Open Letter to Barack Obama

December 15, 2006

Open Letter to Senator Barack Obama:

From: David Cook, Menomonie, WI

As you ponder whether you will enter the race for the Democratic nominee for President in 2008, I would like to share with you my heartfelt request that you only make the decision to enter this contest if you are willing to lose the nomination on the basis of your policy positions.
I am writing as a progressive Democrat, a senior citizen on Medicare, and an active member of the United Church of Christ.

Winning control of Congress was only the first step toward restoring democracy and competency to our federal government. We have a long way to go to repair the damage that has been done to America and the world by the Bush government, as well as years of a militarized foreign policy and an imperial attitude toward the rest of the world.
If you, as a potential Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination, do not commit yourself to clear policies that need to be advanced for the health of our nation, then the American people cannot participate in the debate that is badly needed.

Let’s begin with Iraq, which will clearly still be a problem in 2008. If you are not willing to take a clear position for a complete military withdrawal from Iraq to begin immediately upon your assumption of office in January 2009, then don’t bother to run. We don’t need to risk another American life for this useless failure in Iraq if Mr. Bush is unwilling to end our involvement before the next President takes office.

Changing our imperial attitude in foreign policy is not the same as isolation. We need you to enunciate a new foreign policy that reaches out with respectful conversation and negotiation with any nation to deal with problems that affect the welfare of people globally, as well as American national interests. Your youth and hopeful attitude can bring a healthy debate on foreign policy.

On the domestic side, if you aren’t willing to campaign for a policy of universal health care based on a single payer, the U.S. government, do not bother running for President. Now is the time to have this debate and it would not be worth winning the nomination if you weren’t committed to working for this level of change. If the American people will not elect a President who promises universal health care, then so be it, we are not ready to deal with this pervasive problem. We can’t solve the health care problem if the debate doesn’t happen before the nomination and the election.

Clearly, you must be willing to put U.S. environmental policy squarely on the path toward reducing the causes of global warming. You must be committed to significant regulatory changes in the entire range of environmental problems. Don’t bother to run if you can’t argue for these changes as you pursue the nomination.

Of course you will have to face the demon issue of taxes head on and argue for tax policy that reverses the growing gap between rich and poor in our nation and trade policy that also addresses the same issue. This is a matter of national security and global stability. Don’t play into the conservative arguments that portray taxes as a barely necessary evil to be kept as low as possible for everyone.

On the spending side you will need to argue for major policy reviews of Pentagon spending. If the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq has taught us anything it has taught us that we are wasting billions of dollars on new weapons programs, on the boondoggle of “missile defense”, on more ships and airplanes. Spending and deficits are clearly out of control and threaten our long term national security. But we can’t get spending under control without altering the way we deal with the Pentagon budget. Are you willing to address this?
What kind of “commander-in-chief” do you expect to be? Better be ready to have a posture that is devoid of swagger and macho, and all about thoughtfulness, confidence, and a willingness to surround yourself with smart, independent minded advisors.

One more thing, big and difficult, but now is the time for a leader to start speaking out in favor of public financing of federal election campaigns. If we can’t get big private money out of the cost of campaigning for office we can’t reverse the anti-democratic trends that threaten our constitutional government. Talk to my Senator Russ Feingold about this!

So here’s the deal, Barack. If you are not willing to stick your neck out and campaign on substance rather than your youthful, charismatic, rock star image, don’t bother to run. All your personal qualities and character will be frosting on the cake, not a reason to nominate you for President. Don’t waste our time if you aren’t willing to argue for policies that will restore our democratic constitutional government and address real problems facing the nation and the world.

If you do decide to run and show that you care about substantive issues facing our nation and argue for progressive policies, you will have me and a huge number of other Americans enthusiastic about the idea of electing you our next President.

Sincerely yours,
David Cook


December 18, 2006 - 11:48am