June 07, 2006

An Open Letter To The Commander-In-Chief

Dear Mr. President:

In the 230 years the United States of America has existed, it has stood for concepts and ideals never before broached on the world stage. Most importantly, it has stood for people and upheld the rights that allow those people to be individuals. This country was molded from a clay made up of equal parts lofty ideals, dissatisfaction with the status quo and concern for individual liberties, mindful of the separation between laws and beliefs. It is often said that history repeats itself and, therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect those same concerns to arise again. In the year 2006, we know this truth to be self-evident.

I am a middle-class, white, well-educated man. I’m a husband, a father, a professional. I get up early in the morning, drive to work, drink too much coffee, try the very best I can to do my job well, pack it all up after nine or ten hours, come home to my family and soak up their love. Then I sleep so that I can do it all over again the next day...and the day after that. I am full of ideas, hopes and dreams which, on balance, eclipse any of my life’s disappointments, the everyday let-downs. Maybe I’m the target demographic of your political sweeps. If so, let me share with you a few of my everyday concerns.

I’m worried about…

…the quality of my life and that of my family.

…the cost of living. It costs so damn much to live, I’m concerned my daughter might not have a great big backyard to play in as I did growing up.

…my job. I’m the one bringing in the paycheck. I’d very much like my job to remain stable and there’s no reason to expect it wont. Still, not only does it provide an income but the 401k and medical benefits that help protect me, my wife and my daughter should, god forbid, anything happen to any of us.

…my parents. They’re getting older and I wonder what will happen when their health starts to fail.

…war. We shouldn’t be there but we are. There’s no changing that now. All we can do is finish it, take soldiers out of harm’s way and avert the deaths of innocent civilians. Do we know how to do that?

…poverty. We live in one of the single richest countries in the world yet we condemn poverty-stricken children to hunger-filled days and nights while people in income brackets higher than mine fill their Hummers full of over-priced gas and live in mansions that could easily house entire third-world villages.

…education. I think I read that, overall, we rank 17th in a list of industrialized countries when it comes to the effectiveness of our educational system. How is this acceptable?

…my rights. By virtue of being a citizen of this country, I was afforded certain rights which are being gradually eroded by an overzealous government under the guise of security and threats of terrorism. I refuse to be one of the masses who rolls over and utters, “well, if it helps prevent terrorism…” I want my rights. Hell, I demand them – the freedom to do, within reason, what I know to be right, the opportunity to follow my beliefs, express myself and challenge the ideas I believe to be wrong.

Nowhere in this list of concerns with which I wrestle not monthly or weekly but daily, did I mention gay marriage. Please don't try to wave something shiny in front of me in an attempt to distract me from the issues at hand. That might work on my 10 month old daughter but it won't work on me.

In a world in which so many people have so many concerns and are dealing with such great stressors in such difficult times, why would anyone want to discourage love?

Respectfully,
Chris

Posted by Chris at June 7, 2006 07:32 AM
Comments

Gawd, you've hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

Posted by: amber at June 7, 2006 07:46 AM

That was well put. I agreed with every word and that is a little unusual for us. This should stand as a reminder that when it all comes down to it, we generally worry about the same things.

Posted by: goodsnake at June 7, 2006 07:49 AM

Dude, like maybe we could worry about the fact that we have the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world instead? Just if you needed anot

Posted by: Mrs. Cactus at June 7, 2006 07:58 AM

Hmm, despite our political differences, I quite agree with your letter.

Posted by: A.K. at June 7, 2006 08:09 AM

Let's sign it and send it.

Posted by: Jen at June 7, 2006 08:15 AM

I agree with Jen. Well said Chris.

Posted by: Lauren at June 7, 2006 08:16 AM

I completely agree. There are so many more important things that the government needs to address other than taking away rights from families, however they may be composed.

Posted by: Jessie at June 7, 2006 08:24 AM

Silly man! The president doesn't know how to read (certainly not most of the big words you used), and Dick Cheney certainly isn't going to read THIS letter to him!

Try to sit tight for a couple more year and hope we all survive. This administration isn't going to change course.

Posted by: Kaz at June 7, 2006 08:25 AM

Hear, hear.
(sure, I'm Canadian, but I find that most of your concerns are human ones, not strictly American).

Posted by: martin at June 7, 2006 08:28 AM

bravo!

Posted by: Betti at June 7, 2006 08:30 AM

You and I have very different political views (from what I gather from reading your blog) this letter is very well written and speaks from what I call Missed Middle America. However I also think that it should be sent not only to the President but to every Senator and Congressman, and Justice, who make up the all the Powers of this country.
I know that Bush is at fault and is the point man for most of the blame in this country but I also know that as long as he is the target of criticism that the senators and congressman (both republican and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal) have a free pass to pass the blame along. Even though they are all involved in the exact same political machinations that you address in this letter.

Posted by: Bill at June 7, 2006 08:32 AM

*applause!!*

hell yeah!
(sorry. that's the most eloquent thing I could come up with. haha)

Posted by: Manda at June 7, 2006 08:34 AM

well said...

Posted by: Corinne at June 7, 2006 08:35 AM

de-lurking here to say i agree with everything in this post. i hardly ever watch the news anymore because of all the junk and the fact that we, as a nation, can't focus on the things that actually matter.

you're one of my early reads every day and just wanted to say thanks for the great posts!

Posted by: Laurie at June 7, 2006 08:35 AM

Well said!

Posted by: mingaling at June 7, 2006 08:42 AM

A-freakin'-men, Chris.

Posted by: erika at June 7, 2006 08:43 AM

Ugh - I spouted off about this just yesterday. I don't understand his whole rationale that gay marriage undermines the family and all that. How do two loving, committed people who happen to be the same sex do more damage than a drug addict who beats his wife? It's ok for him to get married, but not the nice people who happen to be gay? Doesn't make sense to me.
Then again, I don't think Bush makes sense any time he opens his mouth.
How did he get elected twice???

Posted by: Traci at June 7, 2006 08:43 AM

Well said!

Posted by: Robin at June 7, 2006 08:47 AM

Word.

Posted by: Ms. Q at June 7, 2006 09:11 AM

Damnit. I hate it when I can't disagree with you.

Posted by: fauve at June 7, 2006 09:28 AM

From CNN.com, regarding the same-sex marriage ban vote: "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one," said Republican Sen. David Vitter.

Can you be sure and send him a copy of this letter too? Maybe then he'll see there are a hell of a lot more important things going on.

Posted by: Beth in StL at June 7, 2006 09:29 AM

I'm also de-lurking to say well said!

Posted by: Colleen at June 7, 2006 09:34 AM

Oh, by the way, you can contact your senators and tell them to vote no on the Federal Marriage Amendment via email using this link:

http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/fma_postcards

Posted by: Beth in StL at June 7, 2006 09:35 AM

Very well said.

Posted by: Alison at June 7, 2006 09:48 AM

Amen! That post gets a standing "O"!

Posted by: Lisa at June 7, 2006 09:56 AM

I think fundamentalist Christians believe that the ability to "be right" about an issue increases in direct proportion to how successful they are in manufacturing an enemy (real or imagined) that threatens their "rightness". Are there terrorists out there who don't value human life? Sure, but now terrorists are the reason we're made to fear everything. Embracing Science threatens the way Christians successfuly teach Creationism in the church (or so they believe) so the former must be stopped. Marriage...already limping along in this country...is now threatened by same sex unions. Of course, you and I know that this is just bullshit, but the fundamentalists NEED to believe this. I shake my head (and my fists) at the tiny minds that lead this country into a dark hole of hatred and ignorance.

Posted by: wordgirl at June 7, 2006 10:18 AM

Well said, Chris.

Bill, hopefully this November, the electorate will send a clear message to the senators and congresspeople, and the President by voting against the incumbent congress-critters and sending the bums home.

Those guys need to experience a bit of shock and awe themselves, methinks.

Posted by: Allan at June 7, 2006 10:22 AM

Amen brother. I fail to understand why gay marriage is so threatening to Bush and others. If they're not gay why is it any of their business? Please do mail this letter off to Bush and our various reps in office. Could you circulate this online so that others could sign it as well?

Posted by: Nic at June 7, 2006 10:29 AM

It angers me to no end that this is an issue raised for a friggin CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. I get so pissed when I hear of gay couples that want to adopt kids out of our tragic foster care system, and they are forbidden to do so because of their relationship. MORONS.

Posted by: Nicole at June 7, 2006 10:43 AM

Distraction doesn't work on you, hmmm? Well I guess I'll just have to admit that you... LOOK! Over there - Flag Burning! Ohhhhhhh, flag burning, flag burning, flag burning! It could happen on every street corner, right here in the US of A. It's not, but it could - we better ammend the Constitution just in case.

(Just getting you ready for the next made-up crisis)

Posted by: Mark at June 7, 2006 10:53 AM

Rude Cactus for President!

Posted by: Northern_Girl at June 7, 2006 10:54 AM

I agree with many of your points.
But... marriage = love? No siree.
Is marriage mandatory for the love thing to work out?
That argument didn't fly.

Posted by: wondering at June 7, 2006 11:18 AM

Right on!!!

Posted by: ::c:: at June 7, 2006 11:31 AM

As always, well said.

And as a woman who's been through the bad end of marriage, I think everyone should have equal rights to divorce. :)

Posted by: Autumn at June 7, 2006 11:46 AM

Every news story about the gay marriage amendment seems to include some form of the phrase, "even supporters have no expectation of success."

So WHY are we all wasting our time!?

Awesome letter. On a more trivial note, would you consider adding a post script requesting that the President hire a better speech writer already?

Posted by: Julie at June 7, 2006 11:56 AM

Excellent post, Chris. You always manage to express these things so eloquently.

Got to get back on my soapbox for a minute, as that comment from wondering is sitting there as I'm typing this. No, marriage doesn't = love. Marriage = a convenient, state sanctioned, way for people to share in secular benefits such as insurance and the joint custody of children. Love is up to the people involved.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at June 7, 2006 12:00 PM

Bush is such an idiot. Then he wonders why so many nations don't want to come out aid. Christ, Bono is making better progression than we are with his contributions to this world. It's sad if you ask me. It makes me ashamed sometimes to be called an American. There are so many out there (in other countries) that laugh in our faces. I just hope they know it's not everyone's fault that Bush got elected President!! I voted for Kerry!!

Posted by: Michelle at June 7, 2006 12:04 PM

very well said Chris. I'd sign it in a heartbeat if I thought the president would care what this uberliberal canadian thought...

Posted by: suze at June 7, 2006 12:14 PM

"Please don't try to wave something shiny in front of me in an attempt to distract me from the issues at hand. That might work on my 10 month old daughter but it won't work on me.

In a world in which so many people have so many concerns and are dealing with such great stressors in such difficult times, why would anyone want to discourage love?"

Amen, Chris. A-men.

I'd add to that, but it's perfect, so I won't.

Posted by: Alice at June 7, 2006 12:16 PM

Amen, brother.

Hurrah for the Senate, shutting that shit down.

Posted by: Vaguely Urban at June 7, 2006 12:19 PM

An Open Form Letter From President Bush to Chris:

"Dear Concerned Citizen,

Let me just say this - 9/11, Saddam Hussein, learn English, 9/11, freedom, weapons of mass destruction, terror, gays, Christian values, 9/11, freedom, Iraqi people, terror, freedom, 9/11. Oh, and one more thing - 9/11.

Freedom,
George W. Bush"

Posted by: Jason at June 7, 2006 12:36 PM

Hip-Hip Hooray! You got it RIGHT ON! Thanks for putting into words EXACTLY how I feel!!

Posted by: Celina at June 7, 2006 12:45 PM

Have I told YOU lately that you rock? YOU rock, my friend. \m/

Posted by: Rhonda at June 7, 2006 12:56 PM

It won't pass the Senate (2/3's) and I need to check the news right now. I have CSPAN on but they're talking about the Estate Tax. Another giveaway for the rich by overtaxing the working poor and middle class. FMA was rejected 49/48 so not only didn't it get 2/3, it didn't even get 50%. He lost some Republicans for that to happen because Ben Nelson (D) NE was going to vote for it and his (R) counterpart Hagel against. I think we picked up five Republicans somewhere and I can guess who they are.

Did you send it? I'd love to post it (without using your name). I've been writing about FMA on isamericaburning forever.

Bush wants two things with this monstrosity, the flag burning amendment, and English as an official language.

He distracts Congress from the important issues as you said.

He appeals to the only supporters he has left; the extreme religious right. Ie doesn't mind losing as he will on this one because he had his photo op.

CA primary yesterday. Only 24% of the registered voters of Merced County bothered to show up and this is turning into a rant.

Sorry.

Posted by: ann adams at June 7, 2006 01:03 PM

You are so very right. Why are we wasting time on this when there are so many real problems facing our country?

And why do people find the notion of gay marriage so threatening? It doesn't make straight marriage any less valid. If anything, gay people clamoring for the right to get married underscores how seriously they take marriage.

Posted by: bad penguin at June 7, 2006 01:21 PM

Very well put; I could not have said it better myself. I agree that this needs to be sent to every Congressperson as well as the President.

Posted by: erika at June 7, 2006 01:48 PM

Seriously Chris - I agree with every single thing you wrote. I'd really like to send a copy to my Representative and Senator...

Posted by: Sue at June 7, 2006 01:53 PM

"Nowhere in this list of concerns with which I wrestle not monthly or weekly but daily, did I mention gay marriage. Please don't try to wave something shiny in front of me in an attempt to distract me from the issues at hand. That might work on my 10 month old daughter but it won't work on me."

The best part and never more true.

Posted by: chantel at June 7, 2006 01:55 PM

First, I personally believe those who don't vote, do not have the right to complain. (that's not saying you didn't vote Chris, just saying it like I feel it.
Second, I am Canadian, and we Canucks have the same concerns and fears, despite having different governments. I am a mother to be. I fear how my child will grow up, and the same sex debate is the LEAST of my concerns.
And Third, My military friend was recently in Afganistan and lost his legs in the name of freedom and making sure every human being is given the right to school, security and just human rights, period. This injury has not wavered his or my belief in everyone's rights at home or overseas. How can any government take away rights and freedoms in the name of "Fighting Terrorism" when even thier soldiers believe so passionately in preserving them?
I just don't get it.

Posted by: Lin at June 7, 2006 02:51 PM

Well said! I'm applauding you right now. I'm even giving you a standing ovation right here in my cube. My coworkers are wondering what the hell I'm doing, but your letter deserves every ounce of praise I can give it. Thank you.

Posted by: Noelle at June 7, 2006 02:52 PM

This is why I keep coming back here.

Posted by: Anne at June 7, 2006 03:04 PM

That was amazing. Good work Chris. Now, please send it to him. Really, someone needs to see that.

Posted by: Melissa at June 7, 2006 03:15 PM

Why do you hate America?

Obviously a letter like this, only serves to comfort the terrorists.

I mean you must be out of your mind. After all more service level jobs have been created now than in any time in history (just ignore the fact that they are low paying jobs like waiters and waitresses in an Applebee's).

The average income of American's is WAY UP (when you average the $7.25 an hour the pump attendant makes and average the $440 million dollar package the CEO of the same oil company makes).

Medicare Part D solves all your parents problems (they can just reverse mortgage the "Donut hole" in the plan... screw leaving any inheritance).

Oh, and we are working to repeal the Estate Tax, so should anything be left, you can be sure we won't tax it (not that we would before, but hey, we need to make sure the rich people don't get hit with it either).

War. You want jobs? We gotta have war so that Halliburton can hire the people that don't want to work at Applebee's.

"Your Rights." Again, you sneaky American Hater. Your Rights are not being eroded. We are just expanding the role of the administrative branch to ensure there are no terrorists... or any real information being provided to reporters about the back room deals we make...or for fixing elections (like NH)... but other than that, I don't know what you are talking about by eroding your rights.

We must ensure that our country continues to prosper. And the only way to make it prosper is to ensure that the Republican Party remains in power after the mid-term election (after all how can the President rule if he is busy being impeached and indicted for alleged illegal acts), and the only way to ensure that we can make sure that the GOP remains in power is to pander to the psycho leaders of the evangelicals (which has the added bonus of bringing in campaign funds from insurance companies since they won't have to pay off on policies for "those people").

* in case it wasn't clear enough I was being cynical, I will just say that here. Oh, and nicely said Chris.

Posted by: Latte Man at June 7, 2006 03:59 PM

Very well put.

Posted by: Liz at June 7, 2006 04:04 PM

What can I say that you haven't already? Once again, very intelligent, meaningful words emit from your place here. It's why I keep coming back. Well, that, and all those adorable Mia pictures ;)

Posted by: Kate at June 7, 2006 04:14 PM

Chris,

I live in NYC where you can see gay couples everywhere.
I am friends with many people who are great fathers/mothers to many birth and adopted children. These people work hard at making their families happy. They were hard to contribute to society. Many of them work in the non-profit sector. As you know passion is a very big part of doing non-profit in a expensive city like NYC. Yet, people dare to say "marriage should be between a man and a woman." I cannot help but hurt when I listen to these comments. I see nothing wrong with letting adults make their own decisions freely when it comes to such a big commitment. What makes other people decide that gay couples are not worthy of a marriage license or marriage certificate?
How is it that those who have been oppressed in the past, oppress so easily?

I cannot understand such oppression neither can I support a government that imposes such injustices. I am an immigrant, a woman of color, live in the Bronx, and I have a thick Dominican accent. These things make me stick out in any crowd. Why am I stating this? Well, because I cannot stand behind any oppression even if "it has nothing to do with me (many people actually have said this to me)." Any oppression, any rights taken away from others affect me in many ways. If I do not do anything about it, then I cannot complain when my rights are taken away. I refuse to stand and watch this abuse.
How do I contribute? I try to educate people in big issues such as AIDS, MEDICARE, Women’s treatment among many other things.

I do too worry about things daily. 1) Africa 2) Treatment of women all over the world. 3) AIDS (I work in the field) 4) Medicare and elderly rights 5) Gay rights 6) Job stability 7) Health care 7) the war 8) Citizenship (applying for that now)

Big one 9) Credit score.

Perhaps advocating and hoping are a big part on getting things better. What gets me through the day? Anna Frank’s believe that despite of everything people are good at heart. Well, one must to get through the day and of course one must read such a great blog.

Katherine, NYC

Posted by: Katherine at June 7, 2006 04:15 PM

Did you say something? I was too busy watching American Idol/ The Super Bowl/ Monday Night Raw/ Jerry Springer. Who has time for politics when there so much on TV?

Posted by: Lord Misanthropy at June 7, 2006 04:21 PM

Bravo. This is so well put - you really have a gift with words.

Posted by: Laura at June 7, 2006 04:26 PM

Once again, an excellent post. As Amber said, you hit the nail right on the head. You should mail that to him. Immediately.

Posted by: Michelle at June 7, 2006 04:32 PM

Look, just face it... He's the decider. WHat he decides goes... right down the crapper with the country...

Very well said, and I couldn't agree more...

Posted by: Karen at June 7, 2006 04:32 PM

You and I are on the same wavelength, I have a post about gay marriage in my draft box, but with the kids home and my hubby working from home, I get about 5 minutes a day on the computer. Gotta get that post up before we elect a new president.

Loved the thing about "something shiny". Cracked me up!

Shash

Posted by: Shash at June 7, 2006 05:22 PM

Mail it. Please.

Posted by: Heather at June 7, 2006 06:38 PM

A few months ago it was bird flu, last month was illegals, this month is gay marriage - any guesses on next month's distraction?

Posted by: wendy at June 7, 2006 07:03 PM

Chris
Would you give up that big yard you want for the poor folk?

Posted by: newhere at June 7, 2006 07:06 PM

Awesome letter Chris. I agree with MOST of it and you know i'm a coservative. I respect how respectful it was. I know this probably sounds way dorky but you are obviously a classy guy with an uber sweet sout. I totally feel like your grandma now:)

Posted by: Bethany at June 7, 2006 07:57 PM

Next month's distraction will be a focus on the proper way of wiping one's arse...goodness knows someone needs to save me from myself and mandate my personal hygiene as well.

Posted by: kristen at June 7, 2006 09:13 PM

Couldn't agree less with you. Muslim terrorists must be hunted down and killed. I don't want them sawing off my head, or the heads of my loved ones. And I won't have the President of the United States beg for our lives, either.

Posted by: Cappy at June 7, 2006 09:31 PM

Beautifully written, Chris!

Posted by: Steph at June 7, 2006 09:48 PM

HELL YEAH.

Posted by: Zandria at June 7, 2006 11:34 PM

Thank you. Just thank you. :)

Posted by: Lachlan at June 7, 2006 11:51 PM

An open letter to Mr. Cactus

I applaud the intent. You're vital organs are in the right place but the letter's tone was equivalent to bringing a knife to a gun fight. Take off the gloves, we know you have it in you. Muster the intensity brought out by your WT neighbors or the ladies at the pool. That's what this country needs more of. A lot of poeple seem to be happy with back patting, self-aggrandizing piousness uncomfortable with more kickin' ass and takin' names (unless you're a Republican). Diplomacy will never work as long as people like Delay, Frist and Ralph Reed are allowed to continue setting "their" agenda for this country. They truly believe it's God's will they rule and there ain't no reasoning with that sort of logic. Isn't this a given to all fundamentalist doctrines? It's a sad day when people like John Murtha and Alberto Mora are given awards of courage for doing their fricken jobs. Most Centrists like me are fed up with both of the current parties. To quote Bill Hicks, "I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. 'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.' 'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!'"

There seems to be this pollyannaish sense of change coming once mid-terms roll around. Based on what I see (and I don't think I'm alone) nothing's going to change. The system is flawed and as long as we allow ourselves to take it up the arse, then we'll continue to be governed no better than we deserve.

And then he went to bed...

P.S. Don't no one tell me the system we have isn't perfect but it's the best one out there... or suggest I leave it if I don't love it. I do love it and I'm going to fight to make it better and I'm going to drag as many as I can kicking and screaming if I have to.

P.S.S. Good work

Posted by: Johnny Smoke at June 8, 2006 03:34 AM

I think that everyone in my state (Oklahoma) was distracted by "something shiny" during the last presidential election. In fact I think they are all still looking at that something! And yet, they are disguised as adults...hmmmm...something to ponder...

Posted by: Kelly at June 8, 2006 12:36 PM

Obviously this is a president that would rather foster hate, greed, and fear, as opposed to love. Well, he won't be getting any love in return from me! Well said, Chris.

Posted by: duane at June 8, 2006 01:26 PM

Chris, great letter. If only our president had an IQ large enough to allow him to read, analyze, and comprehend the message, we might have some hope. And Kelly, we are from Oklahoma too...and I've come to the conclusion that the majority of the population here REMAINS enthralled with shiny objects - it never ends.

Posted by: Kristen at June 8, 2006 09:37 PM

Chris, I love you. And not in a "Beth should be jealous and immediately come whip my ass" way, but in a way that you always know how to express what I'm thinking before I even know I'm thinking it. :) May we all get through this madness together.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 8, 2006 10:04 PM