Monday, December 10, 2012

An Apology to the President of the United States of America

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to you in regard to certain actions taken just now by certain citizens here in the State of Alabama. It seems they have joined citizens in more than thirty other states in “peacefully” requesting your permission to secede from The United States of America. While I assume they know that this is largely a symbolic request—you’d never grant such an absurdity—I feel compelled to speak on behalf of those of us who regard this as a more serious matter.

What is being proposed here is that these individual states be allowed to legally separate from the Union and form their own sovereign governments. This is no doubt due to the fact that the policies enacted into law over the past four years are seen as so egregious as to be unbearable for some. If asked, I imagine many of these seditionists would say that Obamacare, certain executive orders regarding immigration (etc.), and (misperceptions of) current and past events warrant their stance.

Amongst many in my state, you are somehow seen to be “other” than what our traditional Presidents have been. You have an Arab name, are non-Caucasian, and advocate for progressive policies that the right-wing entertainment media complex has convinced them are “socialist” or “Marxist.” While I am certain that the first two of these descriptions of you are quite accurate, the third is definitely not.

For me personally, I love the reforms that are provided in the Affordable Care Act—no pre-conditions, no caps on benefits, premium rebates if my insurer doesn’t spend enough of my dollars on actual healthcare, and the coming exchanges—and there is nothing at all socialist about any of that. And I love that you refocused our efforts against radical Islamist militants on the militants themselves, not on your predecessor’s policy of nation building in Arab lands. I love that you rescued America from falling right off the economic cliff into a depression in 2009—something that your opponent in that election stated he would not have done. I love that you established the Consumer Protection Agency, disabling much of the abuse that banks and credit card companies routinely inflict on us. I love that you are proposing a balanced approach of increased revenue plus cuts to solve our growing fiscal problem. I love that you are proposing reasonable adjustments to Social Security and Medicare, instead of the Draconian ones your opponents in this recent election were proposing. I love that you instituted some regulation on Wall Street and the banks, making it much more difficult for them to gamble with America’s wealth and collapse the economy again. I love that you are in favor of all Americans having the same rights to marry, or to worship (or not worship) as they choose. I especially love that you regard war as an absolute last option, ensuring that the very brave men and women in our military are put in harm’s way only in the most critically necessary of circumstances.

If you were to grant secession to my state, I have no doubt I would lose a great many things that I do not wish to lose—federal interstate roadways, clean air and water, the protection of the U.S. military, the Medicare and Social Security that I have long paid into, legal equality of all races and genders, federal regulation of an increasingly narcissistic business community, FEMA help for our fairly frequent natural disasters, and other federal benefits too numerous to mention.

But many of my state’s residents don’t see any of these benefits that have been guaranteed to them by your presidency and the Constitution. They are ill-informed, and/or misinformed by such right-wing extremists bearing the names of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Drudge, Breitbart, and others. The venom spewed by these types is believed by hordes of my state’s residents, either because they are severely uninformed or because a long-entrenched popular ideology disposes them to do so—an ideology that renders them nostalgic for supposed earlier and better times when white people were dominant and the public square was mostly inhabited by “Christianity.” Many believe that you favor a dependent society where “free stuff” is the order of the day and they are the ones paying for it—despite the fact that you have praised individual initiative and reject helping those who will not help themselves (in fact, your own story is the epitome of individual achievement). And despite the fact that requirements to access entitlement benefits remain unchanged from your predecessor’s administration.

Much of this is driven by both racial/cultural biases and by fundamentalist religious ideology. But I also believe that the populist neo-libertarianism that has recently sprung up is the result of misperceptions by many about their perceived loss of liberty. When I ask such Alabamians which liberties they have lost, they really can’t name any.

So, Mr. President, please don’t grant this absurd and insurrectionist request to secede from these great United States—not that you would anyway (e.g., The Constitution provides no legal path to secession for any state)—because 4 out of 10 of us here in Alabama believe you are doing a very good job of navigating us through some fairly difficult times. And because we believe that secession would permit those who are running this state to immediately thrust us back into the 19th century, when only the privileged could enjoy a chance at living a prosperous life. This is not speculation, as the powers in Montgomery have already passed racist and economy-harming bills like HB 56 (which, thank Heaven, the Supreme Court mostly struck down), our attorney general joined with other states to have the Affordable Care Act struck down, and of course most recently certain citizens have submitted this un-American request to secede.

So I apologize for my state, and want you to know that many of us here in the Deep South believe that you have done an excellent job, and are optimistic that the next four years will bring us even more reasons to be glad that the recent election turned out the way it did.

Sincerely, and with great respect,
Jim Hoffine
Birmingham, AL (11-12-12)

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