Wednesday, November 3, 2010

dear mr. president

the chances of your reading this are very slim. but that's okay since, despite it's being addressed to you, it really isn't intended for you but for the many, many people who still believe in what you hope to accomplish.

our party really took, as you called it, a "shellacking" in yesterday's elections and I know a lot of people are saying it's your fault. perhaps, some suggest, if you'd only compromised more or spent a little less money on the stimulus or found a way to end the war or at least to shut down gitmo. but sir, it really isn't your fault. some of those possibilities might have had a little effect, but the plain truth is that the people who saw this election as a referendum on you would not have voted for democrats anyway and were certainly not the people who voted you into office.
your enemies, mr. president--and by that I really do mean they are your enemies, not the opposition and not the party out of power, sir, they are truly dead set against you--do not see you as legitimate in any way. your election, sir, is frankly an embarrassment to them for reasons you and I both know have to do with the color of your father's skin, and like a team of drunken softball players with a sober ump they simply will not accept your authority.

you are only a year younger than I am, mr. president, and so I know you're aware how important and earth-shattering your election was. within our lifetimes, sir, black people sat in the back seats of busses or made to stand, were made to use separate water fountains and restrooms and pools and schools, were not allowed to vote or be employed or live where they wanted to. in our lifetimes, mr. president, black people were lynched.

black people are not being lynched any more, mr. president.

when I say that, sir, I don't mean to suggest that there was anything you or I did that changed that fact. there was nothing our generation did that changed it. and it was not as if the enemies of black people suddenly woke up one day and said, "you know, lynching is wrong and I shouldn't do it any longer."

what changed that fact, sir, is a lot of black people and white people and people of other colors getting together and recognizing that the people who wanted to lynch black people were not simply people with another agenda who could be reasoned with or placated through compromise. they were the enemy, sir, and they were wrong and they had to be told, once and for all, that what they did and said and thought was wrong and if they continued to do it they would pay a penalty. they would not be rewarded for cutting the body down but leaving the rope up. the rope and the tree and the whole idea had to be done away with. the body could stay.

mr. president, I believe you are right about hope, that it is an audacious thing. I don't have a good answer for you why the democrats took the losses they did yesterday and why our enemies did as well as they did, but I'm sure you have a lot of other people who are willing to tell you that. I can tell you that if we must hope, sir, we must have someone to hope in. we voted for you because we were convinced, and many of us still are, that you are that person. there is a time and a place for compromise but while someone is beating on you is neither. in that iconographic image from your campaign poster, hope is not the symbol for you. you are the symbol for hope. stand up for hope, sir.

bobby sneakers

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