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Get It While It's Hot, Mr. President

Posted: 10/18/11 10:51 AM ET

Dear Mr. President,

In our last letter we asked that you put the interests of your young fans over the interests of the corporations by saying "no" to the Keystone pipeline. Given that the streets are alive with the sound of protest -- it is safe to say you did not heed our call.

There's a movement afoot, and it's giving young people an inspiration and a passion that we haven't felt since... well, since we were campaigning for you. Our first rallying call to action was during the 2008 presidential campaign. Now, here we are three years later, fired up and idealistic as ever but you are nowhere to be found. You once captured our hearts by painting a vision of how things could be for our nation -- bringing an end to inequality and the corrupt pay-as-you-go campaign cycle, and beginning a journey towards a more just, peaceful and tolerant world.

That vision has faded. The occupy protestors are frustrated by a multitude of issues from the economy to the wars abroad, to the inequality and rampant corruption, to a series of ongoing environmental calamities. The one thing that unites these fractured complaints is the frightening realization that corporate interests have usurped our democracy -- the very democracy that built this great nation and made America who we are. We don't hate the corporation and we don't vilify capitalism. We disdain how much power corporations wield over our government and we're slowly awakening to what this really means for our democratic freedom. This awakening is powerful but it could push this generation to the brink of disillusionment, a dangerous place for the future of the country.

Our ability to make an impact as an individual is limited. To get our message across we can post on the White House website, we can protest, we can write letters to our congressmen and we're fortunate to have the right to vote. But at the end of the day, "we the people" remain non-factors in political decision-making. We are not ExxonMobil, we are not Goldman Sachs, we are not your fill in the blank conglomerate du jour.

The occupy protesters have an enemy. What they don't have yet is a hero. Everyone is desperate for leadership and Mr. President, your unwillingness or inability to play this role has not gone unnoticed. Your silence speaks volumes. It's time to tell us which team you are playing for. Are you in support of those who stand to lose, or are you propping up those who are sure to gain?

And yet the window of opportunity for you to join is wide open! Your presidency has not been easy and has mostly been defined by your restrictions. But we challenge you to take control over something you do have control over: we challenge you to take a bold stance on campaign finance and announce that your reelection will be decided not the corporations, but by the people. Show us that you're not going to play into the billion-dollar campaigns and the kabuki dances that come with it. Show us that your opponent in the race is the one dining with the millionaires while you are the same populist President we all rallied behind in '08. Show the country that you don't need the big dollars to get re-elected, what you need is the people.
A wise man once said, "change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." There is no other time but now. Take a page from the playbook of Arab Spring and the occupy rallies. Inspire us as individuals and we will post and tweet and share our support online. Watch as this percolates through traditional media and reaches every day conversations and ultimately carries to the voting booth.

Impress us by connecting the message of the 99% to that of your reelection, and the emotions currently surging through the streets at the occupy rallies will rise up from Wall Street and transition to an emphatic embrace of your reelection. Remind us, Mr. President, as the commander in chief, that the government of the people, by the people, for the people has not perished from the earth. Remind us that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, every vote matters and any voice -- not any amount of money -- can change the world. We've got your back Mr. President, show us that you've got ours.