Monday, December 6, 2010

An Open Leader to President Obama: Fight For Us

Mr. President,

Last year, you were asked a very pointed question by a woman who wanted you to give us a reason to follow you. You gave her your normal policy answer, but it is now clear you missed the point she was trying to make. You didn't get what she was trying to tell you. The result was the 2010 Election. Mr. President, we need you to lead.

One has to ask why a President who has passed as much significant legislation as you have is viewed so weakly. It is easy to blame the right wing media, but it really isn't about them. President Clinton found a way to get through the Echo Chamber with positive marks, even today. He didn't pass half the landmark legislation you have in two years, so what's going on?

The defining moment was on health care reform. It is where you lost your base and your independents. You told us that we would change Washington. You told us that we could change the world. You told us that things would be different. You told us that we wouldn't be helpless to profit hungry corporations, but we would be given choices to bring them in check. And then you compromised. We didn't get what you told us was the key to all those things: A Public Option.

Health Care Reform was something that could have been passed in two months before Senator Kennedy died with a Public Option. Instead, it dragged on for month after month after month, and you sat on the sideline publicly. I am sure you and the White House was working behind the scenes to make a deal to get it done, but none of us ever saw it. And yes, we looked. The Public Option is where you lost your mojo.

Democrats lost 2010 because of two reasons: You failed to lead them on health care reform and lead the American people through the economic troubles; and the Democrats were so busy reading polls trying to figure things out that they couldn't even take a stand on the most basic of policies of tax cuts before the election. Those two things tell us, the American people, that neither you nor the Democratic Party wants to lead.

As we had to Christmas, we see votes on tax cuts that Democrats know will fail for the sake of taking votes. It would make sense if there was a strategy to get the votes and then use them to publicly pressure Republicans with a PR strategy to get what you want. Instead, we got how you were "disappointed" but that is all you ever get.

Mr. President, maybe you aren't getting it. We want you to lead by fighting for those ideals you put forth in your campaign. They weren't just ideals to be compromised on. That would be the way Washington has always worked. We didn't vote for doing things the same way Washington always has worked. We voted to change how Washington works. You were fired up and ready to go, but we haven't seen you fired up over anything since you took office.

Mr. President, there are defining moments. For President Bush 41, it was raising taxes. For President Reagan, it was telling the Soviet Union to tear down a wall. For President Clinton, it was standing up to Republicans and shutting down the government over Social Security. What will be your defining moment?

You need to pick one and make it. We need you to pick one and fight for it. Whether it is insisting that unemployment benefits and each tax bracket be passed as separate bills to be voted on separately; whether it is a public option; whether it is a new stimulus bill; whether it is deficit reduction; no matter what it is, pick something and fight for us. Show us what is important to you.

Don't be "disappointed." Do something. Fire a shot across the bow. Use your Veto. Spend a week talking about nothing but one issue in strong terms instead of soft policy nuances.

If you want your base back. If you want your independents back. Stand up and fight for us. Stand up and show us how you are making Washington about us, not about deals and compromises. Show us how you are making America better for us and not business as usual.

Until you stand up and fight for us, you may be on your way to being a one term President who will have your accomplishments simply repealed.

The Tea Party gained power not because everyone believed in it. Heck, the platform is hardly coherent. The Tea Party was about the government caring about us and doing things for us instead of business as usual. The Tea Party was nothing more than the far right Ron Paul Libertarians and Paleoconservatives appealing to the independents who voted for you not because they agree in ideology but because you didn't stand up and fight for the things you said you would.

Mr. President, it is time to get off the sidelines. You should have started fighting for us two years ago. But if you don't start now, you will have started too late.

Simply put: Mr. President, Fight For Us.

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