Dear Mr. President,
We on the left aren't usually content to be outdone by Glenn Beck, especially now that he fancies himself a Televangelist. So progressives are having their own march on Washington. I hope that the One Nation march manages to generate the excitement many progressives will need to show up on election day. It isn't an enthusiastic or well-organized Republican base that worries me, it is the return to apathy that many on the left had been quick to make once holding your administration to its promises got hard. Will a unity rally in DC make it all better? I suppose it probably can't make things worse.
But an election shouldn't have to have the hype of a music festival to get people to turn up for it. Voting should be something every American does out of a sense of their own responsibility to participate in our democracy. I suppose this is why I get so irritated at the patronizing OFA e-mails asking me to pledge that I will vote. I vote because it is in my interest to do so and I don't need a flashy patronizing campaign to convince me to do it. I have many friends who feel differently. Several didn't vote in 2008 and, when I reacted to this information with my characteristic tactlessness, they grew quite defensive. One even tried to convince me that voting was playing into the hands of those in power. I guess OFA might have their work cut out for them.
I think if you want to turn people out on election day you've got to prove to them that their vote actually matters. No amount of youtube videos or t-shirts or clever campaign slogans will energize voters like evidence that they are actually being listend to would. Have one honest and unscripted conversation with the American people and watch how quickly they show up to tell you what they think of it. Talk to us like we're informed adults and maybe we'll start voting like it.
Tonight on CNN I saw a headline that stopped my heart for a moment. "Peace Corps Volunteer killed in Africa" it read. And for the eternity it took the full story to load and inform me the tragedy took place in Lesotho and not where my best friend is serving, I could do nothing but worry. Once it was cleared up, I got angry. Would you see a similar headline for Asia or Europe or North America? No! Had the victim died on any other continent, the headline likely would have specified a country. This may be due to the fact that CNN assumes its audience has no idea where Lesotho is. Whenever I see the media, or a campaign, dumbing things down to a level it anticipates its readers to be more comfortable with, I feel offended. Expect us to know where Lesotho is, and we will learn. Expect us to understand the complexity of your policies and we will. Expect us to vote because it is our responsibility as Americans and we will vote. Stop treating Americans like we are only as good as our worst tendencies.
I hope that the One Nation rally is a success. I hope that the midterms are somewhat less of a tragedy than expected. Most of all, I hope you find a way to speak to the American people the way you used to. It's the only way you'll ever inspire the kind of support you'll need to win re-election.