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We've Got You Surrounded, Mr. President

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Dear Mr. President,

Thanks for having us over to your place for Sunday's big protest. You sure know how to throw a party! We had a great time surrounding the White House with 12,000 others in what was an unprecedented, historic event. We reminisced about 2008 and held our old signs with slogans of hope and change -- only this time it wasn't to get you elected, it was to ask you to do what you said you would do once you got elected.

We gathered peacefully and stood hand-in-hand encircling the White House to encourage you to say "no" to the Keystone XL pipeline. People came out in droves from New England, from the Gulf states, from the West Coast and anywhere in between to take a stand on an issue that has become a pivotal moment in your presidency. The party was rocking with all the climate celebs including Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org; Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation; Courtney Hight, the Executive Director of the Energy Action Coalition; Michael Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club; actor Mark Ruffalo, young and old alike, and a sea of college students in neon orange mesh vests. Now this is what democracy looks like!

We made it clear that you don't need to approve the pipeline to secure the support of the corporate lobbyists in order to win this reelection. By rejecting the pipeline, you'll gain the support of the Transport Worker's Union, the college students, the environmentalists, the Native Americans, and the respect of those who admire a leader with the integrity to stand up to the high school bully. You'll be gaining the support of the 77% of Americans who agree that our nation should be a leader in clean technology and invest in wind, solar, and energy efficiency.[1]

While the oil lobbyists are trying to reel you in with big-campaign-dollars they're also inflating the benefits of the pipeline. A recent article featured in the Washington Post, disclosed that the originally estimated 13,000 new construction jobs purported to be created by building the pipeline, would actually be closer to 6,500 -- or just about half the people that showed up at your place to protest.

The rally felt just like a campaign kick-off party (how timely!) except for the fact that there was a vocal group of naysayers claiming that if you approve Keystone they will withhold their support for you in the next election. So why take the risk? Find courage in knowing that 12,000 of your base were there, standing in solidarity with you. Or at least with you symbolically, since we heard you were getting in a quick 18 holes while we were ba-rockin it up on your front lawn.

It is a relief that you have taken a stand to assume ownership over this issue because you are exactly the man we voted into office to do so. As civil rights activist Dick Gregory mentioned in his closing remarks, in order to do the right thing on this issue you'll need to be like the turtle: hard on the outside, soft on the inside and not afraid to stick your neck out.

[1] according to the findings of a major survey of 1,049 Americans conducted October 21-24, 2011 by ORC International for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI)

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