Dear President Obama,
In the 2008 election, I supported you with the kind of enthusiasm I hadn’t felt since the first vote I cast for president in 1960 for John F. Kennedy. By the time you came to Maine prior to mid-term elections in 2010, I was spending a great deal of my new retirement time in rallies, marches, letters, and other grunt work for peace, for the Democratic Party, and especially for a national single-payer, universal health-care plan. When it looked like that wasn’t going to happen with the Affordable Health Care Bill, I shifted my activist attention to the public option.
I received an invitation to attend your appearance in Portland that year. I didn’t ask for it, wasn’t expecting it, and didn’t greet the prospect with much passion. It’s a long drive to Portland, but to support the Democratic Party and you, I accepted. It was a miserable experience. We got in a line of hundreds and waited, and waited, and waited while others streamed in ahead of us without any wait. There were some grumblings in the line about the color-coded tickets that allowed this to happen, but for the most part we waited patiently and courteously. When we did start to move, the line soon stopped leaving most of us unable to get in. The only explanation we ever got for what happened there was that the president arrived, and the doors had to be locked as soon as he entered the building. No one ever explained before or after about the color coding of tickets or that many of us were invited without any possibility of getting in. No one ever apologized. No one ever confirmed or denied the suspicion that many, if not most, of the people streaming in ahead of the ones who waited were major campaign contributors.
Since that happened, the public option was abandoned; we are still at war; I, a retired teacher, along with all other retired public employees in Maine have seen devastating cuts in human services and our pensions permanently eroded by a COLA freeze while the richest 1% are given ever-increasing tax breaks; the Supreme Court decision that corporations are people and money is speech continues to do its dirty work with our electoral process, and you reap political benefits of that decision.
I hope you can understand why I believe that the people who have any significant access or influence to our leadership, whether Republican or Democratic, are the 1% with greed for profit as their only interest. I hope you can understand why I am protesting your current appearance in Maine where you openly court the 1% and where the Democratic Party that I have been loyal to all of my adult life openly enables and celebrates that courtship. While I will likely vote for you in November—I certainly won’t vote Republican—I hope you can understand why I will be turning my major attention away from the current political system that has become so morally bankrupt and so dependent on Corporate greed and toward the Occupy movement that is the only hope I can see on the horizon. I write this not because I expect you to listen to one lone voice, but because I hope you will understand that there are millions of us—and our numbers are growing—who are looking and working for justice and sustainable alternatives for all the people.