Today I got a letter from the Barack Obama campaign, asking me if I wanted to purchase an “Obama 2012” bumper magnet. I read this while eating lunch, and this is what I wanted to write back in response:
Dear President Obama:
Much as I would like to call myself one of your supporters in 2012, I can’t. Yet. This is not to say that I support any of the current crop of Republican candidates. I don’t and can’t, given their stances and statements. But although I like your ideas and proposals, you haven’t shown the leadership ability, the persuasiveness, and the political skills to get those who don’t agree with you to compromise for the sake of the country. You’ve moved in their direction with few concessions from their side, as opposed to moving both sides to the middle. We need someone with those skills.
So, Mr. President, what would like like to see in a candidate in 2012? Here’s a short list:
First, I’d like a Democratic candidate. I’m sorry to say this, but the Republican party of late has shown themselves as a party that is working (I want to say “pandering”) to specific special interests—the “Tea Party”, the religious right, the wealthy—and often subbornly putting those interests in front of the good of the rest of the country. The Democratic party does that to some extent as well, but at least they seem to be more willing to attempt to listen and compromise.
I’d like a candidate that recognizes that all must sacrifice equally in this present environment. I recognize the need to cut services and support due to the budget. But we can’t just cut; we need to work that second job and bring in more income. This means taxing the wealthy a bit more, and reworking the tax code to eliminate the games that Wall Street likes to play. The simplest solution might be to require Wall Street Corporations to pay tax on the earnings they report to the Street, not the earnings they report to the IRS.
I’d like a candidate that believes in fairness. Shared sacrifice is one example of this. It also means that folks near “the power” shouldn’t be able to get away with things just because they are near the power. We need the tax code to be applied fairly. Yes, that means we need a sales tax for sales on the Internet that goes to the states for sales that occur in those states. This was on the books as a “use tax” in the mail order era, but was hard to enforce. We have computers. We can easily do this, and it will help our states quite a bit.
I’d like a candidate that agrees with the values of the founders—formalize religion does not belong in politics. Religion is not something to be worn on the sleeve or talked about in a speach. It is a personal thing. It is not the place of the government to be legislating morality, other than to make the wide variety of choices believed by people in this great country legal.
I’d like a candidate that values the same things I do: Education. The Arts. Science. This doesn’t necessarily mean direct government support, but tweaking of the tax code could have equivalent effects, such as providing greater deductability for donations to Universities, Arts Organizations, and Scientific Foundations than for donations to religious organizations, especially those that do not use those donations for real charatible works, but rather use the donations to support staff and executives.
I’d like a candidate that believes in defending our country—in a smart manner. This means we invest our defense funds in modern technology for the next war, not approaches from the last war. This includes investments in space and cyberdefense. This means defending our borders not with fences and security theatre, but with techniques that work—and economic approaches that make people want to follow legal approaches to entering this country.
I’d like a candidate that recognizes and rewards hard work. With respect to those that have entered illegally in the past, I’m willing to be more leinent if they have been working, have been contributing, and plan to keep doing so. These are the values that made this country, and those are the people we want.
I’d like a candidate that believes we have a responsibility to repair our corner of the world. This means ensuring there is some form of a safety net for the poorest of our citizens. This means ensuring affordable healthcare. I’m not sure the current approach mistakenly called Obamacare is the best, but it is a start. Even more, the government needs to work on setting acceptable price ranges for medical services as a first step to controlling costs.
I’d like a candidate that recognizes the importance of our infrastructure. Whether it be the physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges—which are vital to commerce—or our electronic infrastructure—which is also vital to commerce: both need to be maintained and protected as national assets.
I’d like a candidate that recognizes the value of strategic investments. Education of our youth is just one. Appropriate emerging technologies is another, as is sciences. America’s greatness has always come from its innovations. More importantly, though, is that we need a candidate that can convince others of the value of those investments as well. Mr. Obama—that’s been one of your problems. You’ve got the idea to invest in the right places. You just can’t convince others to go along.
I’d like a candidate that believes scientific evidence. Yes, that means recognizing that climate change (mistakenly called “global warming”) is happening. Engineers know that anticipating the problem early and planning for it is much more cost effective than trying to reactively address the problem. We need to be ahead of the curve on this one.
Those are just some of the things I would like in a candidate. So, Mr. Obama, your email indicates you want my vote. Become the man we thought you would be.