What Shall We Tell Our Children, Mr. President?

Reposted from last November because I felt like it…

It’s 4:00 AM.  I couldn’t sleep…

I had lunch with my 15 year-old daughter today.  It’s her Homecoming Dance this coming weekend, and with 12 of them all going together, they thought they’d get a limo to take them to dinner and then to the dance.  The kids were struggling with being able to afford it and get it done, so she called me.  My wife and I decided to help them make it happen.  But that’s not my point here…

During lunch she said in passing: “Maybe a few years ago when people had money…” and it made me sad to realize that they know… they see and hear what’s happening in this country… they see people, including me, working more and worrying more.  This has already affected their lives growing up.  They’ll take the feelings they have today with them through the rest of their lives.

So, what shall we tell our children, Mr. President?

Shall we tell them how you came into office… wrapped in a message of hope and change… promising transparency… saying you’re one of us… and then how you fought relentlessly to help the people of this country?  Or should we tell them the truth, Mr. President?

How you turned your back on the working class in this country to favor the banking class.  How you decided that a mediocre health care bill was your priority over 20 million Americans losing their homes.  How voters became so angry with your administration that you lost control of the congress after only two years and now we face gridlock and nothingness as a result.  What shall we tell the children about how your decisions affected this country, Mr. President?

Should we tell them how things are fair in this country, that we are a nation of laws and that we are all equal in the eyes of those laws?  Is that even true anymore, Mr. President?  Should we tell them about our nation’s Founding Fathers and how they envisioned a representative democracy, a republic, in which our elected representatives represent the will of the people?  How can we show them their vision and claim it came true, Mr. President?

Should we tell them how we are a nation, one people, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?  That united we stand and divided we fall?  That we never leave Americans behind; that we care about the poor as we care about the rich?  How can we tell them these things, Mr. President?  Is this what you and your wife are telling your children, Sir?

What should we tell them about the future of this country? That the working class people of this country all became irresponsible at the same time, went out and bought homes they couldn’t afford, and now deserve to be losing them… 20 million or more Americans… all losing their homes, and that once that happens our economy will be better?  Is that what you’d have us tell them, Mr. President?

Because that’s crap, Sir, and I don’t lie to my daughter… ever.  So, I think I’d prefer to tell her the truth about what’s happened, Mr. President.  That a small group of rich bankers broke laws, abused our financial system, caused the incalculable pain and suffering they see around them… that our government was inept… that they looked the other way because they were so out of touch with the way the world really worked… works.  That we can’t really trust them because they will be influenced by moneyed lobbyists pedaling the views of a small segment over the needs of the nation.  That we cannot trust or believe in politicians when they say things, whether to get themselves elected, or otherwise.  Like you, Sir… that they cannot trust people like you, Mr. President.

Shall we tell them that this is the land of opportunity, and that we strive to make that opportunity as equal as possible?  That crime doesn’t pay, and that they can be anything they want to be as a citizen of this great land?  Because that’s what I was told as a child, and I’ve believed it all of my adult life, Sir.  But not anymore, Mr. President… and not because of what our last president did or didn’t do, but only because of what you have and have not done.

You alone have caused me to lose my faith in America, Mr. President.  How could you allow that to happen, Sir?  I feel a loss so great and so tragic that I can barely think of it without weeping, Sir.  I wonder if Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Kenny Lewis, Dick Fuld, John Mack, John Stumpf, Vikram Pandit… and all the rest… do you think any of them feel that way, Mr. President?  They received record bonuses for their role in our nation’s fall from grace, I wonder what they will tell their own children about this time.  Do you wonder that as well, Sir?

I haven’t lost a house, Mr. President.  I haven’t lost a job either.  And yes, my daughter and her friends will be driven by limousine to their Homecoming Dance.  And you can know that I thank God and this country every day that my wife and I were able to make that possible.

But, because of your policies I also know that no one in this country is economically safe, and no one will be safe for a long, long time.  Millions more will endure pain and suffering to a degree that should not be possible in this country.  And that’s your fault, Mr. President, not President Bush’s, or anyone before him.  You were given the ball, and it was yours to run with… but you ran the other way.

What shall we tell our children about that, Sir?  That you said you were a man of the people when you were riding around Iowa?  Do you think the people of Iowa knew what you’d do once in office, Mr. President?  Because I surely did not know, Sir, I surely did not know.

What shall we tell the children, Mr. President?  How can we tell them the truth?  How can we tell them we’ve lost faith in America… that our government has abandoned us… that we no longer feel like a nation whose government is of the people, for the people, and by the people?  That you failed us, Sir.

What shall we tell the children, Mr. President?


Mandelman out.

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