July 24, 2012

Letter to my President

Dear President Obama,

I went to register to vote the day I turned 18. It took two busses and a half-hour walk to get there, but I was so excited to be a part of the democratic process that I went on the very first day. Since then, I’ve voted in every national election (except for one primary – it’s a very complicated story) and most of the local ones. And every single time for the past 21 years, I’ve voted exclusively for the Democratic ticket.

Four years ago, come November, I took my eldest son into the voting booth with me.  I explained to him how important it was that we vote for you because you cared about getting things right in this country and because you would protect our planet.  Three-and-a-half years ago, I sat in the lobby of our preschool, where the director had set up a TV because drop-off was at 9 AM, and no one wanted to miss your inauguration. I had my infant daughter in my arms and my two sons on either side of me.  “This is important,” I whispered to them. “This is the President who is going to make sure the planet stays healthy so that when you grow up, you’ll have clean air and water.”

In other words, I’m your base. I’m your core voter. I’m the one you don’t have to worry about, because I’ll always be there for you.

And now I’m considering voting for a third-party candidate.

Unlike so many others, I don’t blame you for the economy. I think you’ve done as well as you could, given the horrific mess you inherited. I am impressed with much of what you’ve done: getting rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; foreign policy; and the Affordable Care Act. But, frankly, none of that matters if our planet becomes increasingly uninhabitable.

Scientists are predicting large swaths of the East Coast will be under water within our children’s lifetimes. Weather patterns and events have become frighteningly extreme. There’s a continent of plastic in the ocean, and we keep adding more.

While I’m delighted that you set strict limits on automobile emissions, you’ve not done nearly enough. You are the President of the United States. If anyone is in a position to make a difference, it’s you. If there’s any single person who can turn around the future of the human race, it’s you. It’s not an easy job, but it’s the one you asked for.

Fifty years from now, when whole populations are starving, people are fighting in the streets over water, the air is too poisonous to breathe, and we’ve run out of places to put our garbage, your daughters will be holding their grandbabies. Will they whisper to them, “My father could have done something about all of this?”

I want my children to tell their grandchildren that I did everything I could. Not just that I walked gently upon the earth, but that I spoke up. And the strongest voice I have is my vote.  So, come November, when I take all three of my children into the voting booth with me, who am I going to show them I’m voting for? The man they see as a hero or someone else?

It’s up to you to convince me by November, not with speeches and promises, but with action. Whether you get re-elected or not, make our planet the legacy you leave our children.


Emily Rosenbaum

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1 Comment

  • Reply WendyElissa July 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    So this made cry. The only problem with voting for a third party candidate is that that candidate will not win. And taking your vote away from Obama means one more vote for Mitt Romney. And having Romney for a president will only hurt the environment more.

    Does the fate of the world bother you several times day as it does me? It make me sad every day and I try to ignore that sadness but it is hard when my children don’t want to play outside in the summer because it is too hot, and when everybody’s grass is brown and everywhere I look dire predictions are being made. I have always told myself not to take my own good health for granted, but it never occurred to me not to take the earth’s health for granted. I never appreciated those cold winter days of years past of negative 35 degrees with the wind chill. If they come back this winter I will go outside and enjoy it.

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