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View Diary: Here's my letter, Karl (169 comments)

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  •  Dear George (2+ / 0-)
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    Sally in SF, propitious2

    I once voted Republican in every election for 20 years.

    I cast a vote for you in 2000, and celebrated your win.

    I once argued with coworkers and family that it is good to seek slimmed down government, to reduce the tax burden on Americans, and limit social programs. I argued vehemently about the virtues of a free market system, and the intelligence of capitalism to drive sound economic outcomes versus the "evil hand" of big government.

    I once believed that people were poor because of bad decisions they made, because of laziness, because there was something wrong with them. I once believed that people on welfare wanted handouts and a free ride, and were prospering on the back of my hard work and sweat.

    I once believed that I "paid my dues" - that somehow we are all in control of our own financial destiny and that if osme of us could be "rich", we ALL could be rich. It just came down to smarts, know how and hard work. And of course, I once believed that's what life was all about - wealth.

    I was once so self absorbed I never gave even a minute of my time to others. Never wrote a letter to a paper or Congressman to get involved with public policy. I never bothered to meet my neighbors, nor to care much about their well being or problems. I rarely donated my money, and spent quite a lot of time pissed off at telemarketers hoping to raise money for their causes. Screw the reason why they're on the phone, but fuck em for bugging me for 30 seconds.

    I once believed "spreading democracy" and "ridding a country of evil" was a good reason to send our kids off to war. I once believed that the only way to defeat terrorism was to attack it - to "root it out of its cave". I never bothered to look at our own actions and consider whether in other parts of the world our own aggression could be viewed as a form of terrorism - especially if we crossed certain pre-emptive and/or ethical lines. I guess I always believed America was always right, and everyone else was always wrong.

    I mean I did see the wall come down and our hockey team beat the evil Russians - didn't you?

    Thanks to you George W. Bush for opening my eyes over the past eight years.

    I was wrong. And ignorant. And selfish. And naive.

    I never could have imagined how sickened I feel every time a new soldier's name is announced as lost in Iraq.

    I never could have imagined how real a lack of healthcare insurance is for many, many who work hard, and do the right things and need our help. And how selfish we are for leaving it to "the market" to care for these people.

    I never could have realized on my own the real and present threat of an overzealous Executive Branch should it choose to conceal information from Americans, pry into our affairs without cause, and refuse to accept responsibility for any action, or remorse for any unpopular decision. To conceal documents from justice, to manufacture information that supports actions, to turn our backs on international law and the United Nations on behalf of some self-appointed higher moral authority.

    I could never have imagined the emptiness and coldness behind a culture that tolerates blind accumulation of wealth for the few at the expense of the many. Could never have forseen the dismal example we set for our children when it becomes all about what material possessions we have and what prestige we draw from our financial assets, while we bemoan taxation and disavow any role for ourselves in helping cast a linfeline to those in need, to educate and provide for our children, and to ensure a dignified retirement and care for our elders. I never realized how hard it would be to look my children in the eye in a world where success is defined by an iPod or Wii for Christmas, and not by building a home for the poor or giving food to those who are less fortunate.

    I realized that I am at my ugliest when I spend all of my time conjuring up empty philasophical arguments to support selfish political objectives. When it is all about being right, and never about doing the right thing, regardless of who thought of it first, and what political party they hail from. I remember now how foolish it is to always think you are right, to tell Americans that any other line of thinking is "dangerously unpatriotic" (copyright Sean Hannity 2007), and to breed hate and distrust of anyone whose views differ from mine. I recognize now we are all at our best when we walk and talk together, and not when we cling to power and rhetoric as if it were some life creed.

    I thank you George W. Bush, because without your last eight years of unimaginable failures, lies, finger pointing and dillution of intellect and wisdom, I may well have remained mired in my political and social malaise - my comfortable existence of looking out only for myself and my family, and living a life of achievement measured only in terms of financial security and material possessions. I would have remained ignorantly certain about my own righteousness, as if I hailed from some higher intellectual authority than my fellow neighbor whose ideas differed from my own. I may have remained on the sidelines as others did the hard work to address urgently growing problems that affect us all - global warming, healthcare, poverty, neglect, tyranny, hunger, and all the rest. I may well have continued living as if the world revolved around me, and that the pittance of taxes I pay to play my part in advancing the common good was the #1 crime committed against me and all of humanity - in other words, my life's mission to reverse.

    Your timeless failures, sir, and how you have ocnducted yourself in achieving them, have lit more of a fire under me than any political speech or marketing effort. I now know who I am - in life and in the voting booth. I now recognize my role in all of this - as a parent, a son, a husband, a citizen and a neighbor. It requires more of me than to "work hard" to attain personal wealth - that some of what I do and gain IS VERY MUCH for my neighbor who can't and my fellow man who is without. You, President Bush, have, in so magnanimously displaying the ugliest side of us all throughout these years, provided us the clearest "mirror" into ourselves, and have drawn out our better angels in a collective way not seen since the Great Depression. Most of all, sir, you have given me rest from the fighting, for i now know it is not about who is right and who is in power - it is simply about doing what is right and lifting those up who have fallen and are in danger of being left behind.

    In the military, from which my father hails, there is an age-old adage that inspires even the most numb of us: We never leave a fallen man behind. In the life of an officer, this is the most noble and courageous of creeds. Yet, who are we to not adhere to the same standards as citizens? Who are we to allow others to suffer while we focus on staying ahead of the curve? Your administration reminds us all that there has to be a better way - our very  survival may well depend on our getting past the "all about ourselves" mentality that you fostered from the moment you took office.

    Tomorrow, our nation turns a page in the chapters of history, and moves on from our past. You will never have my respect Mr. Bush, nor my support. I hope the faces of each fallen soldier and suffering citizen follow you as you move through life. But irnoically enough, you do have my thanks - not for a job well done, but for showing me the folly and horror of continuing on a philosophical path that is now so obviously empty, and hollow at its core.

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