By MATT PEIKEN
November 6, 2008©
Dear John McCain voters:
It’s morning in America, and I understand you’re mourning. A black man is the next president of the United States and you’re afraid. You’re afraid Barack Obama will raise your taxes and take away your gun. You’re afraid he will encourage pregnant women to have late-term abortions. You’re afraid the government will make you sell your Hummer and see a Communist doctor. You’re afraid all those emails you received over the past few months are true—Barack Obama will take his oath on the Koran, promote homosexuality, outlaw Christian broadcasting, strip the phrase “bombs bursting in air” from the National Anthem, allow people on welfare to stay there, appoint Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to his cabinet in a plot to turn the White House black and help Islamic terrorists obliterate America.
So I write this open letter as a blanket of comfort and a bridge to your future. By the end of President Obama’s first term, you’ll pay fewer federal taxes than you do now, have more choice in healthcare, live your faith any way you choose, find that the rich are still rich, sing the National Anthem without learning a new verse and sleep well knowing your gun is still legally tucked beneath your pillow. The homosexuals you fear won’t destroy the sanctity of your marriage, would-be terrorists will find it more difficult to do this country harm and Al Sharpton will still be living in New York City.
But I won’t surgarcoat this—you will have to accept a measure of change. Immigrants of the 21st century will have as much opportunity as your forefathers did to live here legally and build productive lives in this country. Public education will have the funding to meet the standards of No Child Left Behind. Healthcare will be more widely accessible and affordable. Sex education won’t begin or end with abstinence. The unions that are responsible for higher wages, better insurance policies and stronger retirement benefits for American workers won’t be treated as enemy combatants. Freedom will mean more than the slogan on a magnetic ribbon. The government under Obama will be far less intrusive of your life than the government under Bush. Big business will have to operate more ethically, legally and transparently. Government will address global warming without arguing against the human contribution to it. Science and consensus, not faith, will guide policy. Industry lobbyists won’t write our nation’s energy, healthcare and telecommunications policies (yes, you can put away those “Drill, Baby, Drill” placards). Government regulators and overseers will regulate and oversee. The United States will once again recognize the Kyoto Treaty, the Geneva Convention, Darwinian evolution and democracy. Foreign policy will begin at a table, not on a battlefield. We will end the war we started and we won’t start another, knowing we can never leave Iraq in victory, only with honor.
I know—this might all seem too depressing. After all, you’ve stood by conservative ideology through thin and thinner, and now you’re looking in panic for an iconic beacon with a poll-tested narrative as your guide to tomorrow. So it probably will serve as little comfort to know that leaders and citizens around the world have now, instantly, with Obama’s election, renewed their faith in America. With the strokes of 63 million ballots, people have forgiven (though not forgotten) our country’s behavior on the international stage since 9/11. Like estranged family members ready to patch things up, the world sees our collective vote as a gesture of global goodwill. You can see it for yourself in Wednesday’s headlines from the South China Morning Post, the Jerusalem Post, the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian, El Universal of Venezuela and the Arab News. The world is on America’s side once again, because the world sees America as back on its side.
This is a lot to swallow. You’re skeptical and suspicious. You’re used to supporting politicians who claim government doesn’t work and then prove that claim once they get into office. Here’s the critical difference between the government you’ve come to know and the one you will meet in 2009: Obama will try. Instead of working to stall, starve and stop government, Obama and his administration will identify where and how government can best help. They won’t treat government as the enemy but as a resource. They won’t view government as the solution to life’s problems but, rather, they will help sculpt a landscape that allows you to more easily build that better life for yourself.
If you can’t get on board just yet, I ask this—stop reading and forwarding those emailed rumors and alarms and expand your informational intake beyond Limbaugh, Drudge and FOX News, and leave room for a president with positive, progressive ideas to light the way for a lost nation. In 2012, your greatest fear about Obama might be having to admit that, four years earlier, you were wrong about him.