Yesterday I sent Barack Obama an email. Of course, I realize he doesn’t have time to read emails, but it did me good to organize my thoughts. The main reason was that it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks what a great choice Governor Bill Richardson would be for a vice presidential candidate. Here is most of the email:
Dear Senator Obama,
Hi! It’s me again, your new best friend. It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I was starting to think you wouldn’t need anymore amateur advice, but alas, you are floundering just a wee bit. So, here goes, in order of importance:
1. Pick Gov. Richardson as your running mate. Biden would be a BAD choice because (a) he’s a loose cannon; (b) picking him looks like you’re insecure about foreign policy experience; and (c) a lot of people dislike him (I like him fine.)
Richardson, is a GREAT pick because (1) he has boatloads of foreign policy experience; (2) he contributes in those poll-driven ways such as being a Catholic Hispanic from a Swing State; (3) he’s nice! People like him!; (4) choosing Richardson would be a surprise to everyone but you and me, and would fit the “new” image.
So, are we agreed? Richardson for your running mate.
2. Please don’t ever start another sentence with “Understand.” It is patronizing and lecture-y. Understand, I’m not trying to criticize you, but the pointing finger and the “understand” have to go.
3. McCain is really playing dirty with the lies, etc. Understand, (ha!) there is a difference between staying above the fray in terms of policy and being a passive doormat. Do something about him. I don’t know how, ask your strategists.
4. It bears repeating that nothing is gained by ignoring their attempts to “frame” the race or by whining about how they aren’t playing fair. What you have to do is challenge the underlying assumptions.
Example: “Obama is an elitist liberal.”
Underlying assumption = there is something wrong with being intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, and progressive. Unlike McCain and Bush, you clearly are not “elite” in the sense of being to the manor born.
Any “elitism” you have is based on your own God-given gifts and hard work. So, presto – “If getting a college education makes me elite, if being elected to the Senate makes me elite, then I’d like to promise every child in America the chance to join such an elite.” “If being liberal means extreme left-wing views, then no, but if being liberal means adopting policies that start and end with YOU the American people, then I’m proud to be that kind of liberal.”
Them – “Obama won’t admit the surge is working. Obama doesn’t want to win the war.”
You: “The Bush-McCain approach is to keep lowering and changing their definition of ‘victory’ rather than to define what our goals should be.”
“Talking about this quagmire in terms of win or lose is a simplistic approach. We aren’t fighting against a nation with a leader who can officially represent a country or who will one day officially announce a surrender. We’re fighting against shadowy insurgents and terrorists with no central leader and no real agenda except destruction. This war is not a footrace in the Olympics, with a single clear winner. We must take a more thoughtful approach.”
5. Finally, you have to find ways to summarize your specific plans in bite-sized ways that (unfortunately) don’t capture the particulars or the nuances. Sorry, but there are a lot of attention-challenged voters out there.
How about Americans Deserve Better, does that work?
All Americans deserve fairness and integrity in their government.
Every child deserves a great education.
Every American deserves health insurance – every single one.
Every serviceman deserves respect for their service and proper benefits when they come home.
Every American deserves clean air and water.
“I will make it harder for companies to go overseas; I will make it easier for them to stay here. I will make it easier to get retraining, and easier for companies to relocate in areas in economic difficulty.”
Okay, so I’m not a political writer! Thank you (or your staff) for taking the time to read this. I’m truly grateful that your campaign allows regular people to make suggestions.