An Open Letter to PA VotersSubmitted 1 year agoTo the esteemed Editors and my fellow citizens,
I would like to think that the citizens and voters of Pennsylvania are made of sterner stuff than the national media and the opposing campaigns are proposing regarding the comments made by Senator Barack Obama in San Francisco. The problems with the statement seem to range from outrage to his observation that some are bitter in this state to his comments, which were dismissive, about the role of race in this campaign. These are the "issues" we are to consider when determining who should contest Senator John McCain in the general election? For those who have not been watching this election as I have, the debate over actual issues seemed to end a few weeks before the Texas and Ohio primaries. It then became about political scheming and playing the politics of fear that began with the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans after George Washington decided not to seek a third term as President and continued through the campaign strategies of the current occupier of the Oval Office.
I would like to address, as a former Republican and now Democratic supporter of Senator Barack Obama, these issues, and how I hope my family and neighbors in this state consider the significance of this statement. Firstly, I believe the fundraiser that Barack Obama was attending was filled with five internet small-amount donors and not fat-cat rich Democrats of the type that would hold a concert for a candidate. After reading the entire transcription of his response, one sees that he answered a question to what role race has to play in his deficit in the polls. His response was that it had not to do with race, but with the fact that anger at the failure of the government to provide for its constituency drives people to the rights that this government cannot take away from us: the right to our religion, the right to keep and bear arms for sport or security, and the protection of our national sovereignty and identity. This was not condescension by an elitist millionaire against a people he is out of touch with. More accurately, this was an observation, not in calculated language, where Senator Obama empathized with a situation that he understood and equated with his own struggles and those of whom he has assisted for decades. Senator Clinton's rebuke to him was obviously a prepared statement read rather than spoken from the heart; at the very least she should give a pass to Senator Obama for his "misspeaking."
There are more important issues the voters should consider when choosing their nominee on April 22. I would like to first look at the fact that Senator Clinton has been routinely disingenuous with the American voter and we are supposed to merely look past it. Her misstatement about her Bosnian landing, uttered three separate times at all hours of the day including on St. Patrick's Day in Pittsburgh, is only the most blatant example of her duplicitous nature. Earlier, she admonished Senator Obama's campaign for, I believe, executing good judgment in pacifying the fears of an ally until the issue is truly on the table for consideration - specifically the renegotiation of NAFTA. Senator Obama's campaign staffer also spoke without the approval of his candidate. Yet, Senator Clinton's top man in the campaign was actively pursuing a brand new deal with a nation, rather than easing the fears of an ally with whom this nation already has an agreement. Mark Penn has not even been removed from his campaign or his private sector position for his apparent conflict of interest. In my profession, I cannot even assist a client with financial documents for fear it will be a conflict of interest, yet this man can deal with a foreign nation outside of his role in a campaign for this nation's highest office and we are supposed to just accept that Senator Clinton is the candidate with our best interests at heart? It seems that she cannot even maintain awareness of her campaign staff's activities, what does that say about the activities of her Executive staff including her Cabinet?
Senator Clinton's main tenet is her readiness to lead on day one. This is but one example of shoddy management in her campaign and merely the most recent sign that her campaign is disorganized and ineffectual. She has had two shake-ups of her high-level staff in recent months. Her campaign has mismanaged money. They are running low on funds and the Clintons had to loan the campaign $5 million to keep it in the black in January. Vendors are claiming that her campaign has not paid their bills on time. How does this exemplify that this candidate is ready to assume the very difficult task of being Chief Executive in a country that is not going nearly as well as her campaign was only last summer? Her mismanagements of the campaign, utter disdain for smaller contests and caucuses, and underestimation of Senator Obama's campaign only serve to show to me that she has trouble managing an organization of her own supporters. I see a fighter in Hillary Clinton that seems to fight all those around her, whether a fight is warranted or not.
The sub-text of race that is in this campaign cannot be ignored. It began with Governor Rendell's comments that our beloved Lynn Swann's poorly managed campaign was only marred with defeat due to our hesitation to vote for an African-American and not the wherewithal of the electorate to determine which candidate was most qualified. Consequently, I am concerned at what Pennsylvania business is being ignored due to the Governor spending most of his time being chief cheerleader for Senator Clinton. Geraldine Ferarro's comments further spread this type of hurtful rhetoric but brilliantly they came from the only person who could get away with making such a statement: The 1984 VP nominee, admittedly, only because she was a woman. Today, Sen. Clinton's ads portray her as the only candidate that "can beat John McCain" and it is what is not being said in these ads that speaks volumes. I only pray that the citizens of this state take time to be educated about these candidates and make decisions based upon this information and not voting as those on talk radio or 24-hour cable news say we are going to vote. We are better than we are being painted. Pennsylvania has a chance to play a significant role, as we always have, in the course of the future of this country. The truth shall set us free.
In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education."
Joshua M. Patton