.s. Happy holidays to you too!
You can follow JanF on twitter at JanF at BPICampus.