Dear Mr. President

by Sandy Nelson on August 14, 2011

Dear Mr. Obama:

What happened?

Your election was one of the most exciting and promising events of my life. Finally, after eight disastrous years of political and financial policies that carried our great nation from a solid surplus and booming economy to stratospheric deficits, two wars, international disrepute and the verge of total financial collapse, we elected a thoughtfully intelligent, articulate President who spoke of hope and change in rousing rhetoric that rallied millions around the world and generated exuberant anticipation of the better days that surely lay ahead.

Looking back, shortly after your election, I recall being at a dinner party in a private room at one of those venerable Washington institutions—The Georgetown Club. A group of people, more Republican than not, gathered for a meal. At one point, we went around the table asking the twenty or so diners to speak to their sense of the state of the Country. Each expressed great hope and support for you. And, declaring excitement about the promise you represented and offering prayers for your success, virtually every single Republican—most life long members of the GOP—described in personal terms journeys that led to the crossing of party lines to vote for you over Mr. McCain.

Now, a little over two and a half years later, we find ourselves still waiting for you to lead.

Just this morning in your weekly radio address, you urged the American people to give an earful to members of Congress. You asked us to influence them to take responsible action to create jobs, build our infrastructure, improve our educational system, etc. Once again you reminded us that we voted for “divided, not dysfunctional” government.

Forgive me, Mr. President, for being so blunt, but just when do you think you and your advisors will come to the realization that waiting for and imploring Congress to act responsibility is the embodiment of the common definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Wake up, Mr. President! We, the American people, know that Congress is, at this point in time, a broken institution filled with hapless, radically ideological, self-serving, ultimately hypocritical demagogues interested only in the advancement of individual careers, the interests of their financial sponsors and inciting narrow bands of myopically focused supporters to near hysteria with the hope of assuring re-election. Why is it, Mr. President, that you, above all, fail to see the futility of expecting anything of value from these abhorrent parasites on the vitality of our country as long as you continue to shirk the responsibilities of courageous leadership.

To continue to speak plainly, we need and expect more from you. Our patience has run out. The time has come for you to make a choice. Lead or get out of the way!

But, your logic, ineffective as it has proven to be so far, seems to be that with an election just over the horizon, you must present yourself as the only reasonable elected official in Washington—the lone ranger trying to shame the unruly mob into responsible action.

You and your advisers clearly believe that droning on about giving an earful to our members of Congress, continuously blaming others, whining and sniveling about the current state of affairs will lead those of us who are political moderates to the polls in November 2012 to cast our vote for you, the man of reason. You also seem to believe that your unrelenting chastisement of Congress will help us find our true anger towards the institution and it’s disgustingly egotistic members. Your logic chain appears to be based on the assumption that if you can spur enough anger toward Congress, we will vote the reprobates out of office and you in for another four years.

Well, Mr. President, I feel compelled to tell you how off base your thinking actually is. Are we angry with Congress? Yes we are. Will we vote to kick the irrational ideologues out of office? You can be assured that there will be substantial momentum and strong inclination on the part of most to do just that.

But, and this is the real kicker, your failure to exhibit courage, compassion and leadership has made us even angrier with you than we are with Congress!

Your absence from the front lines through most of your administration and blatant incompetence in negotiating the recent debt reduction bill leaves my fellow moderates and I looking for any reasonable alternative to supporting you in 2012. Your recurrent unwillingness to shape the national conversation through a compelling narrative and complete surrender to the cynical trap that has so successfully been laid for you are inexcusable.

Are we really that disaffected? To borrow phrase from the uber-maven of self promotion and hypocrisy, Sarah, “you betcha”!

Why is this so? It is because you have the tools to make a difference but consistently, doggedly choose not only not to add value but to surrender large swaths of ground in virtually every debate from the get go—virtually assuring that unbalanced solutions are put forward for every key issue of our time.

Cowering in the background, behind your mane of reason, you periodically emerge to whimper a bit more and remind us the inequities inherent in our political system at the moment.

Rather than put forward solid, well delineated ideas and take principled stands in the best interests of the Country, you equivocate, stand back while the national dialogue is hijacked by the radical right and the sycophantic media outlets that champion it. Always late in the game, you emerge complaining, but seldom take the risk of leadership.

Frankly Mr. President, I’m at my limit listening to your tired litany of dysfunction. You act as if your ineptitude makes no contribution. No doubt Congress is terrible. But, oh Absent One, your failure to lead is an even worse affront than the many perpetrated by Congress.

For goodness sake, stop this charade! If necessary fire your out-of-touch, sub par advisors, dig deep to find your backbone and do what we elected you to do.

Put solid ideas forward. Take a stand. Meet threats with threats, call out the vacuity of the extremists logic. If necessary, bring back Ross Perot to make charts for you illustrating the contribution to our deficit of each of the last several presidents. Show how George Bush added up to four or five times as much to the deficit as anyone else. Delineate the future without new sources of revenue and strategic investments in the competitive capabilities and infrastructure of our country. This data is in the public domain. Why is that you continue to allow it to lie fallow?

Make a plan and put it forward – in writing. Set a course. Bring back the oratorial skills and passion that drove your election.

Draw a line in the sand. Engage us, mobilize us, focus us on what really matters. Go to battle. Let us know that you have it in you to go toe-to-toe with the forces that are driving our great country into escalating deterioration.

If you can’t bring yourself to leadership, please, please, please step aside and let someone else carry the water.

We need you, Mr. President. Can you hear our call?

Yours sincerely,


Sanford Nelson

Small Business Owner and Disaffected Political Moderate


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