Good evening, President Obama:
If, by some infinitesimally tiny chance, the blogs Cogitamus or litbrit are on someone's feed--and that someone happens to be nearby as you prepare to speak--I want you to know something:
I've supported your candidacy for President since you were a twinkle in Harry Reid's eye. Before that, probably--a friend gave me Dreams From My Father well before the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and she said, simply: Watch this guy. He's something special. I read; I agreed. I still agree.
Over the course of your campaign, I donated. I call-banked. Last November, I walked around a neighborhood full of cranky retired Republicans in rainy weather and got to hear the clichéd phrase Get off my lawn! for real. Like millions of others, I was thrilled to have the privilege of being able to do my part to help elect a leader who'd put America on the right path--the path to justice; the people's path--at long last.
Yesterday, I stood on a street corner in the middle of my hometown, in Florida, and held aloft a big red sign emblazoned with the words:
PASS HEALTHCARE NOW!The group with whom I was demonstrating--we were outside the office of our Congressman, C.W. Bill Young--was promptly set upon by some pretty nasty characters, Mr. President; some of them were wearing combat fatigues and t-shirts with your face on them. Your face and a swastika underneath it. One of these creatures carried a sign with a delightful water-color painting of Speaker Pelosi--she was depicted undressed, with exaggeratedly saggy and unattractive body parts, and the text read: Obamacare can't fix THIS!
You'd have been proud, though, because I did the Barack thing: I remained calm and just smiled my own considerably toothy smile at those charming interlopers.
And then I put my British reserve in my back pocket and shouted at the top of my lungs: Hey, hey, ho, ho, Big Insurance has got to go! as well as What do we want? HEALTHCARE! When do we want it? NOW!, and I kept it up as my friends joined in the cheers and cars beeped their horns as they passed.
I even got invited upstairs to speak with Congressman Young's aide. I expressed my wishes for my family, for my country: universal and affordable health care. Medicare for All. I don't mind what you call it or how it's branded, really I don't (and it's not often you'll hear me say that, word-wonk that I am).
Anyway, Mr. President, I know you're well aware that people are hurting. The cost of health care is destroying our citizenry at a time when people have already lost their savings, their retirement funds, and all too often, the very homes in which they've lived and built their families.
I'm only a little bit older than you are--ten months, to be exact--but I figured out long ago that the whole reaching-across-the-aisle thing was never going to work. It doesn't work in my own extended family, it doesn't work in the circles of other parents with whom I must sometimes interact--both of which groups of people, unlike you and Congress, are in a position to simply avoid talking politics--and it most certainly doesn't work in Washington. I know you get this. How could you not?
They want you to fail. They want your party disemboweled and they want you gone from Washington.
But America needs you. And tonight, when you speak to the country in your first State of the Union Address, we need you to get very, very tough, and--yes--very, very partisan. We want you to lead: it's why we all worked so hard, and gave of our lives, our time, our money, our words, and our love.
We want you to lead.
You are the President. Your detractors and political enemies are licking their chops, waiting for healthcare reform to die on the vine because they know that failure begets more failure; gridlock begets frustration and disillusion; and disillusion itself will beget a catastrophic disaster for progressive hopes come November.
As Ezra says today: you have the ball. And as I say--pardon my French--We're perilously close to Game Over, here: time to put your muscle and skill behind that motherfucker and go for the win.
Because we all know this much about the healthcare game: victory for the people will translate to megawattage on the scoreboard--and that brilliant, much-welcomed light will surely slice up the fog hanging in the air between now and this November.
Yes you bloody well can!