Dear Barack Obama, Will You Please Help Us?

Dear Barack Obama,

As I sat down to write you today, it occurred to me that being President is a thankless task.

When you do something well, it is overlooked.

When you make a mistake, it is amplified.

Eight years ago, I dragged my children to stand in line on a cold and rainy Indiana day, so we could vote for you as a family.

They were so little at the time.

Chloe was 6 and Dravin 11.

I wanted them to experience this moment with me, because you were the first candidate in my lifetime that actually made me excited to vote.

I felt like you were going to be a legendary president and I wanted my children to be part of that.

I explained to my babies that “a long line was good for us, because it meant that Americans were standing up for hope and change.”

As I walked into the voting booth, I was surprised at how emotional I became.

I teared up as I filled in the little bubble next to your name.

Barack Obama was going to be my president.

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I think your presidency must have been one of the more difficult presidencies in our country’s history.

You faced opposition from all sides and dealt with a House that attempted to block everything you tried to do.

Yet somehow you managed to stop Keystone XL and pass the Affordable Care Act, which for all of its flaws, was a major step forward for millions of Americans.

I have not agreed with you on everything.

I radically opposed TPP and I was extremely disappointed that you did not speak up for the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

I read your book and loved your honesty, when you admitted that taking corporate money had negatively affected your presidency.

So you can imagine how disappointed I was when you endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

But I do not write you today to tell you about all the ways in which I agree or disagree with you.

I know you get more than your fair share of critics and detractors.

I know that all great leaders must make tough decisions and that people who are on the outside cannot understand the intricacies of these hard choices.

Even though my politics might fall far to the left of yours, I have defended you consistently and I believe that you are a good man.

I even voted for you again in 2012, because I still believed that you were our best shot at hope and change.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for caring and for doing your best.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown and with great audacity, I ask of you a favor before you leave office, one last swipe of your pen to remind the great people of America that there is still hope, even in the darkest of times.

The good guys really need a victory right now.

And I know you are one of the good guys, so I’m calling on your help.

I’m asking you to declare Standing Rock a federal monument.

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By declaring Standing Rock a federal monument you will stop the senseless violence against our Indigenous sisters and brothers and secure your legacy as a president who stood for hope and change.

I understand that corporations are powerful forces, but right now, you are even more powerful.

We can no longer “wait and see how this plays out.”

This is about more than just legalities.

This is much bigger.

It became bigger the moment that attack dogs and rubber bullets were brought in to assault these peace-loving people.

It became bigger when we watched the absolute brutality of our own government spraying freezing water on these good people.

Have the Native American people not suffered enough at the hands of this occupying force of which you are currently the leader?

After centuries of unmitigated rape of their culture, can we please, just this once, side with the people who rightfully own the land?

On behalf of our brethren in North Dakota, I can tell you that we will not back down, because our cause is just and at some point the American people MUST take a stand.

The winter will be long and difficult, but our numbers will grow.

My wife and children have asked me not to go, but I cannot, in good conscience stand by and allow innocent people to be treated with such aggression.

I believe, with all my heart, that the pen is mightier than the sword, so I ask you to look inside yourself and put an end to this atrocity.

I know you are a good man.

I know that you are losing sleep thinking about this situation, along with a hundred others.

You, Mr President, are our last hope.

If you do not intervene then I fear that this will ultimately result in the deaths of many good people.

Perhaps of equal import, is that we need to know that you hear us and that you are on our side, because in a few months someone will be sitting in your chair who is not on our side.

The American People need to know that our voices matter.

The American People need to know that our government still represents us, because the level of cynicism and despair is palpable right now, Mr President.

I’m asking you to make one more difficult choice before you leave office.

I’m asking you to make Standing Rock your legacy.

I’m asking you to declare Standing Rock a federal monument.

From one father to another, I want to be able to look my kids in the eye and remind them of the time we stood in the rain for over an hour, because we believed that you were truly on our side.

I still believe that you are.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service.

Sincerely,

Just One Voter

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Michael E Sparks is a father and a freelance writer. If you would like to support his work, you can click HERE to donate $1. But more importantly, please send donations to Standing Rock to help the brave water protectors with provisions for the upcoming winter.

 

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Safety-Pins and Rubber Bullets

I threw a party Saturday night.

A lot of people showed up late, because they were at my city’s anti-Trump rally.

I did not attend, as much as I dislike Donald Trump.

I’m more of a proactive guy, rather than a reactive guy.

I had already spent the last 18 months of my life protesting Donald Trump by doing everything in my power to get Bernie Sanders elected, so I didn’t see the point in crying about it now.

Instead I threw a Thank God This Fucking Election Is Over party and we imbibed alcohol from various lands and talked about what we could do to make the world a better place, despite our recent catastrophic election.

One lady said that she had been creating care packages for the homeless and was just keeping them in her car and passing them out to people who needed them.

Another lady said that she was working on creating an activist website.

Another guest was convinced that the Green Party was the answer.

I passed out Bernie Sanders buttons along with the challenge that people wear the buttons everyday, as a reminder to people who might be afraid, that they had allies.

“Bernie Sanders has superseded politics and is now a symbol of love and equality” I reasoned aloud.

Everyone liked the idea or maybe they just liked the idea of getting free Bernie buttons.

Regardless, everyone took a bunch and everyone put one on.

Then the safety-pin people showed up.

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The safety-pin people had just come from protesting Donald Trump and told us that by wearing a safety-pin we could signal people who felt fear of violence and discrimination that we were a safe person.

“Oh, just like my Bernie button idea!” I said.

“No.” they said “This movement involves wearing safety pins.”

“Oh, like the paperclip resistance of Nazis during WW2!” I said.

They all looked at me like I was crazy.

No one had ever heard of that.

Someone produced a box of safety pins and soon everyone was wearing them, strutting around, feeling good about themselves for defending the downtrodden..

“So what happens when bad people wear safety-pins to trick people into letting their guards down and becoming victims?”, I asked.

“Oh Mike!!” one girl said “Don’t say things like that!!”

I had sucked the air out of the room.

They didn’t want to worry about things possible complications.

They wanted to wear their safety pins and feel good.

I could hear the sound of a thousand corporate think-tanks conspiring on ideas to make millions from this new trend.

“Don’t be outdone by your liberal suburban friends. Our fair-trade safety pins are all organic and help get clean water to aboriginal tribes in developing nations. These safety-pins are just $49.95 each and symbolize to the world that you are much more compassionate than the people who wear the competitor’s safety-pins.”

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As much as it smacks of the worst parts of white-guilt liberalism, I honestly don’t have a problem with the safety-pin.

Although I’m confident if we researched the origins of the safety-pins passed out at anti-Trump rallies across America, we would probably find they were ironically created in Chinese sweatshops by eight-year olds.

Still I know the wearer means well.

And it’s important to not underestimate the sacrifice these protesters are making.

After all, when a Hillary supporter pierces a safety-pin through their $250 Aeropostale sweater it’s a greater sacrifice than when I do it, in my ratty $2 thrift-store t-shirt.

Not to say that everyone who protested also voted for Hillary.

More than half of the protesters arrested at many anti-Trump rallies didn’t even bother to vote.

If only there had been something they could have done BEFORE the election to stop the government from falling under alt-right control.

If only there had been a candidate who actually beat Trump by 18-24% in head to head polls, that they could have rallied around when they had the chance.

If only there had been a candidate that could have kept Trump out of The White House, who had a longstanding record of defending the LBGT community and a perfect animal rights record.

If only there had been someone who had spent their entire life fighting for civil rights.

If only there had been some other option besides Hillary Clinton, then maybe all of these Trump protesters would have been getting drunk with me by my bonfire instead of waiting until AFTER THE FACT and then protesting A DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT!!!

If only there had been someone like that, then all of this silliness could have been avoided.

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But I guess these protesters were probably pretty busy during the last 18 months, when there was a clear and present danger rising in our nation.

They probably didn’t have time to worry about such things as universal healthcare and ending mass incarceration and a for-profit prison industry that funds the wealthy elite.

Who can be troubled to vote when there are book clubs and youth “everybody wins” soccer games to attend.

Why volunteer for a crowd-funded candidate when it is “her time”.

Why bother working hard when your candidate is simply “more electable”?

Just be “with her” and ignore the “basement dwellers” screaming about the giant orange iceberg protruding through the fog.

After all, a safety-pin on your NPR tote bag just means so much to the 20 million people who will now lose their health insurance.

Everyone knows that a safety-pin clipped to a Whole Foods bag will be more than enough to offset the tens of thousands of elderly who will die as a result of the GOP gutting Social Security.

In the light of Trump’s alt-right Supreme Court justices and the threat they will pose to Roe v. Wade, perhaps we should all wear tiny coat-hangers instead.

Too soon?

Okay, we will stick to safety pins (get it? stick?!?).

I’ll take Symbolic Gestures That Don’t Mean Shit for $500, Alex.

In the event of a crash, your safety-pin can be used a flotation device.

You’ll still sink and die.

But at least you’ll feel extremely good about yourself while drowning.

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All kidding aside, I hold no grudge against the safety-pin movement.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself, as long as you actually take action and really stand up for equality.

I don’t begrudge anyone grandstanding for minorities, as long as they are willing to actually engage in true activism.

It bothers me that people can show up and protest Trump’s DEMOCRATIC election over a candidate who needed $uper-delegates to “win”, when the people of Standing Rock are fighting for their basic human right to water.

Why don’t these protesters show up in North Dakota and stare down the armored police?

Perhaps it’s easier to complain and wear pins than it is to stare down rubber bullets and attack dogs.

Still, there is nothing saying that we can’t do both, so when I see my friends wearing safety-pins, I will congratulate them on their commitment to activism and ask them what they are working on at the time.

I will probably even help them with whatever initiative they are working for and hope the next time we have the chance to vote for an honest candidate who actually cares about the American people, we don’t bury our heads in the sand and support a corrupt corporatist who has taken money from for-profit prison lobbyists and stood on the broken backs of the very minorities we are suddenly so concerned for.

Because when you don’t vote or you support an inferior candidate based on gender, then your safety-pin becomes the liberal equivalent of Republican “thoughts and prayers”.

I choose to believe that my safety-pin friends are awake now and ready to fight against any and all oppression that may come our way.

I choose to believe that America is awake now.

And I really hope that we are.

I’d really hate to see a bunch of people running around in 2020 wearing staples on their clothes.

Or an actual stapler..

Or a three-hole punch..

Or any other office supplies, for that matter.

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When Michael isn’t dressing silly and attending Planned Parenthood rallies with his daughter, he is an independent writer. You can support his work by clicking HERE and donating $1!!