Dear Mr. President,
I have written you 260 letters this year. Of those 260, the top two subjects I've tagged are "Hope and change" and "values." These are more for my own reference than anything else. "Hope and change" refers to a letter that addresses something I feel you promised during the campaign. "Values" is usually to indicate a letter about our national or societal priorities. I chose "values" because it's a term often co-opted by the right (and, I'm sure, used by your own staff in the context conservatives use it.) So-called values voters, by the conservative Christian definition, oppose gay marriage, abortion and stem-cell research. The website for the Values Voters Summit lists the agenda as "Protect Marriage • Champion Life • Strengthen the Military • Limit Government • Control Spending • Defend Our Freedoms". I've always been irritated at the idea that voters sharing these particular values are the only ones conventionally identified as values voters- as though all of us are not voting based on our own personal values.
What does it say about what we value that preventing two people in love from marrying or putting the lives and well-being of women at risk is a demonstration of having "values"? Especially considering the 2010 census data, which shows a record number of Americans, 43.6 million or one in seven are living in poverty? When one in five children live in poverty, and one in four African Americans or Latinos? Where are the Christian values in letting twenty percent of American children grow up impoverished? While I do think the main source of this problem comes from corporate greed and corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle, we as voters must also be held accountable for this. Voters who don't inform and educate themselves before voting. Voters who allow trivial issues of appearance, personality or campaign smears to sway their vote without an appreciation for issues. Especially voters who do not vote at all.
Once, however, we have voted, once we have elected a party to control Congress and the White House, the responsibility falls to you to come through with all the Hope and Change promised to this country during the campaign. Mr. President, for all the right might howl and scream and lie through their teeth on FOX news, Democrats have cowered, backed down, abandoned the values that ought to define our party and set it apart from the greed, xenophobia and selfishness of our opponents. A livable minimum wage, a strong national education system, and access to affordable health care - these are values that Democrats ostensibly stand for, values I support, values I was promised would be defended when I cast my ballot in 2008. If these values were being fought for just as hard as the right is fighting to undermine them than 1 in 7 Americans would not be living in poverty. Your job isn't easy, and it isn't close to finished. This election is going to be ugly and difficult and the next one is probably going to be worse. I do not feel sorry for you. One in seven of us is living in poverty, Mr. President and while every single one of you elected to represent us is living in fear of election day, the situation is just getting worse. I think it is time that you asked every elected Democrat what they really value more- their office or their conscience.