Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dear President Elect Obama ...

Congratulations! I am sure you have heard this word over a million times in the past 3 weeks but your victory is so significant that one cannot help but start a conversation with this. It indeed was a historic moment in ways more than one. However, it is sad that even after 8 years in this country (and as surprising as it may seem … legally) I had absolutely no way of taking part in the debate, discussion or the decision making. So, I thought the only way to communicate with you and share my thoughts would be through this open letter.

As your team comes out of the euphoria … as the excitement dies down … as everyone starts getting back to their usual political life and ways … the real challenge starts. Your website has listed several issues most notably economy, healthcare, war in Iraq and global leadership that will serve as the primary focus of your presidency. Sadly, issues will remain issues unless a majority of Americans, irrespective of their identities, can agree on the basic fundamentals. It was Vice-President Cheney who once said that one needs the support of only 51% of the people to become a leader. The reason you could win in spite of the South or the conservatives or disgruntled HIllary Clinton supporters was because you inspired a large chunk of predominantly young liberal crowd who were, up until now, disenfranchised largely by the political process of this country rather than the dogmatic positions that the conservatives adopt. Just like your predecessors, you were compelled to win through majority and not consensus. I may sound unreasonable, but this looks to me precisely the old Washington ways that you have sworn to bring down. Throughout your campaign I heard you boldly say time and again that there are no red states or blue states … there is the United States of America. This may have been a source of great electoral inspiration but campaigning is over and now would be the right time to make the candid admission (even if it is to yourself) that, in fact, your assertion about the unity of this country is quite the opposite. "United States of America" should be the final goal of your presidency and not its foundation or starting point. This country is as divided as a nation could possibly be. There is very much a Left and Right America, a Rich and Poor America, a White and Black America, a Native and Immigrant America … to say the least. Americans love to choose sides and adhere to opposing views ... to the point where this becomes a part of their identity, irrespective of the actual position and the ironies and inconsistencies that come with it. A notable example is the issue of ‘abortion’ … one of the most hotly debated topics in any election (unless it is stumped by the receding or failing economy). I am surprised how comfortably the American people and media continue to refer to these ideological positions as “pro-life” and “pro-choice”! People who claim to be pro-life would fight with you until hell freezes over using either logic or the Bible and argue strongly argue that human life begins at ‘conception’ (the concept of which, pun intended, still eludes my partly biological mind) and that it should be treated as such. They are not deterred by the hot sun or the wet weather or the snow and would stand for hours with a sign on Main Street voicing their vehement opposition to such practices and demanding a u-turn on Roe v. Wade. Tired and hungry after the exhaustive experience, they would then walk right next door into the local steakhouse … order a flat-iron or rib-eye and munch down with utmost satisfaction the sanctity of another life … with a pinch of salt and may be with a bit of Worcestershire sauce. On the other hand, the ‘pro-choice’ people who claim that it is the right of the child-bearing mother and her only to decide to terminate the life of her unborn child would stand under the umbrella of organizations such as PETA and argue how it is unethical to terminate the lives of laboratory animals, even it meant inching towards to finding a cure to the most horrific diseases that still plague humankind. According to them, the female is free to terminate a human life but the professor, who has devoted his life to finding a cure to cancer, would not be able to do so with his lab rats! Bringing people, who love to compete on almost anything and everything, together for one cause at this point looks like an insurmountable task. However, the choice is yours and yours only on whether you are going to be at the dead center (like Bill Clinton) … drive so close to the double-yellow lines that one would spend 8 years on the freeway on cruise control … never to take an exit either way and go somewhere. If you intend to be different, you may start by yelling at them “Hey … you guys!! The jury is still out there. So, so stop telling us what’s right and what’s wrong!!” It would be dandy, Mr. President Elect, if you were to then hold these juvenile squabblers by their ears and force them sit down and at least listen to one another and acknowledge the argument of the other side, even if they don’t agree on it. And while you are at it … would you please use your ‘executive powers’ to make them rename their positions as “pro-human life” and “pro-female choice”?

The Democratic Party has long touted itself to be a “party of inclusion” (it’s not surprising how it has seamlessly “included” of millions of illegal immigrants in my state of California and passed on the burden to the legal taxpayers, republicans and democrats alike). As a candidate of this party, your campaign soared to victory over the wings of hope and the wind of change. Considering the historic significance of this situation, I don’t think I would be out of the line to expect that come January 20th, when you raise your right hand to read your oath … your left hand will not be placed on the Bible. Just as you will still be the president of the millions of Republicans who did not vote for you … you will also be the president of the hundreds of thousands of Jews, Muslims, Hindus and dare I say, agnostics and atheists. Mr. President Elect, you will be their president too and using the Bible to bring on the wind of change or send across the message of inclusion just does not sit right. My suggestion? Use Plato’s Republic.


An Alien

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