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An Open Letter to The Nation's Open Letter to Barack Obama

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Dear The Nation:

First off, let me take the chance to congratulate you on your constant struggle to bring to light progressive issues and ideas rarely touched upon in the mainstream media. Thank you for your honest coverage on the Iraq war, for uncovering the Double Life of James Baker, and for hanging Ken Starr out to dry.

Which is why I must admit a surge of frustration came over me yesterday when your "Open Letter to Barack Obama" appeared in my in-box. I have to admit -- I'm a game theory kinda gal. I mean this in the sense that I've long morphed past idealism and somewhat solemnly adhered to the principle that, for the time being anyway, we can't hope for change on a grand scale without first rolling out a comfortable carpet for the baby steps. So when I say I'm a game theory gal, I am simply trying to explain why, for the last few elections where my preferential candidate may not have been in a major party or worn a shiny blue tie, I chose to support the person on my team most likely to get the gold (or the white, house that is). Shakespeare wrote in King Lear: striving to be better, oft we mar what's well. It's the idea of "well" that's been enough for me to support in the political spectrum. "Well" may very well be Barack Obama. So while we should (eventually) strive for perfection, in this case marring what's well may not lead us to better -- it could lead us to McCain.

Which is why, dear Nation, I was initially concerned with your attempt to put Obama on the stand, before he has even had the chance to be elected. I understand -- and agree -- with your position that Obama needs to beware of the centrist drift (a magnetic pull that Al Gore and John Kerry before him had been unable to shake). But it's not only the centrist turn that procured us eight years of George W. Bush -- it's the lack of cohesion among the Democratic party, or, rather, liberals as a whole. It's the splintering within the kingdom and refusal to unite behind one core person that can lead us again to a be a country controlled by War Mongers and oil enthusiasts who can just as easily drill a hole or drop a bomb as they do pour a morning cup of coffee.

It's my fear of the worst outcome (McCain) and penchant towards the path of least resistance for the Democrats that first made me hesitant to add my name to your letter. You say that compromise is necessary in any democracy -- a fundamental point. However, compromise is not just necessary on behalf of the candidate: it is, to some degree, necessary on behalf of the voter.

But then I thought on it, and I realized that compromise cannot be equated with caution and (lack of) cojones. We must demand that Obama adhere to his campaign promises, especially where a sensible withdrawal from Iraq, universal healthcare and enterprising and effective environmental policies are concerned. Stand behind what you believe, Senator, and don't worry about pandering to the idiots (even though one may now run the country). I do think we must challenge Obama to stay on track, but I also know we must allow a degree of support no matter what. Quid pro quo, we'll all be rewarded.

So, Nation, I will be signing your letter. But only with the caveat that this sense of banding together for a cause we can believe in, for change we can believe in, must be maintained by our entire party. As much as Obama cannot and should not abandon his goals, neither can we. We want change we can believe in, but we also want change that can happen. As much as Obama cannot and must not get to a point of compromise, we must not get to a point of idealism that is disruptive to our goals. Obama cannot abandon his promises, and we cannot abandon him. Because in the quest for political perfection, while looking for "better," we, like King Lear, also have the ability to go blind.

To sign The Nation's letter, click here.