Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25

Dear Mr. President,

I started reading The Audacity of Hope today. From the start, I've found your longing for a more productive style of politics inspiring, and recognized too much of myself and too many of my peers in your assertion that "a cynical electorate is a self-centered electorate." Our cynicism may not be without cause, but it is a false kind of wisdom, a false comfort in that it plays into the hands of the type of politicians we think it protects us from.

I think we'd really like to believe in America again, believe in it as a force of good, believe in it as an institution of and by and for us, the people. Do we fail the system by refusing to participate, or adequately educate ourselves? Or do politicians fail us by fattening themselves on the spoils of victory and sacrificing the better interests of the people for the better interests of their party? I don't know the answer. I don't know that we can walk things back, undo the divide. I don't know that I want to work with some one to improve health care, if they don't believe my gay friends have a right to marry the ones they love. I don't know if I want to win or to work together.

I want to believe that we can do both. That we can change minds, not just win elections. That every American can participate in the hard work of making our country stronger and healthier and wiser and more just. That we can understand the link between our values and our vote- that politics can be seen as open to every one and not just the wealthy and powerful. I want to believe that we can elect great leaders and have meaningful national discussions about real issues. I want to believe that each of us can change this country for the better.

I wonder if you are still as optimistic as the author of this book. Is it possible to work in Washington and not become just as cynical as the electorate?

I want to believe that it is.

Respectfully yours,


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