Columns

Dear President Obama

Dear President Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Reflecting at the White House. Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. He was born on August 4, 1961 and as of 2010 his reported net worth was US$ 11.8 million. | Photo: Pete Souza | Barack Obama, President, Democrat, Liberal, 2012, Thinking,

About those last four years...

Dear President Obama,

About those last four years, may I respectfully request to be heard, in exchange for my support?

I support the Office of the Presidency, and thus, I supported you. While I may not have voted for you, I did support you and I did believe in you. I am a non-partisan who tends to be a bit more conservative than liberal, so when making my decisions on any political matter, I look at the candidate and the issue, not the party. In 2008, I believed in you; however, I did not vote for you. I believed in John McCain as well. Senator McCain's experience and unrivaled commitment to level-headed judgment with matters of country are what swayed my vote. So, as a matter of reference, I was not against you as president. You were a superb candidate. Senator McCain just had more positive components for my final vote.

In retrospect, I and many of my moderate-conservative viewers agree that while McCain would have been an outstanding president, you were the right choice for 2008. I say this, solely based on the effect you had on the country during your candidacy. American citizen's overdue awakening from a long coma was precisely what was needed and you did just that. Any pundit, politician, analyst or voter would be hard-pressed proving otherwise.

That was then.

The aforementioned awakening was exhausted a few months after your 2009 inauguration, as the opportunity to walk the walk that you so eloquently talked about arrived.

Once inaugurated, I watched you launch effort after effort, in keeping with the obligatory campaign rhetoric. Change, hope, reform, healthcare, economy, unemployment... all the standard promises were made and you most certainly addressed every one.

However, it seems that one by one, your initiatives were beaten, compromised, failed, abandoned or forgotten. This is not an accusatory statement of fault, Mr. President; it is a statement of observation with constructive intentions. You are my President. I respect and support the Office of the President, but as a middle class male in my late forties, I have seen just as many presidents as you. I am even related to one. I am also aware of immense and unforeseen opponents to your initiatives, some valid and some self-serving. Honestly, I don't care as much about that as I do the current state of affairs.

Today is today and you were reelected.

Not one of the key campaign issues I was concerned about have improved.

  • The economy is worse.
  • Healthcare is an abomination.
  • Education is an embarrassment.
  • Foreign relations are just as murky, ambiguous and unsteady as they ever were.
  • China is on its way to economically consuming the US.
  • The care of our planet and animals is revolting.
  • Homelessness, hunger, war, crime, corruption and debt all continue to increase.

These issues in particular, have haunted me the last four years. In defense of your past performance, I congratulate you (and many others) on the capture of Osama Bin Laden and other fugitives, your involvement in the arts and your continued efforts to engage Americans in their country's well-being. Additionally, you have consistently demonstrated family values, morals, ethics and have been an iconic role model.

The Obamas
The Obamas

Natasha Obama, Malia Ann Obama, President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama relax at home, at the White House.
| Photo: Pete Souza | Barack Obama, President, Democrat, Liberal, 2012,

Regardless of your last term's success dichotomy, for my support I request the following in no particular order;
1. See that every American has healthcare, period. No more talk. Make this your legacy. You can be the first in US history. This is a first that matters. This is an issue that affects every single person you work for. Do it. Ignore any lobbyist and every special interest. Stop promising. Stop arguing. Just get it done.

2. Stop blaming President Bush for any problem you inherited. Every president inherits problems. It is sophomoric for a man in the Oval Office to repeatedly pass the proverbial buck in such a way. The buck stops with you and that's that. You signed up for the job and you now have it. You wouldn't accept such an excuse from anyone who works for you, and since you work for me, I also reject the excuse. What you do with the enormous privilege of Office you have been given will determine your worth as a president.

3. Make education available to every US citizen who is willing to put in the effort. Pay the teachers well and fire the teachers who are a waste. Flush the unions down the toilet and see that the privilege to teach (as well as learn) is valued well beyond the importance of workforce unity. The process of natural selection will see that good teachers remain employed. Additionally, see that students assist in the teaching of the grade before them. Instilling this intrinsic value of social responsibility will have enormous and long-lasting benefits.

Capitalism
Capitalism

Capitalism is a philosophy of economic systems that is generally considered to favor private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit or income by individuals or corporations, competitive markets, voluntary exchange, wage labor, capital accumulation, and personal finance. | Photo: |
4. Stop losing to China. Mr. President, I have spent much time in China and neighboring countries. I have seen the work ethic and efficiency first hand. The Chinese are willing to do anything to economically dominate us. I disagree with many of their methods and practices, which I have directly witnessed, but that's not relevant. What is relevant is that you stop losing to them. If it means regulating imports or cutting elsewhere to reduce our obligation, then do it. Do whatever it takes. Be "American." Be honest and ethical. Just stop the hemorrhaging to the Far East before this great country is lost.

As an example of trade embargo imbalance, prohibiting Cuban cigars is economically insignificant. However, allowing trillions of Chinese imports to destroy US production is certain economic suicide. Yes, there is importance to the Cuban embargo decision of decades ago but it pales in comparison to what you are allowing from China now.

5. Outlaw campaign donations, period. Mandate a spending cap, with no loopholes, for any and all presidential candidates from the primaries to the election. Level the playing field. Mandate that every national network must allow for X amount of equal campaign time, without exception. The leader of the free world (for now) should not be determined by his/her ability to solicit funds from special interests.

Buddy Roemer
Buddy Roemer

Roemer became a delegate to the constitutional convention in his state where he helped write the Louisiana Constitution. Buddy then served four terms as U.S. Congressman, then two as Governor in 1988. | Photo: BuddyRoemer.com |
As an example, Buddy Roemer was an unbelievably viable candidate for 2012. Despite his value and potential, he was shunned from the mass media because he didn't accept millions from the likes of Goldman Sachs. You did. With regard to presidential fair play and what was best for me (a US citizen), that was outright wrong. It was unfair and I was not allowed to choose in a fair competition.

Mr. President, you can't run again so why not take this opportunity to do what is right and enact unprecedented campaign reform. That will foster hope and change more than any pretty poster or pithy slogan.

6. Stop nation-building. It is important that we assist other countries when they ask, when we can afford to and when our national security interests are at stake. Beyond a UN sanctioned campaign of international co-involvement, the US needs to get its own house in order before we expend so much in foreign military aid and repair. Without question, world politics at the presidential level are more complicated; however, the principal of curtailing our excessive involvement must be obeyed. The cocktail of distraction, harm and infrequent success is a silent killer of America. Too often, we have created more unrest, death and disdain than any peace, opportunity, or gratitude for which we hoped. This is not a request for isolationism; it's a request for prioritization. As a nation, haven't we learned the difference between humanitarianism and nation-building? Israel needs no more military money. Oil producers need no more US-backed actions. Mr. President, get un-involved in matters that turn our government and military into subservient enablers. You can start with the total elimination of our dependence on foreign oil. Again, it is piercingly obvious I am oversimplifying a complex issue, but the spirit of my intent is clear.

7. More intelligence: Fewer bombs. Cutting the intelligence budget is... well... unintelligent. The current condition of our intelligence community is in shambles and despite the brilliance of the men and women who work there. The CIA, NSA, FBI, and all other intelligence acronyms are still isolated from each other and hog-tied by Washington bureaucracy. No intelligence officer will disagree and yet, non-intelligence officers are making unintelligent decisions on their behalf.

Benghazi-gate is a perfect example and four devout Americans paid the ultimate price as a result.

Mr. President, I have colleagues who, while working for the aforementioned agencies, delivered clear and verifiable information that was lost in the Washington whirlpool of bureaucratic suds. As a result, lives were lost in the wash. This must stop. Building more bombs instead of improving intelligence use is like buying more bandages instead of finding the wound.

As a side note, we spend an enormous amount of money on national defense. Less than two percent of that money goes toward the Foreign Service and diplomatic offices. How does that make sense? I have spoken to Ambassadors you personally appointed, as well as, Diplomats in residence and the sentiment echoes down the hall.

Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr.
Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr.

Aaron Stipkovich and Francis J. Ricciardone (born 1951 Boston), the United States ambassador to Turkey. Previously he was Deputy Ambassador at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was also on leave from the U.S. Department of State as a guest scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. This photo was in Egypt, during Ricciardone's term in Cairo. | Photo: StipkoPhoto.com |
Yes, I believe in a strong and well-equipped military force that can shock, awe and even deliver compassion all at once, but not at the expense of diplomacy. Mr. President, when you have a day set aside for "reality checks," please put this on your agenda. I think you'll find a myriad of optimal solutions with a little reallocation. Speak with US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr. in Turkey and Diplomat in Residence, Patricia Guy in New York. You will be enlightened.

8. Support the military, their families and veterans. Mr. President, you have done well by the military and proven you care. But it's not nearly enough. Most military families still struggle, while family members risk their lives and, at times, make the ultimate sacrifice. This is inexcusable. Military family support should rival banking industry bonuses or NYC taxi medallion sales. Veterans should have stellar medical care and financial assistance equal to yours, Mr. President. Instead, they're having things like tripled prescription rates and . While you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, their sacrifice and commitment is absolutely no less than yours. They risk being lost to the world. I am not saying you don't deserve it; I am saying they do. Spend some time at the MOAA and listen to guys like Vice Admiral Norb Ryan. I have spoken to him face-to-face on this subject and was ashamed of America's performance with regard to the military family support. Men like Vice Admiral Ryan are an asset to the US and can provide you with unrivaled (and rare) advice and experience.

Daphna Nachminovitch
Daphna Nachminovitch

Distributing hay with a Pitt Bull, Daphna Nachminovitch is the Vice President of PETA's Cruelty Investigations Department. | Daphna Nachminovitch, Peta, Animal, Cruelty, Rights, Cat, Dog, Activist,

9. Make crimes against animals carry the same punishment as crimes against children. The term "inhumane" has somehow lost its intended meaning. Individuals who are inhumane to animals should be held to the same processing as individuals who are inhumane to humans.

While we're on the subject, how is it that Americans can change the actions of an entire country over the possible risk of moving one owl yet we knowingly guarantee the assured torture and slaughter of millions of animals every year? Is the American Kennel Club (AKC) lobby really that powerful?

Mr. President, outlaw the breeding of any more animals until the animal shelters are empty and all adoptable animals have good homes. Make animal ownership a privilege with accountability and animal abuse a crime with consequences. This is an easy one and you could make a positive life-altering change in a few days with no harm to anyone but the lobbyists. Where else can one man make such a vital difference to so much life, with no opposition, except a few special interest groups?

10. Immediately stop the destruction of irreplaceable resources. Mr. President, I know you can't magically change the world. However, beyond anyone else, you have the ability to make global change. The correct pressure is easy to apply with little negative byproduct to the innocent.

For example, notify Japan they must stop killing whales and other endangered species before any Japanese-owned company receives another cent from any operation in the US. This includes imports (yes, vehicles and electronics) and expatriated revenue from American-owned businesses. Make similar conditions to any other country blindly destroying the ecosystem. Global warming is an important issue, but it can temporarily take a back seat to stopping the immediate extinction of at-risk species, ecosystems.

Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz; November 28, 1962) is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian. He is widely known as host of The Daily Show, a satirical news program that airs on Comedy Central. |
11. Maintain the media's constitutional right to freedom, but hold them directly and criminally liable, in accordance to their influence. The media in America should have the right to release anything, as long as it is lawful, it is truthful and it doesn't harm anyone. Simultaneously, ensure that the media is responsible for its influence on individuals and society. [For a much more in depth look at how media manipulators take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it, peruse "Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator" by Ryan Holiday.]

Of all my requests, Mr. President, this may be your toughest challenge.

Because the various media outlets (press, television, music, movies, internet, magazines, etc.) are the highest profile sectors in the country, they can best rally opponents to this effort. Nonetheless, there must be a tangible and sobering price to pay when members of the media abuse the right afforded them by the Constitution. They have to be held accountable in some reasonable, fair and safe way. Rappers and their media backers should not be able to release songs about killing police. Julian Assange fans should not be able to release documents on the internet compromising national security. Religious or political extremists should not be able to incite violence or mass murder under the guise of their beliefs. Our founding fathers did not intend for their constitutional architecture to be mangled in such a way. This has to stop, and must do so without becoming a Fahrenheit 451 environment. Good luck.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am aware that this is no easy task list. I am also aware that there are exponentially increasing road blocks to all of these requests. But we can't just toss our hands up and say "it's too hard," or "the guy before me wrecked it." These are requests that you can put into action with a pen, not an armed drone. These are also requests that many view worldwide as fair and right. You promised hope and you alone hold the key to more hope than any other single person.

Forget special interests. Forget lobbyists and partisan divides. Forget color, cronyism, political correctness, and Washington strategies. Remember the hope you promised. Remember we hired you and remember why. You've been given a second shot. Like any brilliant first-time president, you have surely learned much about the Office. I pray you put that experience to good work these next four years.

Sincerely,

Aaron Stipkovich



PS: While I have your attention, I have a few personal kudos and gripes, if I may:
    A. Please make a formal and concerted effort to replace some of the dignity and respect lost by Senator John McCain as a result of your campaign in 2008. A cursory look at his life and dedication to this country is all it takes to see he is the definition of an American hero. The way he was treated by your campaign was shameful.

    B. Your unrelenting efforts toward cultural diversity are unrivaled in the Office, maybe only bested by Abraham Lincoln. This is not to say that your predecessors were not effective as well, but your efforts seem to have had a historic effect on diversity and minimal effect on reverse discrimination.

    C. Ask Governor Romney for some economic advice. Show some wisdom. He was a formidable adversary in the election, and with good reason. Forget the election. Get to work on the economy and put him to work. He can only help. Paul Ryan can help too. Can't we all just get along?

    D. Can you and Vice President Biden stop referring to Republicans as "they?" As a matter of fact, can you see that the party system is just abolished altogether? Washington fights over partisanship more than any issue in history. How are you guys missing that?

    E. Pete Souza, your photographer, does excellent work. He shows you as a leader, statesman, human and family man. He shows you up and he shows you down. It is good that America sees you candidly, while still maintaining respect for the Office.

Pete Souza and President Obama
Pete Souza and President Obama

Chief White House photographer photographer, Pete Souza relax, if only for a moment. This is one of the few photos of the President, not taken by Mr. Souza... wait, did he shot this himself? We think, yes. | Barack Obama, President, Pete Souza, Photographer,


    F. You have a great jump-shot.

Barack Obama, top of the key
Barack Obama, top of the key

The President taking a much-needed physical fitness break, to release some tension and free up the common senses. Mr. Obama, showing classic jump shot form, (although, technically his toe is still touching, thus, this not really being a jump shot) is said to have a 68 percent from the top of the key. Not bad. We smell a second career. | Photo: Pete Souza | Barack Obama, President, Democrat, Liberal, 2012, Basketball, Sports, Monument,

    G. I hated receiving the campaign emails from you with the subject lines like "Hey bud" and "Check it out!" Mr. President, you're the President! Don't send emails like you're a frat butty, tweeting my the latest dirt on the Tri-Delts. I never want to confuse your email with Viagra spam, a Nigerian banker, or an investment opportunity.

    H. Your ability to communicate is astounding and rivals even President Regan and President Kennedy.

    I. Stop making party decisions. Be conservative when it's the right thing to do. Forget labels. If the right decision is a conservative one, then make it. Forget parties. Do what is right. It's not a clich?, it's a guideline. Ask yourself why you are making a decision, every time you do. Is it for the blue or is it just plain right? (No pun intended)

    J. Your style is impeccable. You are one of the few presidents in history who was not dressed by Brooks Brothers (fact) and you still pull it off. Good work.

    K. It's great to see you on talk shows periodically. Do it more often. It is good that Americans see you as presidential and still human.

Barack Obama and Jay Leno
Barack Obama and Jay Leno

President Barack Obama and The Tonight Show host, Jay Leno enjoying a moment before airtime backstage in Burbank, California. October 25, 2011. | Photo: Pete Souza | Barack Obama, Jay Leno, Talk Show, Host, President, Democrat, Liberal, 2012,

Comment on Disqus

Comment on Facebook

Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:13 PM EDT | More details

AND Magazine AND MAGAZINE

©2017 AND Magazine, LLC
5 Columbus Circle, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10019 USA

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written permission from AND Magazine corporate offices. All rights reserved.