Open letter to the American people

My Fellow Americans,

In a very short time, you will be given the chance to exercise one of the greatest and gravest responsibilities for citizens of the world’s most successful democracy. On that day, you will be choosing between two candidates, both tireless public servants whose personal stories show our nation’s ability to nurture the success of people who have had diverse and remarkable personal journeys.

As often happens during a heated campaign, there has been some divisive rhetoric and appeals to some of our baser natures. I wish to make it perfectly clear that at a time when our nation engages in its 44th peaceful transition of executive power, in a time of economic uncertainty and international instability, our nation cannot afford to appeal to our lowest common denominator. In a few months, one of us will sit in the Oval Office and be the chief executive of all Americans. If my journey to this seat of power requires me to appeal to our deepest fears, to mine our deepest prejudices, I do not want your vote.

If you vote for me to show your hate of someone else, I do not want your vote.

If you vote for me to show your hate of another group, another religion, another race, I do not want your vote.

I want your vote because you think that my ideas are better. I want your vote because you agree with my vision for our nation. I want your vote because of your confidence in me to lead us through these difficult times.

I want your vote if you are a Christian. I want your vote if you are a Jew. I want your vote if you are a Muslim. I want your vote if you are not religious. But I don’t want your vote if you are voting against a particular religion or culture.

As the personal histories of both of us show, there are many ways to serve. You can organize your neighborhoods to reduce violence and poverty and home. You can defend your country as a member of the military. You can even, from humble beginnings, become a Senator and help make the laws that keep our country great.

My fellow Americans, in a very few days you will engage in a very simple, yet vital act. You will elevate one of us to a position of great power and great responsibility. I encourage you all to look at our words, our deeds, and those of our surrogates. If you believe in what I stand for, vote for me. If you do not, vote for my opponent. But vote you must, as it is your sacred duty as an American. Do not vote for the man you fear least, but the one who can lead you best. I hope and believe that that man is me, but I respect your choice, as an American, to disagree.


Your candidate


  1. Make sure you see the Colin Powell interview on MEET THE PRESS today. It will be very clear whose name belongs at the bottom of that letter and whose signature on it would be utterly dishonest. It’s not that John McCain is personally a racist, but rather that he sold out his integrity to those who play on the fears and ignorance and, yes, racism of that segment of our populace who are susceptible to such ploys. Luckily, it appears that this year, that’s considerably fewer than a plurality.

  2. I don’t know if you meant to channel Colin Powell, but yore doing it rite!

    + Amen.

  3. The Blind Watchmaker

    Can I write you in?

  4. Do not vote for the man you fear least, but the one who can lead you best.

    But he/she’s not running. I’m happier with the choices this year than those of four or eight years ago, but I’m not perfectly confident in either candidate.

  5. Nice piece, but a comment re the phrase

    “*sacred* duty as an American”

    Coming as I do from a non US (Brit/Australian)culture, I find the conflation of piety with patriotism frightening, yet unfortunately typical of US political statements.

    I would like to know what was in your mind when you wrote it, and whether it even pops out as scary to US readers.


  6. That thought explicitly crossed my mind when I wrote this. There is a concept of “American scripture” where our national “religion” is American constitutional democracy, with our sacred texts being the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Federalist Papers, etc.

    This concept is perhaps not a conscious one for most, but it certainly informs our national psyche. Of course, religious language and imagery haunts/infests American discourse, but in this case, “sacred” can be seen as less of a religious term than a “religious-y” term.

  7. Thanks Pal.
    And so can you tell me, does this “religiousy” language and its’ accompanying subtext (that God is American, whereas I know for sure s/he’s English!) don’t you find it a bit scary? As someone brought up in US culture, perhaps it seems normal to you? I can say this, because until I had left UK behind for a few years I couldn’t see how small and strange the English culture is, with its’ conviction that the British way is the correct way.(But God only supports the Anglicans, so carrying a British passport isn’t quite enough 😉

    Because of the recent tack the US has taken with suspension of the Geneva conventions, (Guatanamo etc) and the readiness to invade which it has shown lately, I am quite anxious about this concept of “American Scripture”. To me the message sent is “America’s Way is God’s Way”. I think it is a thought-stopper, which prevents people from questioning the status quo. I remember a speech made by ?Reagan? when he talked about the US as “this wonderful country given to us by God” – when, just like Australia, the US was wrested by force from the hands of the original inhabitants.

    Anyway, I guess this is off topic. Whoever is elected, I hope that they use their power and personality to bring back dialogue and peace between nations.


  8. Anonymous

    I think Di is missing the point, though I can understand why the idea might be confusing. The idea of a ‘sacred’ American duty isn’t meant to imply that God must be American, or that our way is His way (or vice versa). It simply means that all Americans should maintain in their heart some degree of reverence and love for the principles and ideals on which this nation was founded. This isn’t the blind patriotism that admits no wrong and defines morality as “whatever’s good for us.” Rather, it’s an openness of mind that recognizes a continuous duty on all our parts to aspire to the values espoused by our founding fathers: liberty, justice, and freedom for all. Insofar as that voting exercises our personal democratic power (and fulfills one of the duties of a citizen), it’s a deeply important, maybe even sacred act.

    So in short, the conflation with religion is unfortunate and confusing, but it’s less about mindless dogmatic jingoism and more about deep commitment to ideals.

  9. Ah, OK. Thanks, Anonymous!

  10. We have just had our elections north of the border. I would like to say I agree with the sentiment your post expresses to the degree that you would have one vote for a positive reason as opposed to a negative one. As a free man in a free country I have the same ‘sacred duty’ to vote. And I have. Yet again, I have chosen … D. None of the above. As a free man I have voted not to endorse someone because they are the least of evils. I have chosen not to vote as a strategic vote. I have chosen not to vote because I do not like the other candidates. I have voted by not voting and this plays just as big a part in the game this has become. It is noted in the newspapers how many people do not choose to vote and editorials fill the papers as to the how comes and the why’s. This is my ‘why’: For me to endorse someone, to vote for them and say by doing so that I believe in them, is highly important to me. I am sick and tired of the lies and broken promises. And from where I stand no one politician has really impressed me as being any more honest than any other. As a Canadian watching your politics I am thinking I may have voted for Obama. As a Canadian watching my own politics I can only cringe in disgust.


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