Dear Mr. President,
I have been one of your most faithful supporters. It has not been easy; I live in the second most conservative city in the United States, according to the Bay Area Center for Voting Research. Every time I wear my tie-dyed "Peace. Love. Change" Obama t-shirt to the gym, I can feel the dirty looks drilling into my back.
I did not vote for you because of mass excitement or popular sentiment. I did not vote for you because I thought that my vote would count. I voted for you because you were the only candidate that I can remember who has inspired me to vote for someone, not just against someone else.
I've been pretty patient since you got elected. Not everything that you've done or left undone has met with my approval, but I never expected it to. If that's what I'd wanted, I'd have voted for Dennis Kuccinich in the primary and spent the next four years griping.
Afghanistan doesn't thrill me, but you told us you were keen on increasing our focus there, so it's not like I can say I'm surprised. My office mate is fond of taunting me by reminding me of your "troops out of Iraq in a year" quote, but I do think you'll eventually get us out, so I can live with that too.
Health care reform (or the lack thereof) has me seriously pissed off; the main targets of my health care reform anger are the Democrats in the Senate. You could have done a more forceful job advocating for real reform, but I'm still telling myself you're waiting until the conference committee bill comes out. Then you'll twist some arms. I hope.
What has me really dismayed is your handling of the big banks. I know that you have probably gotten bushels of mail on this topic, and that you and your advisors are likely putting negative public reaction down to lack of understanding. Fair enough - I don't know all that much about capital markets, derivatives, international currencies or bonds.
I do know when I'm getting a raw deal. The recent tax credit for Citigroup on top of everything else those amoral, short-sighted Wall Street goons have gotten from your administration goes a long way towards convincing me that hope and change is a chimera, a fantasy, a ghost.
I don't care if you have a truck load of Wall-Street-grown experts who tell you that giving this tax credit will boost stock prices and make everything look that much rosier. The Administration - your Administration - should not be using tax dodge smoke and mirrors to make everything look better. That's how we got into this mess in the first place - the big banks were making decisions based on what they could get away with, what would make their balance sheets look better and what would help hide those nearly worthless assets they had tucked away.
Your team's action to give Citi a $38 billion tax break is not a huge deal. What's $38 billion on top of everything else the banks have gotten? But my perception of the action is that your Adminstration really is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street. And I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one looking through jaundice-tinted glasses.
During your campaign, you had convinced me that we didn't have to live in a world ruled by the corporate elite. That instead, we could build a society with social justice as its foundation and lofty aspirations as its penthouse. That we could do that in a civil manner, without radicalism and with grace.
Now it seems that your adminsitration is going to devote itself to playing shell games with our tax money at the behest of obscenely large financial institutions, while at the same time advocating tepidly, at best, for social reforms like health insurance.
Mr. President, I am not angry. I am saddened and frightened. The shift in my perception of you and your adminsitration has taken from me much of my faith in our society and in the future that my six year old will face.
As much as I dislike your big-bank enabling, I dislike the bombast and hatred of Palin and Beck, Coburn and Wilson more. I still feel that you were my best choice in 2008, and will likely be my best choice in 2012. But I fear that the sticky ooze of lobbying, money and greed will continue to pull you in, as it has been doing, and that no fundamental change will occur in our nation during your watch.
At least we will not be laughing-stocks abroad, thanks to your eloquence and diplomatic adeptness. We probably will not wage new wars solely to fatten American corporations. Maybe our racial discourse will continue to improve.
But without the driving force of a different attitude towards money, power and business as usual, we will continue to expand the impoverished in our own homeland. Working people will continue to cope with salaries that don't pay enough to feed their families; they will continue to fear medical costs more than they fear sickness itself. Our people will become more divided and will focus even greater attention on red herrings thrown to them by the circus media.
Sometimes I wish you had not convinced me that our society doesn't have to be that way, that our best time as a people is not behind us. Sometimes, I wish I had stayed cynical, voting against McCain rather than for you.