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An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Dear Barack Obama,

You promised a different kind of politics. Of course, many have made this promise, but you delivered it in a way that perked up my ears because it sounded very sincere, and to your credit, you backed it up in many ways and at many times when you could have easily taken the low road. But the siren call of smear tactics and disgusting attack seem to have finally become too much for you to resist and now I open the New York Times to read this:
WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama entered their general election contest this summer denouncing American politics as trivial and negative, and vowing to run campaigns that would address the concerns of voters during a difficult time.

But Mr. McCain made clear on Monday that he wanted to make the final month of the race a referendum on Mr. Obama’s character, background and leadership — a polite way of saying he intends to attack him on all fronts and create or reinforce doubts about him among as many voters as possible. And Mr. Obama’s campaign signaled that it would respond in kind, setting up an end game dominated by an invocation of events and characters from the lives of both candidates.

I expected this from McCain's camp because he was obviously never serious about a different kind of politics and has been doing this all along. But for you to cave to the bloodthirsty fray of lowest common denominator fear mongering and political scum sucking by relentlessly attempting to discredit the character of your fellow presidential hopeful is a betrayal of all those who put some kind of hope in the fact that you would at least show the American political system something more dignified.

In your latest book, which I read voraciously this summer, you had an insightful observation into the motives of the politician:
Neither ambition nor single-mindedness fully acconts for the behavior of politicians, however. There is a companion emotion, perhaps more pervasive and certainly more destructive, an emotion that, after the giddiness of your official announcement as a candidate, rapidly locks you in its grip and doesn't release you until after Election Day. That emotion is fear. Not just fear of losing--although that is bad enough--but fear of total, complete humiliation.

You went on to talk about your one defeat in politics and how it came about because of a public relations disaster that occurred in the heated days of a campaign because you chose to do what was right over what was politically expedient. Has this fear you described now overtaken you so that what is right now has a backseat to what will appeal to the bloodthirsty masses? Are the stakes in winning now too high to do what is dignified?

A major part of your appeal to some who have always otherwise voted Republican has been your intelligent approach to and unwavering focus upon the things that matter. For the most part you have kept to the issues, articulated your positions with clarity and confidence, been honest with your humanity, and taken the character high road when it comes to those who oppose you. But if you steer this campaign into the gutter with John McCain, then you will be taking a knife to the throat of the credibility you have built with those who have seen you as a breath of fresh air and have truly contemplated crossing the party lines for the first time in their voting lives.

Many intelligent people support John McCain for intelligent reasons. Many intelligent people support you for intelligent reasons. But the kind of campaign you run demonstrates just how intelligent you actually believe the American people to be. John McCain has already told me I am not intelligent by trying to get me to believe you are sexist by saying that repackaged old policies are like putting lipstick on a pig and by passing off blatant lies about you and your legislation. In what kind of ways are you going to now tell me that I am not intelligent and must make my decision based on some kind of character flaw or backroom association of John McCain? You've already come dangerously close by showing ads attacking his lack of computer skills.

Show me that I should vote for you for intelligent, well-argued reasons that have everything to do with who you are, what your platform stands for, the kind of tone you will bring to Washington, and the kind of leadership you will provide, what kind of place you will take this country in world affairs, your economic vision, and your social policy. Do like you have done and continue to give me the specifics of why you are the best choice.

I don't need you or John McCain interpreting each other for me. I am not stupid. Do not treat me as such.

With love for America and respect for you,

Cary McCall


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