Letter to SantaOkay, not really.
Can I call you Barack? I mean, you've been emailing me for months now, and while I am hardly your most generous campaign donor, I do have a sign in my window, which has to create a certain intimacy, right? I mean, technically, you're kind of on the porch, rather than in the house, but all my previous candidates have had to live outside on the lawn, where they were frequently the targets of bored teenagers and, apparently, some sort of low-flying domestic eggs that live around here. So really, I think I've made some strides toward cementing our relationship. I know, I still take Hillary's calls; she's so damned persistent, and even when I don't like what she's saying, I have to say that I have been generally impressed by her during this campaign: her tenacity, her articulateness, her utter indefatigability, her poise...pretty much everything except her husband, her forays into race-baiting and--oh yes--her actual policies. Did I ever tell you than my husband and his dad once won "Most Indefatigable" in a sailing race? According to my husband, his father was mortified by that--it being, of course, far, far better to win or lose than to be honored for not knowing the difference.
I know, I'm off topic. My students tell me that all the time. Deal with it. And by the way, I don't ever write Hillary back; it's just that I feel bad shutting her completely out of my life. I feel bad when I see her being all brave and noble and articulate on TV in places like West Virginia. I feel really bad that she seems to feel she has already earned the nomination, and how she can't seem to let go of where she thought she was--a shoo-in--before you appeared on the scene. Let me be clear: I feel bad for her personally, which is not at all the same as feeling bad that she appears spectacularly unlikely--barring corruption and backdoor-politicking that would make even a Karl Rove blush--to win the nomination. I feel bad that the next time she and Bill fight, he gets to do the "nyah, nyah, nyah--I was president and you're not!"
Anyway, Barack, can I just ask you, now that you appear likely to be the nominee, to please not blow it? I support you because I think you are strong, amazingly articulate, and smart enough not to blow it, but we Democrats, you know, have been burned so much. Everyone wants to concentrate on "the race thing," but I think that's less of a threat, ultimately, than the ease with which the other side is going to paint you as a (gulp) intellectual, an elitist. Now you need to be folksy, without allowing them too easily to dismiss you as "too fake" (Al Gore in his plaid shirt) or "too [black]-folks-y," which is offensive, I know, but sadly true. I think you can do it; you are one of the first genuinely public voices to find even a rhetorical way out of the racial shark tank we have created for ourselves. I hope you are holed up somewhere, even now, trying to find a way to appeal to those "white, blue-collar" voters (does that make them pastel?) Hillary's been gunning for. Figuring out whom you can add to the ticket without playing too readily into the Republican strategy. Someone like John Edwards, who seems to me to be the only candidate (okay, barring Kucinich) who really cares about the effects of our incredible and growing income/opportunity/safety-net/culture gap in this country, and how our alienation could kill democracy. Or some other female politician--sorry I can't name any at the moment--who can affect a drawl or a twang with some sincerity, while drawing out those feminists who so rejoiced in Hillary's successes.
Please, Barack. We're counting on you.
Labels: politics: a dangerous game