October 9, 2012
Dear President Obama,
I registered to vote today. I decided you could use the help.
I haven’t voted since I helped to re-elect Bill Clinton, a fact which I am still ambivalent about. Since then, I have tended to stay away from elections. And the country seems to muddle through pretty well without my input. Of course, I supported you in the last election, although I wasn’t registered. I wore your campaign button, and I cried on election night, because I was just so proud of my country.
You lost me for a little while after you ordered the assassination of Osama Bin Laden (yes, I know there are other official words for what you ordered… but that’s what it was). It hurt to see you giving in so blatantly to an end-justifies-the-means mentality.
But you won me back when you finally came out of your closet, and declared your support of same-sex marriage. That was the single bravest thing I have ever seen a politician do, because you had nothing significant to win and everything to lose. You didn’t have to say anything at all. And yet you did. That made me cry too, this time because I was so proud of you.
You’ve worked hard for this country, and helped it get back on its feet. Things are looking better today than they did four years ago… it’s not the Great Rock Candy Mountain just yet… but it’s looking up. It has been a tough time to be president, but you have worked for us through it all, not just with short-term solutions, but by also working to help us find good long-term goals to work towards—like renewable energy, for example.
Which brings me to the camel that finally made me decide it was time to cast my vote: the so-called “War on Coal.” You don’t live in southeastern Ohio, so you haven’t seen the signs: “Stop the War on Coal: Fire Obama.” No doubt someone has told you about them. The biggest problem with the War on Coal, so far as I can tell, is that it is a lie. Coal production in Ohio is up since you took office, and coal industry employment is up as well. Our local big coal mining company, Murray Energy Corporation, just built itself a new three-story office building… as I drove by it on my way to register to vote, the landscapers were installing the trees around the pond out front (you drive up to the building across a stone bridge over the pond… it will look beautiful when the landscaping fills out). The industry hardly looks embattled to me.
Yes, you support renewable energy, and you have spoken about our need to begin to move away from coal eventually… but that’s good. As one miner who supports you told me recently, “I may be a coal miner, but I ain’t just a coal miner. I like clean air and clean water. I think they’re a good idea.” And it’s inevitable anyway. Someday, the coal will run out. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that be a seamless and transparent transition?
But more than simply misunderstanding your hopes for the long-term, Romney and the Republicans, and Murray Energy Corporation, have resorted to lies to try to influence the people of this area. Romney claims to care about the welfare of coal miners, and yet when he had his photo-op coal mine rally, the mine was closed for the day, and the miners lost a day’s wages, so he could be photographed talking about the plight of coal mining, in front of a coal mine. That didn’t seem like the sort of thing a man who cared about the welfare of working people would do. And then I discovered that Murray had made it mandatory for his Murray Energy Corporation employees to attend. So he padded the event with employees who had to be there, but who weren’t getting paid. Was that the sort of thing that someone who cares about the welfare of workers would consent to?
But today, I discovered that apparently Murray had also lied about mine closings and layoffs…. At the rally, you were blamed for the closure of a mine and for the layoffs of mine workers. But according to a miner with Murray, the mine had been closed because the ground wasn’t stable… “Nothing more than gravel holding hands”. Unless your policies destroyed the integrity of the soil, that mine closure had nothing at all to do with you. Nor did the layoffs. My source told me today that Murray lays off miners at that particular plant every summer when the demand for coal goes down. Murray likes to lay them off, I am told, because it’s a union shop and apparently he hates unions. So you were a convenient political scapegoat that Murray and Romney and the Republicans blamed, knowing you had nothing to do with the reasons behind the closure or the layoffs. …And maybe a lot to do with an improved economic climate that enables energy corporations to build fancy new office buildings.
And that was that. I decided that I wasn’t swallowing that camel.
To the best of my knowledge, you have always been honest with the American people. Your honesty and integrity, in fact, has placed you head and shoulders above most politicians in this country (except for that little slip with Osama Bin Laden, where you descended to business-as-usual politics). You care about the welfare of the United States and its people, and about liberty and justice for all… not just for the already powerful and wealthy. You are running against a business-as-usual dishonest politician, with nothing to offer but short-term solutions, that are only designed to make his wealthy dishonest friends wealthier.
You deserve to win. The country will be better if you win.
So, today, after I registered, I cast my ballot. You’re +1 in Ohio.Thank you for your continued service to your country. I hope you win.
God bless you.