TOM GOERGEN: Please Give the Nation Your Best, Mr. President
Dear President Obama:
Your Inauguration means that you, as in the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," can be Mr. Smith.
We believe in your message of hope. We want change in Washington: Much less bickering. The good of the country put first by our nation's leaders. Simple, competent government.
You are embarking on a difficult job at a critical moment in our history. I would not wish your job on anyone but am filled with hope and expectation that you are the best we have to lead us at this time. Burke admonished that for evil to triumph, it is enough that good men do nothing. I admire your courage for entering the arena and fighting.
America is on the verge of bankruptcy politically, financially and morally. No matter what you do, we will endure a period of suffering and adjustment. There will be those only too ready to blame you for our troubles, even though they have taken generations for all of us to create. You will even make some mistakes of your own.
Put your intellect, character, values and heart into helping the least powerful in our country and in the world. Summon the rest of us to do the same. The welfare of each of us depends upon the welfare of the lowliest of our fellow Americans. We must help raise our brothers up, not with handouts, but with incentives and empowerment. You can do wonders if you have the country behind you.
We need a revolution in politics and government. Taxpayers would benefit from complete federal campaign financing. Representatives could focus on our business instead of fundraising.
Policy judgments would not be clouded by calculation of their effects on donors. As it stands now, in the worst cases, raising thousands in campaign contributions might require generating millions in profits. That might require authorization of billions in questionable government contracts.
It is said that man needs work, bread and dignity. I know you promised them to us, but we do not need tax cuts. We need jobs building infrastructure, alternative energy technologies, caring for our sick and elderly, and educating and inspiring our youth. We need manufacturing jobs. That will require balanced trade, in which countries earn the right to sell to us by importing equal value in return.
Rise above conventional wisdom where it isn't working. You have a capable team. However, they have all been molded by the current system. Some problems require competent administration that follows established principles. Others require a radical departure from past practice.
Trillions of dollars will not deliver Wall Street from its malfeasance. Some of its adventures amount to legalized gambling with money they should have had a fiduciary responsibility for. Financial collapse would be painful, but grinding impoverishment of future generations, including Sasha and Malia, would be too great a price to pay.
Before agreeing to borrow billions to rescue Wall Street, make certain both that it will work and that it will not overburden future Americans. It will fail those tests.
We could endure a financial crash if government would temporarily take over lending to Main Street and provide real jobs to those in need, working on projects designed to provide a return to those future generations paying for them.
Make justice a cornerstone of foreign policy. For example, Israel is our friend and ally. We must defend her right to exist. But we must also remember that the Palestinians are people too, with the same intrinsic value as all of God's other children.
Israel was carved out of Palestinian lands. Palestinians must accommodate themselves to that.
However, just as if Israel were fashioned from Kansas, we should do our best to provide a viable, unified, self-governed, functioning and legitimate state with the remaining land for the displaced native population.
Please remember the wisdom of the ancient Romans. A companion whispered in the ear of a conquering general, during his victory lap, reminding him of his mortality. It is wise to remember our fallibility and the temporary nature of our power.
You have good intentions. Get outside advice. Think big thoughts. Challenge orthodoxy. Start revolutions where they are needed but, like our Founding Fathers, build something better instead of just tearing down.
That is what your Inauguration means. We hope you will lead and inspire in a way that we will be proud to follow.
The need is urgent. The time is at hand.
You are our president. God bless you, and may God bless America.
Tom Goergen lives in Southern Pines. Contact him at email@example.com.
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