Monday, November 17, 2008

An open letter to President-Elect Obama

by Kelly Roache

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Two weeks after a fairly devastating electoral defeat, it would be easy for a staunch conservative like myself to take a combative approach to your administration, or worse yet, withdraw from politics all together for a couple of years. But as you said in your victory speech, you’re not just President of the people who agree with you: “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.” As you strive to uphold this, although I can’t promise not to speak out when I disagree with you, I will always search for and focus on our common ground. For instance, I can applaud your campaign’s dedication to making several key women’s issues a priority. It paid off: 56% of us voted for you. But I hope you’ll be just as concerned, if not more so, about those of us who supported your opponent, or even those who didn’t vote at all.

As you take on the responsibility of protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States, I hope that you will compromise with dissenters, but never sacrifice the promises that moved that 56% to your cause. Keep corporate taxes low so that female entrepreneurs can start small businesses and buck the tradition of underrepresentation in the business world. As we turn the page on our calendars from 11/11, please don’t ever neglect this country’s 1.7 million women veterans, and those returning home now. Protect us by strengthening laws and penalties for domestic violence and rape. Stand up for comprehensive sex education that gives an honest assessment of both abstinent and sexually active lifestyles, and especially the associated risks; promote a culture in which your daughters and 14-year-old girls everywhere won’t feel pressured or even encouraged to have sex. Above all, I ask that you keep an open mind, “especially,” as you said in your election night speech, “when we disagree.” I promise to do the same. Be receptive to novel arguments, such as that of pro-life feminism, and surround yourself with a symphony of motley opinions.

I hope that as President you will be eager to admit and rectify any missteps. For instance, as The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported during the election, your campaign paid women 83 cents to every dollar earned by male staffers; this amounted to an annual $9,000 pay-equity gap. Moreover, only one of your best-compensated advisors was female, and only seven of your top twenty (by the way, if you’re still looking for a Secretary of State, I might know a New York Senator who could help). I ask you to fulfill your promise to “promote paycheck equity and close the wage gap between women and men,” to practice what you preach. Irrespective of ideology, integrity is universally valued.

What you proved on the evening of November 4th was beyond doubt historic. But I implore you not to settle for a resounding chorus of “Yes We Did” until you have worked tirelessly to cultivate your promises from rhetoric to reality. I’ll be rooting for you.


Kelly Roache.


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