Dear Honorable Senator and Presumptive GOP Presidential Nominee Mr. McCain:
Your recent speeches in New Hampshire and elsewhere show that you are totally immersed in honing your political fangs against your so-called ‘inexperienced’ Democrat challenger Mr. Barack Obama, on the issues of…let us see…
the terrorist threats, the terrorist threats, and more terrorists threats against our country, providing a virtual human shield towards the security of the state of Israel from the nuclear holocaust from Iran and making a firm mental resolve to attack Iran on January 20, 2009 (if Mr. Bush already hasn’t done so before that as the last noble presidential act towards saving humanity, as his tough talks during recent European tours indicate), Supreme Court’s ruling to grant greater rights to the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
With all due respect to your accomplishment in military conflicts and otherwise, there is an age difference of 25 years between you and your Democratic opponent. Logically, that also translates into a huge gulf of ideas and level of understanding of the world we know and live in today. At times your jabs at his youthfulness which you equate to ‘inexperience’, brings forth the disadvantage your advanced age has in understanding today’s complex yet greatly shrunk world. Whereas your solution to political differences with hostile governments around the globe always seems to hinge on imposition of ill-conceived sanctions and use of military coercion, Mr. Obama rightly proposes to employ a more humane approach, which you label as a sign of cowardice and submission. While you or your GOP comrades might not agree, the undeniable truth is this: a majority of the country is tired of wars and talks of more war.
As one listens to your speeches objectively, watches your body language as you respond to various issues of importance to the American public during this historic election, or dissects your recent TV ad, many interesting and yet disturbing patterns emerge.
On one hand, it is amply evident that you want American public to believe that your military qualification and career, the Vietnam War and your POW status are the only strands of a holy magic wand that we need right now to attain the lost American glory. Should we feel a deep sense of admiration, patriotism or be filled with a rapacious fear of impending attack by some Islamic terrorists, one wonders?
On the other hand, it has become quite clear that the sliding economy, the looming recession, the deepening mortgage crisis, the record high and ever-increasing home foreclosures, the soaring gas and food prices, the burgeoning national debt and the murderous collapse of the once-proud middle class across the American heartland, are not even 71 miles below the surface of your radar.
Let me ask you something. When was the last time you read a book? We understand, you are on a campaign trail, so you don’t have much time to indulge in reading. Here is my pick for you for a quick reading in the comfort of your air-conditioned campaign bus.
It is called, “The Collapse of the Middle Class – Letters from Vermont and America.” It is only 15 pages long, so it wouldn’t take much of your time. It is a compilation of a few letters by none other than a colleague of yours, the honorable US senator Bernard Sanders (independent) from Vermont, who has asked his constituents in an e-mail to tell him what was going on in their lives economically during these hard times. He received 600 responses, all of them heart-wrenching. It is easily downloadable from the internet (http://www.sanders.senate.gov/files/middle-class-booklet%20.pdf). Here is a sample of what the booklet contains:
“We have at times had to choose between baby food and heating fuel.”
“By February we ran out of wood and I burned my mother’s dining room furniture.”
“Not spending those ten hours at home with my husband and son makes a big difference.”
“I want to drop everything I am doing and go visit him.”
“We also only eat two meals a day to conserve.”
“My husband and I are very nervous about what will happen to us when we are old.”
“The pennies have all but dried up….Today I am sad, broken, and very discouraged.”
“I don’t go to church many Sundays, because the gasoline is too expensive to drive there.”
“Now we find that instead of a feeling of comfort, we have a feeling of dread.”
“Some nights we eat cereal and toast for dinner because that’s all I have.”
“I feel as though I am between a rock and a hard place no matter how hard I try.”
“We would like to not have to worry about where our next meal will come from.”
“My husband and I followed all the rules…. Slowly, though, we have sunk back to the ‘poor’ days.”
“I am now living out of my car.”
“Our life style has drastically changed in the past 12 months.”
“My mortgage is behind, we are at risk for foreclosure, and I can’t keep up with my car payments.”
“We are barely staying afloat.”
“I wonder some times if we should try to follow our dreams – decide to have children?”
“Does anybody have a solution? Does anybody in Washington care?”
Senator McCain, as you can imagine, this is only a snippet of what has happened to the lives of millions of honest and God-conscious fellow Americans who wish to have nothing more than a decent job and livelihood to raise and care for their families and leave a rich legacy that is so typical a hallmark of American dreams: the pursuit of which brings immigrant like me to this beautiful land, and within a week lets me forget where I came from and become a part of this soil as if I never was an alien.
Media is abuzz with your suggestion to Barack Obama for a series of town hall-style meetings – one suspects more to show who is a real maverick than anything else. If you read this tiny booklet, you might change your mind and hence the opponent: you might dare to face the Americans of this booklet for an honest debate as to how to take America in a new direction, away from the silhouette of your Vietnam days or from the painful shadows of Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. You know more than anybody else that from times unknown, wars have never resolved a thing. You also know more than anybody else that fear-mongering has always been the prelude to war: The presumptive ‘cold war’ was nothing but a very calculatedly spread pall of fear and the world lived under it for almost half a century, fearing nothing but the fear itself.
Arguably, waving the Islamic Terrorism placard might win someone again the presidency for 4 years. But imagine where the rest of the world would be in the next 4 years while we will still be cowering under the fear of an unknown bloated-out-of-proportion mythical Hydra? China and India are clamoring for world dominance, have already made noticeable headway and undoubtedly the first quarter of this century will belong to these two giants.
We have come a long way since the fateful day of 9/11 and honestly in the past 7 years, the placard of Islamic Terrorism has already yellowed out and become soiled. To understand that all you need to do is to look at the political fate of Rudolph Giuliani – once hailed as an invincible GOP presidential contender. His precipitous fall and ignominious exit leading to the ultimate political demise reminds one of the ill-fated but famed Barbaros of the Kentucky Derby. We all remember that poor equine, don’t we?
On October 15, 2005 as I was driving in the morning to work, I heard your monologue on NPR’s This I believe series. You said: “I have believed that the means to real happiness and the true worth of a person is measured by how faithfully we serve a cause greater than our self-interest. In America, we celebrate the virtues of the quiet hero – the modest man who does his duty without complaint or expectation of praise; the man who listens closely for the call of his country, and when she calls, he answers without reservation, not for fame or reward, but for love.” I was mesmerized by the sincerity of your words, then.
I also heard this of the 33rd president of the United States of America, Harry Truman, recorded in 1955: “I believe a man in public life must think always of the public welfare. He must be careful not to mix his private and personal interests with his public actions. I believe that to inspire the people of the world whose freedom is in jeopardy, and to restore hope to those who have already lost their civil liberties, we must correct the remaining imperfections in our own democracy. We know the way – we only need the will.”
When I put these two together, I find a different John McCain in that TV ad of today, and I wonder, what consumes you now: the patriotism and urge to serve America only through more bloody conflicts at the expense of dreams of the middle class folks in Senator Sanders’ booklet or, an honest flame to restore the respect we have lost on the global stage in the past six years by engaging in deceptive wars?
This is what I believe: this election would be historic in the sense that it would change the meaning of patriotism. Patriotism comes in various shades and colors: unfortunately, ignorance or protectionism is not one of them.