Sunday, September 26, 2010

My letter to the President.

Yes, I haven't posted for awhile. Been sick, been busy, been sucked into Facebook. Anyway, I wrote a letter to President Obama today. It's going in the mail tomorrow. And it's one of my better efforts, I think.

Dear Mr. President,

I come to you today to tell you the stories of some of the people who voted for you two years ago.

My son-in-law is a 99er. His job went to India. The job market in Eugene is worse than it is here in Portland, but they can’t afford to move. My daughter is in the middle of an unplanned pregnancy- and carrying twins. They have gone through their savings and have nothing left. They are facing eviction, and I cannot help them. What have you done for them?

My roommate and I have a young couple living in our basement (if not, David and Lydia would be there) who came out here from Indianapolis. Dan managed to get a job after about four months. He is an engineer and physicist and had been out of work for about a year. His wife Ellen is doing temp work. She is a librarian, and due to funding cuts all over, the libraries are cutting staff, not adding it. What have you done for them?

My son is hanging on desperately to a minimum-wage job because it is all he can find. He’d like to go back to school, but student aid packages are really slim these days, and he can’t figure out how to make up the difference from his current paycheck. What have you done for him?

My fiancĂ© is an Instructional Aide in a middle school. Budget cuts there have cut his hours back to half time. He lives in a college town and at 46 cannot hope to compete in the market for part-time jobs. He had been working on a teaching certificate, and has one term left to go– the student teaching. But he has run out of money. He can’t take out more student loans due to current outstanding ones. He can’t find the money for the tuition, much less the living expenses for a semester while he teaches. At the moment, he is lurching from month-to-month scarcely keeping the rent paid and the lights on. What have you done for him?

My oldest daughter ran from her second job and stood in line for two hours, dirty and smelly from work, to vote for you. She’s a college graduate, bright, skilled, and juggling two, three, sometimes four part-time jobs so she can keep her apartment in Brooklyn. She would like to go back to school for her Master’s, but as she says, she has this filthy habit of eating, and she just can’t give it up. She’s the hardest working human I know, and she’s still skating on the thin edge of ruin. What have you done for her?

My roommate works for the federal government, and she’s 63 and nearing retirement. She crossed party lines to vote for you. She’s scrimped and saved and made careful investments and in the past two years she’s seen her retirement money cut in half. She owns her house, but thanks to the housing market, it is worth more than she can sell it for, and she must pay taxes on the higher value. She is facing the future with no small amount of fear and trepidation. What have you done for her?

I have friends who unemployed, underemployed, or hanging on to jobs they hate because there’s nothing else out there. Friends are losing their homes, have lost their homes, have gone from nice family-sized homes to seedy apartments in an attempt to stay afloat financially. I can think of three people who would be living in our basement were it not already occupied. We don’t have room for any more. I have friends who are hard workers, skilled, conscientious, who are on food stamps because they can’t pick up enough contracts.

Mr. President, what are you doing for us?

We’re out here, struggling, meanwhile the top 2% have the unmitigated gall to demand more tax cuts. People are homeless, and hungry, and yet the rich have the audacity to demand more. How dare they! Mr. President, we thought that you were there in Washington to change the world– for us. Right now we aren’t seeing any change. Making speeches about fighting for the middle class does nothing if you don’t take that fight to Capitol Hill. The Republicans have made it clear that they care for no one but those who can line their pockets. They don’t care about my daughter, who wonders if her babies will have a home to live in. They don’t care about her husband, who they’ve labeled a deadbeat though he lost his job through not fault of his own. They don’t care about anyone, so long as they can get fat checks for their re-election efforts.

Mr President, it is time– no, *past time*– for you to stand up for the people who put their faith, the money, their time into you and what you said you would do. It is time to you to tell the Party of No that you say Yes. It is time to walk up the hill and tell them you are there for the people, not for the corporations. It is time for you to tell them that you have a responsibility to protect the interests of the 98%.

Mr. President, it is time that you started doing– for us.


Laura Minnick