I received a “We the People” video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVAhr4hZDJE) on my Facebook page that was laced with patriotic imagery, images of veterans, and strong condemnation of President Obama. It starts out with drum beat with a spoken letter “Dear President Obama, We the People reject your vision for our country…” How dare anyone speak for me as I am part of We the People. I am an American and no one should try to corral their opinion as representing me or all the ideologies represented with those famous three words in our Preamble to the Constitution of the United States – “We the People.” I responded to the person who polluted my Wall with this conservative emotional appeal and misrepresentation of President Obama. The United States is still a republic, with strong capitalist economic principles, and strong social structures to regulate the components of our national economy. I haven't lost one freedom or liberty as a result of President Obama's election as President. I feel emboldened with a President who deliberates over important decisions seeking a vision for American that is better for all Americans, women and men, rich, poor, every race, every gender, and culture. I strongly resent patriotic appeals designed to misrepresent President Obama's leadership - a leader who I am proud to call President of the United States.
Our government listens to all voices. In my state, I'm represented by two Republicans Senators and one Republican Congressman and one Democrat Congressman who is Vietnam Veteran, businessman, and gun owner. I do not always agree with my state elected representatives’ opinions or votes. But I respect the election process, my responsibility to vote, and the job our elected officials do for all Americans. I take my responsibility to vote seriously and also I write to my Senators and Representatives to voice my opinions regularly.
To refute the We the People video, let me qualify my background. I have over 25 years in the Air Force. I entered post Vietnam and served over 17 years overseas through the Cold War, the shoot down of KAL-007; command and control over the Seoul Olympics in 1992; Just Cause in Panama; Drug Operations in Panama; Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia; Deny Flight; Operation Southern Watch; non-combatant evacuations in Sierra Leon and many other special operations throughout the Middle East, European, and African regions. I’m not a front line guy; I’m the maintainer responsible for fixing avionics, leading my airmen, and putting aircraft in the sky to carry out our national objectives, strategy, and tactics. I believe that soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, national law enforcement, civil law enforcement, fire fighters, teachers and emergency medical professionals are serving a higher calling to support and defend the Constitution, provide safety and security of all Americans, and secure the blessings of freedom for ourselves and our posterity. No single political ideology should lay claim or exploit these professional members serving their communities and country to achieve their political agenda.
Major accomplishments made with President Obama and the 111th Congress
+ President Obama and the 111th Democratic Congress elected by We the People recognized women were not being paid equal wages for equal work. The Republicans blocked amendments to the equal pay promised by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and allowed companies that exploited women with equal responsibilities and less pay to claim the seven year statute of limitations from the first paycheck. The 111th Congress and President Obama amended the law and installed a key provision that clarified “that discrimination occurs not just when the decision to discriminate is made, but also when someone becomes subject to that discriminatory decision, and when they are affected by that discriminatory decision, including each time they are issued a discriminatory paycheck." Rep. George Miller (D-Ca).
+ President Obama elected by a majority of people, represented by the Electoral College, organized by the Constitution formed by "We the People" are leaving Iraq - a war fabricated by President Bush's White House Intelligence. President Bush seized on the emotions of a nation galvanized by terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. President Bush pursued greater action not against the perpetrators of 9/11, but actions against a perceived threat to the Middle East and our oil interest in that region. The true the cost of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan are paid by voluntary military service and veterans lives lost and wounded. Yet in terms of dollars – an estimated $1.72 trillion will be spent to pay for these two misdirected wars by 2019. The cost paid by military families who lost a family member or who return wounded physically and mentally will last a life time. As United States citizens, "We the People" are shouldered with the debt to families who lost a loved one and to returning wounded vets in our misguided Iraq war and misdirected and under resourced Afghanistan war. Under President Obama's leadership "We the People" have strengthened our commitment to take care of our returning Vets. We feel heartfelt gratitude to our service members for their service. Yet we are confounded by the purpose the Republican led Congress and President Bush pushed our military into War with Iraq after the attack from al Qaeda originated from Afghanistan. What has President Obama done?
+ President Obama strengthened the Department of Veterans Affairs increasing the budget for veteran’s affairs 11% that the previous Bush administration left under funded with deteriorating facilities as close as Walter Reed.
+ President Obama set a withdrawal timeline in Iraq leaving 35-50 thousand troops by August 2010 and being completely withdrawn by December 31, 2011.
+ President Obama set a policy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan AND he committed the military and budgeted resources to support this resolution.
+ President Obama as Commander in Chief - a Presidential responsibility conferred by Article II Section 2 of the United States Constitution established a measurable time line for making a continuation of support decision in Afghanistan. August 2011 - the Taliban and al Qaeda may insist the U.S. has the watch, they have the time - yet we have the ability, and will to exercise our power anytime, anyplace should any terrorist organization harbored in Afghanistan or Pakistan ever attack the United States.
+ President Obama after significant deliberation solemnly spoke before West Point Cadets and announced 30,000 additional troops to support the strategy that was never established under the Bush administration. He committed troops with a $30 billion/year commitment to this deliberated decision. He spoke to the gravity of his decision because he understood the ink he penned his approval for this strategy flows from the sweat and blood of the military carrying out his strategy. He spoke of the urgency to complete the mission so we understand the fiscal cost to our country not to mention the risk it placed on each service member engaged in this commitment.
+ Under President Obama's leadership with the powers conferred to him by the Constitution, "We the People" reversed the practice of torturing prisoners engaged by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfield. We signed the Geneva Convention to respect the dignity of prisoners of war and require humane treatment – a treaty we signed and embraced with all civilized nations. We will have to overcome the damage our misdirected treatment of terrorist and prisoners of war places on our servicemen as they execute the orders of officers and the President of the United States. Due process or military tribunal would have been far more practical than jeopardizing our service member’s lives should they fall into enemy hands. I can only pray Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho is alive and being treated to the highest ideals we subscribed to under the Geneva Convention. He was captured June 30, 2009 from Paktika province in southeastern Afghanistan.
+ Under President Obama and the Democrat led 111th Congress elected by "We the People" - we are recovering from a major recession created by the Republican Party. The Democrat led 110thCongress began the rescue from President Bush's reckless spending by passing the Troubled Asset Recovery Program (TARP) and the 111th Congress remains committed to improving our financial fundamentals cracked opened by the Regan Administration and abandoned through Bush 41 and Bush 43. These issues and more were abandoned by Republicans over the last decade.
+ With contentious and often hostile debate, the 111th Democrat led Congress elected by "We the People" finally have hope at achieving affordable health care. The vision of President Obama and the Democrat led 111th Congress championed this monumental change that will insure providers and facilities get paid for services while providing all Americans the opportunity to get care when they need it. No longer do I or my fellow Americans have to live in fear that a pre-existing condition will negate our ability to be covered by health care insurance. No longer will my fellow Americans have to live in fear about health care insurance coverage should we lose or change jobs. This legislation is just the start. Yet it does not take away my freedom, it breaths life into my freedom by helping my fellow Americans contribute to health care and decrease the cost of insurance for all of us collectively.
Exploring Root Causes. If you really want to measure the damage one Party, one Conservative belief has left on this country - measure the financial impact of conservative leadership from President Nixon, Ford, Regan, Bush (41), and Bush (43) as compared to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama. President Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and instituted a War Tax to pay for Vietnam. President Carter weathered stagflation that initiated from poor economic policies from the Nixon and Ford administrations. Carter took a tougher road at his own political expense and kept us out of war with Iran allowing that country to determine their own course after decades of U.S. meddling. President Clinton improved the rights of all Americans to serve in the military as they have since the Revolution and past ancient times. President Clinton also reduced deficit spending leaving the Republicans a budget surplus when President Bush took office in January 2001. Yet President Bush squandered this surplus through off-budget spending for Iraq and Afghanistan; unpaid for Medicare Modernization Act of 2003; and tax cuts in the face of increased spending. Over 582,000 jobs were lost from the beginning of President Bush’s administration till he left office. Between January 2008 and January 2009, the Bush economic policies and the budgets enacted by Republican Congresses from 1997 through 2007 collapsed the economy leaving over 3.83 million people with out jobs when President Obama took office in January 2009.
The momentum of the Republican economic policies created a freefall that will take years to correct. Republicans shouldered this country not with the desire to increase the national debt to instill tranquility; but the necessity to increase national debt to promote domestic tranquility for the United States and our economic allies around the world. I will not forget the gross mismanagement or misrepresentation Republican leadership fostered to push their agenda. The Republican Party shattered my belief that the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility for the people. The GOP is about promoting business at the expense of We the People.
Show Me! I feel emboldened by the Constitution where I still have freedom and liberty that are being strengthened by the vision of President Obama. The major act the Democrats and the President have put forward - Health Care promotes the general welfare as outlined by the Preamble to our constitution as much as the Democrats pushed to strengthen the amour protection for our troops supported the common defense also outlined by our Preamble. If you feel President Obama has usurped the Constitution - cite the article for I have read the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble of the Constitution and the Constitution itself and I find no Article, Clause, Amendment, or law where the President has limited anyone's Constitutional rights or violated the Constitution of the United States. This President more than any in recent times has worked to foster debate, communicate with all people, and work for the United States.
American Identity. Instead of passing “We the People” messages cloaked with Patriotism, the Flag, and using Veterans as a backdrop to support Republican Conservative opinions, first understand that President Obama was elected President by "We the People" under the framework outlined in Article II Section 1 of the United States Constitution. We the People are men and women from all races, cultures, and identity. We the People are citizens from all walks of life and carry the skills our economy needs to thrive and yes – some citizens serve and have served in the military. The military doesn’t serve the liberal, conservative, independent, libertarian, socialist or any other party – the military serves the United States of America. That simple service is codified in Article I of the Code of Conduct that all military service members are charged to keep should we ever be captured. With one statement we say who we are, our purpose, and the extent we will go to serve our purpose…
I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
Democracy and The Republic President Obama won the election in November 2008. The majority was clear and decisive. Senator McCain respectfully conceded defeat hours after the polls closed. President Obama not only won popular vote, but carried the Electoral College. I strongly support President Obama and the vision he has for a stronger more vibrant sustainable economy, jobs, health care, financial reform, national defense, domestic and international policy. I shudder when I read opponents misrepresentations cloaked with patriotic appeals against a President who has proven to take more action in one year than previous administrations have taken in full terms or even two terms. I have to ask – what changes are Republicans and Tea Party activist afraid of? Many policies and actions have directly benefited all of us. Clearly the policies of the Republican Party have not advanced foreign, domestic, defense, health and welfare, or economic policy to the extent President Obama and the 111th Democrat led Congress have advanced our general welfare, common defense, and liberty. Yet conservative pundits continually bleat like herded sheep the country is declining. Republicans may have a point – but the Democrats are working very hard to turn the Republican led decline around and raise the United States to new levels of achievement, safety, security, and liberty for ourselves and our posterity.
Path to Progress Thru Raising Expectations. Many TARP loans have been repaid with interest; Stimulus is working; I-84 is being improved through stimulus funding in Idaho and many more projects that kept Americans working through the recession. Tell those contractors who are earning money and businesses supporting those contractors that Stimulus is not working. The effects of this recession would be far deeper without Stimulus - a program not on President Obama’s agenda – but an economic problem he aggressively worked to resolve. I know I personally benefited from the Stimulus package because I ran my 2009 taxes against 2008 tax laws and I had less tax after the Stimulus Bill than I did before the Stimulus bill. Tax relief is not a goal for me as I realize the tax cuts in the face of fiscal commitments will have to end. I realize I will pay higher taxes at some point after the recovery is firmly in-place to pay for the Stimulus package and add fiscal responsibility that was shattered under Republican led Congresses and economic policies engaged by President Regan and abandoned by President Bush (43).
Republicans are quick to say Stimulus cost to much, and then the Republicans ask what President Obama doing about jobs and the economy? How can Republicans speak out of both sides of their mouth? Republicans want to fix the economy and get people back to work yet the tax cuts plans Republicans used in the 2001 Recession prolonged the collapse. When the opportunity arose to recover revenues in 2005, Republicans continued to spend on unfunded wars and abandoned regulation in the financial markets. Explain how that equates to fiscal responsibility – is that the conservative line? Where do Republicans think business is going to find money if banks are not willing to lend. Especially if banks cannot get favorable lending from the inter-bank loans managed by the Federal Reserve? The drunken fiscal policies enacted from 1997 through 2008 by “conservative Republicans” have reversed deficit reduction and compounded deficits leaving the country in worse economic position than at any other time in our history.
To recover – it takes government intervention and support to bail out banks, and industry to rebuild an economy and foster growth and prosperity for ALL of us, not just the CEO’s, bankers and brokerage managers. It takes leadership to tackle the urgent economic morass left by “fiscally conservative Republicans” who passed the largest budget deficit to an incoming administration ever recorded in U.S. history.
The massive recovery efforts required to prop up our economy from Republican mismanagement doubled the deficit – yet while tackling the urgent economic needs, Democrats again envisioned the deficit reduction laws they passed in the 1990’s and passed pay-as-you-go legislation. The same legislation they passed in the 1990’s that was repealed by Republicans in the first decade of 2000. Democrats re-enacted pay-as-you go legislation in the 111th Congress and under President Obama’s budget vision are committed to leaving the nation deficit neutral by the end of President Obama’s first term. I will admit after the Herculean efforts to keep our economy afloat, I find this goal admirable, but I remain pessimistic we will be able to achieve deficit neutrality from Jan 2009 when President Obama took office. President Bush and the Republicans simply laid a deficit trap with the economy, defense, foreign and domestic policies that will take significant time and effort to overcome – at least ten years. So for all the Tea Party supporters and GOP who are asking “How is that Stimulus thingy workin for ya?” I respond with a resounding – GREAT! And I can envision a time when our spending curve will bend down instead of up as it did during the unbridled drunken spending spree the Republicans created from January 5, 1997 through January 4, 2007.
Multifaceted Prism of Diversity and Opinion. Please, don’t trample our Preamble to the Constitution’s leading phrase “We the People” with a biased one-sided view, because “We the People” are all Americans. We are left, right, centrist; all races; women and men of all sexual orientations; we are of no religious faith, and from many religious faiths. We believe in the right to life and pro-choice; we are over 300 million and "We the People" deserve the respect of all ideologies. We are entitled to our own opinions and free speech without our opinions being cast in opposition to “We the People.” Our opinions are the multi-faceted components of our great nation embodied by those three words "We the People." We deserve the civility to discuss, agree, and disagree with passion but not rancor and threat of violence. For it is with all of us that we are “We the People.” To divide us weakens our common goal to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”