Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 11 November 2008 14:09
n open letter to Barack Obama:
First of all, congratulations. You have become an indelible part of our great nation’s history, a permanent reminder that anything is possible in America. You have risen out of humble roots in Kansas to become the most powerful elected official in the country. Celebrate while you can. The hard work is about to begin.
You have inherited a nation divided: between the rich and the poor, the old and the young, far right and the liberal left. Your first task will likely be to put the “united” back into the United States. Somehow you have to bridge the gaps that have formed. You must inspire confidence that the majority of voters made the right choice, that you can and will make a difference.
The economy is in shambles. The stock market and housing market have taken tumbles. Word of impending job layoffs dominate the local news. Gasoline prices may have fallen recently, but so have grain prices.
You campaigned as the candidate of change; you announced election night that “change has come.” It was a great speech. But rhetoric does not always translate into revenue. It now becomes your unenviable task to get our nation’s economy back on track. You will need to move cautiously, but please move quickly.
Just as ordinary citizens must be urged to save rather than spend our way out of the recession, our leaders need to cut back and end the mindset that has caused the deficit to bulge beyond comprehension. Who can fathom a national debt of $10 trillion?
Mr. President-elect, in Kansas alone there are 450,000 residents gambling each day that they will remain healthy and safe. They have no health insurance, you see, because they cannot afford it. You have spoken of overhauling the American health care system. It will be a monumental task. But, if nothing is changed, the cost will be the bankruptcy of millions of our country’s families. Please make national health care a priority.
You have suggested that the United States should withdraw its troops from Iraq. You are right. The cost of that fiasco is $10 billion per month. As you opined, that money would be better spent on hospitals, schools and other components of the U.S. infrastructure that have been left to crumble during the last eight years or so.
May I remind you and all my fellow citizens that the fall of the Soviet Union was caused largely by overzealous spending on and overextending of its military forces. And, let us not forget that it was Afghanistan that contributed greatly to the USSR’s demise.
I wholeheartedly support pulling out of Iraq, but I also urge you not to deepen our military’s involvement in Afghanistan. We have enough problems to deal with at home. Rather than continue to seek revenge for what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, let’s work with other nations to prevent its reoccurrence.
Though the troubles of a nation will rightly command most of your attention, do not forget your roots. Nearly 40 percent of Kansans “threw away” their votes in a traditional red state, knowing full well that the antiquated electoral college system would mean those ballots would not count for much.
But, those votes represent real people with real concerns and real needs. Our governor has proven her loyalty to your causes and to ours. As a member of your cabinet, she would make you, and many of us Kansans, proud.
In case all of this is not enough pressure, I am sorry to say you will have the added worry of trying to keep yourself and your family safe. Unfortunately, there are some misguided people in this country, our own emissaries of Satan, who operate under the mistaken notion that they would be doing themselves and their fellow citizens a favor by attacking a legally installed leader of the free world.
Ultimately, no amount of security can absolutely protect you and your loved ones from harm. Please remain ever vigilant.
I have faith, Mr. President-elect, that you will figure prominently in our nation’s history, not only as the first African-American to be elected to its highest office, but as one whose name will be placed alongside other great leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Kansans’ own Dwight D. Eisenhower.
It won’t be easy, but my hope and prayer is that, at the end of eight years, the people of our nation will be sorry that Barack Obama will no longer be eligible to remain in office. If you can accomplish this, the United States of America will emerge from its many crises stronger, more united and commanding greater respect from other nations of the world.
Good luck, Mr. President-elect, and God speed.