Dear Senator Obama,
Thank you for participating in the nominating process for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. I was not, unfortunately, able to participate in that process, due to the Washington State Democratic Party’s refusal to accept the state’s primary ballots and my inability to attend a caucus. I am not a Democrat, but would have voted for you – and I intend to vote for you in November. Therefore, I have watched the primaries and caucuses with great interest and would like to offer a couple small reflections that may help you in the future.
I believe you did yourself, voters and the world a disservice when you didn’t even bother to visit states you were not likely to “win” during the primaries. I believe you sent a clear message that you don’t care to hear the opinions of people who do not already support you. Or perhaps, since finances were sometimes tight for you, you simply sent the message those people are not “worth” your time. Please understand, I don’t think that is true but the impression was there. It would have meant so much to folks to have you show interest in them, in spite of polls’ predictions.
You have not made it clear that you, unlike some other people who were running (but very much like Sen. Edwards), do not come from a privileged background. I don’t think you spoke enough about the way you got to college — and through college. I don’t recall ever reading anything about your motivations to become a lawyer or why you chose the employment you did. Perhaps you wrote about it in your book, which I have yet to read? Or maybe you spoke of it in your speeches, but the media chose not to report it? I think, that had you made your non-privileged background MORE of an issue in the regular media, had you shared your experience as a community organizer, more people who are from working-class and lower-income backgrounds would have embraced you.
I know, some of this information is on the campaign website, but to be honest, though I spend hours each day online, I rarely have time to sit and read more than the headlines and articles that are directly related to my current activities. I am certain there are a lot of people who have far less access to — and less interest in — the internet, for whom the information just doesn’t seem to be available. People for whom the three-second sound bite and a few headlines are the bulk of their information.
Now to the things that really have impressed me, the things that make me write and post this publicly:
I have not, in the time since you strode onto the national stage, heard or read about you being cross or mean-spirited toward your opponents. In a nation and world that are filled with hate speech, angry rhetoric and rude gestures, I have been VERY impressed that you remain calm, polite and on topic. Our world, and more immediately our nation, needs more leaders who lead by positive example. I am happy to point you out to my children when I see you on or in the news, and let them observe a man who is kind without being soppy and strong without being abusive, and who is intelligent without being elitist… so they can see that being polite and being powerful CAN go hand in hand.
I also want to be very clear how excited I am to see a person whose background is NOT typical of the upper-middle class running for national office. I believe you will bring a unique perspective to the office of president, crossing not just party lines, but racial, ethnic and class boundaries. Having lived in another country, you know how much can be the same in terms of human experience even in a very different culture.
Finally, the most important reason I will be supporting you as you seek the presidency of the United States is that I believe you have the ability, more than any other candidate this year, to refocus the culture of fear that has been promulgated by the current administration, and create a culture of hope. Americans have always been a hopeful, hardworking people. Whether new immigrants (like your father or one of my grandmothers) or long-term citizens (like the branch of my family that has been on this continent since 1630), we have worked steadily, made do, dreamed big and pulled together. Though we have not always welcomed the strangers (as my Irish forebears could probably attest), nor been tolerant of different cultures, I believe our innate curiosity, innovative thinking and emphasis on personal improvement are still there, hidden under the veil of (what I perceive to be) artificially imposed scarcity and also artificial cultural suspicions that we are being subjected to.
To put it bluntly, the media and the current administration are remaking us into something we have never been. I believe you want to restore truth and kindness to our nation. I hope you will be successful.
Good luck in the next few months, Sen. Obama.
And count me in.
In case anyone wants to get more information, Senator Obama’s website has a lot.
Late note: I saw today that the Personal Change Digest linked to this post. Thanks! This is only about the third time someone has done that.