If I Were Running for President

Last night’s presidential debate depressed me.

EmptyStageI slept poorly.

I awoke this morning upset and tearful.

Must we be treated like shareholders in a proxy battle for the management of the largest enterprise on the face of the earth?

Do none of us want our passions stirred for our own good?Is there no leader here who might motivate us with their thoughts on how we might collectively be a nation?

If I were running, I would say:

My fellow Americans,

We once had terrorists and their sympathizers in our midst, yet we did not hire a foreign force to invade Chicago to find the Chicago Seven.  We did not inspect every black looking for Black Panthers. And we were able to forgive Patty Hearst for taking up with the wrong crowd. We did pursue those terrorists and we made them ineffective and marginal. When aging 60’s radicals finally came out of hiding they were more the subjects of our pity than our scorn.

Japanese prisoners of war thanked us for saving their lives for they had been the products of an evil indoctrination that advocated suicide over a change of heart. Our goal is for middle aged Muslims to thank us one day for saving them from the evil indoctrination of their youth. Our goal should not be to hunt down and kill every last one of them. I doubt that they will ever thank us for bombing their villages as we looked for evil doers among them. We can deal with terrorists for we have done it before, and hopefully war never need be used to that end.

A nation should not take the decision to go to war lightly, and it is not the equivalent to hiring some professional police to maintain the peace. A nation at war requires complicity from all its citizens in the violation of the Golden Rule as it makes it a national mission to kill other people’s loved ones. If the day ever comes when we need go to war, I shall hold hands with you, kneel, and beg forgiveness for our own failure to find an alternative. In the meantime, I solicit help from every one of you in seeking a better path, and I shall never say that, just because I personally can not think of an alternative, then there are none.

Many of you wish to import American made drugs from Canada because our drug companies sell our drugs cheaper there. As chief executive I intend to vigorously enforce the unjust law that prohibits such importation, and as you leader I encourage all of you to violate that law as an act of civil disobedience. Then collectively we will present ourselves to those drug companies, millions strong, as their own customers who have been criminalized in support of their greed and we will stop them from perpetrating the biggest injustice of all by charging what the market can bear, rather than working for our best health. When we are victorious, I promise to pardon all of you of your crimes. My approach does not require the consent of Congress and the drug lobbyists will be powerless against us.

Our desire to litigate is out of hand, and we all must reassess our relationship with responsibility and risk. A life may be of incalculable value, yet accidents do happen. We do want our doctors to have insurance in case their negligence causes us harm, yet we want them to be able to afford that insurance. The solution to these problems may involve capping awards but it also involves us capping our own expectations and behaviors. If you wish to be reflective, I suggest that you decide if you personally have enough insurance to fairly compensate someone if you cause them harm. I also suggest that if you hate ambulance-chasing lawyers who advertise on TV then you tie up their toll free numbers with your opinions of them.

We do have a health care crisis in this country, and part of the problem is that we are becoming increasingly unhealthy because of the choices we are making. As your President, I intend to protect your investment in me by exercising every day. I ask C-SPAN to cover it live. If your President can find time to keep fit, so can you. Won’t you join me?

I am pro business, and it has been said that the business of America is business. But when it comes to your relationship with your government I do not want you to think of yourselves as shareholders of a corporation entitled to benefits without liability, and voters in an occasional proxy fight for a change in management. I want you to think of yourselves as partners in an endeavor sharing not only the benefits but also the effort and the responsibilities. I want you to wisely identify leaders in your midst.

God has blessed America and I hope we can act in a way to justify his continued blessing. Like many of you, I am not even sure I believe in God, but I say these words because they best express a feeling in my heart.

As I write these words, I cannot help but cry. As I listen to our presidential candidates, I cannot help but cry out.

Note: This was originally posted on October 9, 2004 under the title A Friend Writes on Baristanet.com.

What appears below are the comments as they appeared following the original piece.

 

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Author: Brooke Allen

A retired Wall Street executive with a whimsical side.

7 thoughts on “If I Were Running for President”

  1. Beatifully written

    I must say I cringed when even Kerry kept referring to ‘going out and killing’ all the terrorists…or whoever that turned out to mean.

    Maybe you can write a play to produce at the new theatre at MSU that would have more relevance today than the play we witnessed yesterday…with a similar message.

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  2. Leftover hokum from someone who simply hasn’t outgrown the 60′s. Embarassingly foolish-sounding. Get over it, you know? And vote! But enough already with the sorry attempt at a generational screed you posted.

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  3. I’m the hokum writer, and admit my hokum might be warmed over 60′s sounding. And I’ll still vote.

    But I wish I could choose among a greater variety of hokum than the current embarrassment of dearth in Presidential hokum.

    I am asking my candidates to:

    – Motivate me. Rather than tell me how I’ll benefit from the other guy being taxed, tell me why I’d want anyone (including me) to be taxed. (Also, why do I want to go to war again? Or is that only my generation that cares about the answer?)

    – Appeal to my emotions. I still get a lump in the throat reciting the pledge, or saluting the flag. On TV, why should only long distance telephone company ads make me choked up?

    – Show moral conviction. I’d rather hear an impassioned speech from someone with deeply held beliefs I despise, than pabulum engineered to respond to market research. (In fact, at this point I might just vote for anyone showing passion, just as a protest.)

    – Lead. I expect my leaders tell me what they think I should do. It takes much more to be an American than just voting, working and shopping (and oh-yea, raising money for your own political party). But both candidates seem to be saying, “vote for my plan and then get back to your shopping and working (or at least worrying about working).: If that’s all they are saying, most of us world rather not take the time off work and shopping to vote.

    I believe that our politicians do not do this because:

    1) They are afraid it might loose them votes.
    2) They do not know how.
    3) They are afraid it might appear as embarrassingly foolish-sounding hokum.

    I am glad Lincoln and Churchill said what they did.

    Could someone attempt at writing something that supports any of the candidates positions that might motivate me with an appeal to my emotions that shows the moral conviction that they might lead me to be more of an American than just a voter.

    Of course I will vote, but it just does not seem like enough. (Oh, I forgot, I will pay my taxes too; that should end my obligations, don’t you think?)

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  4. Three cheers for Barista for posting letters like this from our neighbors. The atrocities of war and the leaders we vote in and rule our sorry butts should make us take action. This is our country damn it and this is our planet! We must demand responsible leadership as “world citizens”. You know that is what we are?

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  5. For all those who rue the military engagements set into motion by our current President, whom I will happily vote for when compared to his fellow Bonesman who is much more elitist and out of touch, let alone military adventurism in general, it might be useful to review how many times in both Africa and the Pacific France has rushed troops in to take a hand in things. Without so much as asking approval from the UN! Quel horreur. But also pro forma in that nation John Kerry loves so much. A nation where, it might do us all well to remember, the spirit of the 60′s was “celebrated” with much more police headracking than ever occurred over here. I for one have absolutely no nostalgia for the 60′s, and yes, I was there at all manner of things. Most of which, in retrospect, appear to be truly regrettable excesses. Including (but not at all limited to) the Black Panthers, the Chicago 7, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Bella Abzug.

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  6. Cathar: (and anyone else who would care to respond) I hear plenty of “I like this” and “I don’t like that” and “your candidate sucks” discussion…but it leaves me flat.

    Could you, or anyone, write a speech that would convince me that I should support a particular position. You see, I’d follow Winston Churchill, or FDR, or Washington, or Lincoln into war based on what they said at the time, and how they said it. I am prepared to follow someone into this war as well, if they could make the case as eloquently. I just don’t want to do it simply because it is a better “plan” than the other guy.

    Also, I’m not sure why you keep talking about the 60′s, and I’m certainly not “celebrating” the 60′s. I’m just saying that we actually had terrorists here then, (SLA, Panthers, not CSN&Y) who got infiltrated, driven underground, and marginalized so that today we have plenty of people, like you, and me, who couldn’t care less about them and whatever they were fighting for. Had we been very heavy handed and brutal in dealing with those movements, today we might be fighting a low-level civil war. Perhaps we could do something similar this time about terrorists here, and also leave other countries civil wars to themselves – but you could convince me otherwise – you will just have to work at it. Calling me names doesn’t do it for me.

    Anyway, you write well. Could you pretend you were a speechwriter for Bush and write the speech for me (and everyone else who might read it) that will make me feel like supporting him. I suspect your speech must consist of more than: “My fellow Americans, I’m less elitist and more in touch than my fellow Bonesman.” What would you have him say? Also, what would you have him say I should do beyond vote for him and raise money to help him convince others to vote likewise?

    Hey, look, my nation is at war…what should I do to help other than pay taxes, vote for the guy who got us there, and report suspicious behavior?

    All the best.

    Screeder

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