Mr. President, last night you admitted to being forced by the Republicans to accept another two years of the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy even though you know those tax cuts aren't fair morally and aren't sound economically. All this so you could get 13 months worth of unemployment insurance for those who still can't find a job (because there are no jobs to be found) and to continue the tax cuts for everyone in America who isn't wealthy and supposedly really needs them.
Mr. President, you were blackmailed. You were blackmailed by a party that is holding hostage the economic well-being of every American who needs help to get through what is still a brutal, deeply felt economic crisis.
America Held Hostage
Do you remember the "America held hostage" visuals that were displayed on the ABC News show that started in 1979 (and which became Nighline)? Back then, the phrase referred to the Americans being held hostage by the Iranian revolutionaries in Tehran.
Well, we might as well start seeing similar graphics on the nightly news now. Because -- more than 30 years later -- America is being held hostage again. Except this time the numbers of Americans whose well-being is at risk are in the millions. And the hostage-takers are home grown.
From their own mouths and written documents, we know that the Republicans' primary objective is to make you a one-term president, Mr. President. In fact, we know that this was their declared policy eleven days before you were inaugurated in January of 2009!
This declared intention -- since borne out by their actions to oppose even those policies they used to favor just because you are now proposing them -- is a violation of their Constitutional responsibility to help govern the nation.
Here's how the Founding Fathers intended America to function: There were to be campaigns to elect representatives of "we the people", and -- once those campaigns were over -- those representatives were supposed to govern the country. Simple as that.
The Founding Fathers did not intend for elected representatives to plot to limit the ability to govern of those officials who had won elections! Imagine what Thomas Jefferson or George Washington would have said had they seen the Republicans -- eleven days before the inauguration of the President of the United States -- declaring that if the purpose of the majority is to govern then the purpose of the minority is "to become the majority"!
Jefferson and Washington might have charged those Republicans with committing an act of treason. Or at a minimum, they would have accused them of violating their Constitutional oaths of office!
America Doesn't Negotiate With Hostage-Takers
Mr. President, it has been long-standing American policy not to negotiate with hostage-takers. The obvious reason is that if you give in to their demands, you show them that their tactics work. And that guarantees that they will try those or other criminal tactics in the future.
Yet, you violated that policy in allowing the Republicans to win. You violated that policy by giving in to their demands.
Why did you do that?
Well, here's why I think you did. Please let me know if I'm right.
"This Campaign Has Never Been About Me. It's Always Been About You."
You said this the night you accepted the Democratic Party's nomination (and probably said it many other times during your campaign: "This campaign has never been about me. It's always been about you."
Well, Mr. President, in confronting these blackmailers, you appear to have forgotten those words. You forgot you weren't all alone.
I heard you say last night that you did what you had to do because the "working families" in America wouldn't be able to survive the extra $3000 in taxes they would have to pay in 2011 compared to 2010. You said that our economic recovery would be put at risk, all over the grand sum of $3000 per year per family on average. That comes to $250 per month.
What about our spiritual recovery, Mr. President? What about how we feel about being Americans in a country where the very wealthy constantly get their way... even after we bailed a lot of them out?
Mr. President, a great many of us know that we are up against forces that have millions and millions of dollars they can spend to get what they want here in America. We know that The Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for the unregulated spending of money to influence elections. We know that these well-financed efforts are designed to benefit that top two percent the Republicans forced you to protect from having their taxes raised.
Yet, what you told us last night is that you couldn't imagine the average American family getting by on $3000 a year less than it currently has.
Mr. President, if you had asked the American people (instead of deciding this question for us), I think you would have found almost unanimous agreement that it was worth spending $3000 over the 12 months of 2011 - $250 per month - to break the backs of those who were trying to blackmail you... those who were holding our future - as well as yours - hostage.
But you never asked us, Mr. President. Why? Why did you assume we are so weak that we couldn't tighten our belts for such a very, very good reason?
Why did you treat us like children rather than adults?
Why do you assume that we won't sacrifice, economically, to save our country from the forces from within that are seeking to tear our social fabric apart along with preventing you from serving a second term?
From Boxing To Having An Army
You are not a boxer in the ring, Mr. President. You have (or you used to have) an army of supporters who were willing to do practically anything for you. You know those was true during the election campaign. People gave money -- sometimes as little as ten dollars because that's all they could afford -- to your campaign, because they believed you would change how Washington works.
And after last month's mid-term elections, you even said that you recognized you had spent too much time over the last two years getting things done and not enough time changing how things gets done.
Yet here -- in the biggest crisis of values you have faced -- you acted as if you were all alone. You did things the same old way again. You fell into the trap of thinking that you're the president and have to "save us".
Instead of going to us and saying "We've gotta hang tough... pinch pennies... so we can refuse to give in to the demands of these hostage-takers", you acted as if we were children and you had to protect us from losing $3000.
Why, Mr. President? Why did you forget that this election was supposed to be "about us" not you?
But What About The Unemployed?
Yes, I know. You're going to say you did this for the unemployed too. You're going to say you did this because some people would wind up with no money coming in at all. And I'll admit, Mr. President. That's a tough one.
But that didn't have to stop you either. Not if you had come to us. Not if you had said this was all about Never Negotiating With Hostage-Takers. Not if you had said this was about the President of the United States refusing to let the American people be blackmailed!
Community Building That Brings America Together
Had you said that... and had you then assembled a committee of true patriots with community organizing backgrounds like yourself (and some with money, like George Soros, but also like the members of the little known but potentially very helpful corporate social responsibility movement)... you could have created some sort of nation-wide "take care of your out-of-work neighbor" initiative. Maybe you could have asked Jimmy Carter to help. He knows something about community building too.
You could have used this crisis to bring America together (well, at least the "bottom 98 percent") as it hasn't been since right after the 9/11 attack.
You could have brought us all together to face down this power-mad, anti-Constitutional group of so-called legislators and their "top two percent" backers. But you didn't.
But now that you've heard my plea, maybe you will.
I'm going to send this essay to you, Mr. President. That way you'll be sure to know that you're not all alone. Yours may sometimes be called the loneliest job in the world, but it doesn't have to be.
The Era Of Government As Mommy And Daddy Is Over?
President Bill Clinton once famously said "The era of big government is over". And then his policies led to the greatest period of economic growth American had seen in decades.
Treat us like adults, Mr. President -- who want you to defeat the forces allied against both you and us -- and you'll be surprised by how tough we can be. Let this be the time when you start to have a real partnership with all the people who you said your campaign was really about. Don't make this all about you... about you deciding what we can and cannot handle!
Stop thinking you have to be our mommy and daddy, Mr. President; and start thinking of us as your creative partners in getting America to work -- both spiritually and economically -- again.
It might require that some of us learn the same cooperative and partnership-oriented skills I'm talking about you tapping into, Mr. President. But we can do it together. If you'll ask us to work with you -- to share in the sacrifices required just like the American people did during WWII -- we can do it together!
Follow Steven G. Brant on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SteveBrant