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Citizen Voices

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Congratulations on being named the next president of the United States. Yours was a well-run campaign, aided by the help of countless passionate supporters. You successfully captured the heart of the American people, currently so eager for the change and hope that they believe you can bring. You have already brought about one change: you will go down in history books as our first African-American president. It is yet to be seen what other changes will come with an Obama administration.

To that end, in spite of a long campaign in which you fought hard to reach the White House, the real challenge will begin in January when you take office. You have a healthy ego right now; this is understandable given your incredible victory. But despite becoming (arguably) the most powerful man in the world, yours is a position that requires the humility of service. You will be the ultimate representative; not representing a district or a state, but representing and serving an entire nation. With great power comes great responsibility, and you have a responsibility not only to your supporters and those of like minds, but also to the (nearly) half of the country that was not convinced. There are blue skies over my home state and yours, but a great part of this nation remains bathed in red.

Matthew C. Scallon
November 05, 2008 at 05:51 PM
Congratulations, President-elect Obama for becoming the first anti-life African-American to be elected president. Hopefully, one day, a pro-life African-American will be elected president to undo the damage you will do over the next four years. Hey, I'm sorry, but I know what my fellow Democrats have said about us pro-lifers. In the words of the Dixie Chicks, I'm not ready to make nice.



Jessica Jondle
November 05, 2008 at 07:47 PM
Matt, I know he's not from your party, but I've always held a lot of respect for Alan Keyes. (One can dream.) In all seriousness, though, I will never forget Obama's statement that if his girls make a "mistake", he would not want them "punished" with a baby. (Or an STD, mentioned in the same breath.) I don't know how a baby can be seen as punishment, especially with so many waiting to adopt. It would be fantastic to see Obama include a pro-life Democrat in his Cabinet. It would demonstrate post-partisanship without even giving something up to the opposing party! (Again, one can dream.)

Niamh from Mission Hills
November 05, 2008 at 07:58 PM
Dear Ms. Jondle, As an Obama supporter all the way, I find there to be some great cynicism behind your "respect and congratulations." I'm sure you watched your candidate's concession speech in which he said, "I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited." I thought that to be a powerful and inspiring statement to those of the Red vote and I hope that those of you who voted Red won't be so skeptical and huffy about Mr. Obama as our President. Ms. Jondle, you stated, "You have a healthy ego right now; this is understandable given your incredible victory. But despite becoming (arguably) the most powerful man in the world, yours is a position that requires the humility of service..." Throughout this campaign, Mr. Obama has continued to encourage the bridging of divide between parties. As he said in his acceptance speech , "So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain... ...is part of America's promise, the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort." I think your statement about Mr. Obama's ego is a little misguided given he is a man with plans for change for the greater good and a man who worked his way into this position and a man who did not do it for himself and his ego, he did it for you, me, us, WE the people. It was made clear when he stated in his victory speech , "But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you." It's not the first time (or the last) that Mr. Obama will voice his fight for you, me, us, WE the people. I do realize (as I hope everyone does) that Mr. Obama is walking into a boatload of @#$! and it would take a miracle from ANY party to completely clean up the great debacle of a White House that currently governs. It is unfair to hold ANY candidate responsible for the ultimate clean-up. However, I do believe that Mr. Obama will take and make HUGE progress toward a better, more unified and efficient government. I hope that you find a way to approach things that you dislike in his office with a position of thought invoking open-mindedness. I hope you stand with me in the belief that if we want to see change happen, we must start right here at home. I hope that those disagreeing with the opposite party do not lose sight of the positive message, "YES, WE CAN." My parents always stressed, never say "I can't" or you'll never get anywhere. Yes, I can (and do) believe in hope and change. Yes, I can (and do) believe that this is a step toward a more positive future for you, me, us, WE the people. All the best, Niamh

Niamh
November 05, 2008 at 08:01 PM
PS for good measure (and a laugh)... I think THIS MAN takes the cake as being the most powerful man in the world.

Jessica Jondle
November 05, 2008 at 08:53 PM
Niamh, It actually does sadden me to hear that my post came across as cynical, because I do wish the man the best - after all, he will be my leader too. The president deserves all the respect that comes with the office, and my congratulations, as well as my desire to see him fulfill his promises for post-partisanship, are sincere. I would never wish ill will to him or our country, as I mentioned. He has my respect although his policies of course will not be beyond my criticism, just as our current president's policies are not beyond citizen criticism. Obama hasn't yet proven what his presidential policies will be. It is my sincere hope that he does well by his country. I did, in fact, tell a friend yesterday that although I did not vote for him, I can see how good can come out of it: our reputation in the world could greatly improve. The comment about his ego came directly from a statement in which he told USA Today that he has a "heatlhy ego" at the moment and I was sincere in my evaluation that that is to be expected. I stand by my statement that a president should govern humbly, serving the people, but I certainly did not suggest that Obama would be incapable of that. We are all waiting to see what kind of president he will be, myself included. I was neither huffy nor bitter upon viewing the results last night; my candidate did not win but I do not wish to be (or come across as) a sore loser. This forum is far more limited than a face-to-face conversation. In this election, among family members and friends, I have wanted to be a peacemaker and have acted out of that desire. No, I don't agree with many of the things that Obama has done or many of the positions that he holds. But there are a great many people who do, and it would be foolish for me to dismiss them and reject Obama as "my president". He will be my president, and I simply wanted to offer some advice that I would give him, were I to have the opportunity. While my own intelligence has been questioned in this election, I would never question someone else's because I believe that everyone with a strong and well-articulated political opinion has put a lot of thought into their views. Obama is an intelligent man, and really overcame a lot (including, yes, a lot that I did not like) in order to achieve victory. Thank you for your comments. I will have to reevaluate my writing in the future, particularly in public forums, with the knowledge that I come across in ways never intended or felt. It is helpful to be made aware of it. Reading my post again, I do not see the cynicism, but that is perhaps because I am its author and I know it was not written with that emotion. Best, Jessica

aaryn b. from Elation
November 05, 2008 at 09:05 PM
Ah, we see what we want to see, don't we? It is my humble opinion that, if you think Obama lacks humility or has no record of bipartisanship, you haven't been paying attention. I suggest you watch the two-hour Frontline special that looked at both candidates and pay particular attention to the time Obama was elected president of The Harvard Review if you want evidence of how Obama will govern. You may watch it here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/choice2008/. In addition, you could also stand to learn about the realities of adoption and exactly which children the "so many [people] waiting to adopt" are waiting for. I really wish you pro-lifers who talk so blithely about adoption would educate yourselves about the complexities of it before you throw it around as the ultimate *duh!* solution for Every Woman. If you're interested, you can learn a whole lot at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/index.php) and then speak with some concrete knowledge on the topic. While pro-lifers work to take away a woman's legal right to choose (which is now further from your collective gnarled grasp than it was yesterday, given the likelihood of multiple SC nominations over the next four years!), how about putting just a little bit of that energy and money into demanding an overhaul to our country's foster care system, which is FILLED with waiting children, a disproportionate number of whom are black. Children who, according to your comment above, are apparently being anxiously waited for. In fact, these children are so desired, that of roughly 500,000 kids in the system in 2007, a whopping 51,000 were adopted (not terribly convincing numbers, huh?). Or how about lobbying congress to make adoption accessible and affordable so that it would be a more highly successful option among the all the choices women have? Jessica, this letter of "congratulations" reads as though it was written with clenched teeth. You perpetuate the ugliness from the right by pretending to be gracious while lacing your words with contempt and spite. I think being straight forward with your distaste would be more honorable than back-handed compliments.

aaryn b. from Elation
November 05, 2008 at 09:11 PM
P.S. I was writing the above comment before you posted your response to Niamh You may not have intended it but your words came across as less than kind.

Jessica Jondle
November 05, 2008 at 09:27 PM
Aaryn, My husband and both of his brothers were adopted as infants, their biological mothers being young women making the difficult decision to follow through with their pregnancies. My husband and his brothers are blessings to their parents, who did wait for several months in each instance. The system is indeed complex. I don't know what else to say for myself, or why I am on the defensive except that it hurts. I was not clenching my teeth as I wrote. That is not me. Best, Jessica

Jim from San Diego
November 05, 2008 at 10:01 PM
Yesterday was a mixed blessing for me. I was very happy for America and for African-Americans especially and for my own nephews that a black man was elected president of the United States. At the same time I was deeply saddened by a vote on Proposition 8 that told me that I was not accepted and not equal. I felt personally rejected by the state that I live in. I felt the weight of a mass of people that dislike me, fear me, and wish I wasn't around. I can only imagine that's how black people feel on a daily basis as white people look at them with fear or instant judgment. It took a vote for me to feel that same slap in the face. I'm very happy that Obama's presidency and the visibility of his family may go a long way in lifting this instant judgment, fear, and misunderstanding for African-Americans and other people of color. But while that great step forward was taken a giant step backward was taken for homosexuals. While one hand giveth, the other taketh away.

aaryn b. from Elation
November 05, 2008 at 10:26 PM
Jessica, Both of my mother's sisters were adopted and I am an adoptive parent, so I get my hackles up when adoption is brought up in discussion that pertains to limiting a woman's right to choose what she deems is best. Of course it is an important option but it's generally mentioned without much understanding of how adoption works (or doesn't work). I mean, it's not like a woman with an unwanted pregnancy can just make an adoption plan with her baby, sign a paper and problem solved! It doesn't work like that and to give such an impression (and a lot of people do it) is, to me, offensive. When my husband and I were adopting, we watched a lecture given by Dr. Joseph Crumbley, a well-respected expert on transracial adopton. In his lecture, he spoke of an adoption hierarchy of race (I paraphrase) as valued by our society in general and as it pertains to adoptive parents in particular. Crumbley said that the most highly valued race is white/Eastern European. Next, is Asian, the next rung down are the Hispanic/Latino children and, within this, lighter shades were more highly valued than darker. At the bottom rung are children of African descent, again with a sub-ranking of light to dark skin tone. It was a heartbreaking thing for us to hear but it is the reality of the world in which we live. I bring this up because we have a problem here in the US finding homes for brown children and telling a black woman, "hey, just place your baby for adoption," is a bit of a lie. (Incidentally, the widely accepted terminology is to "make and adoption plan for" the child rather than "place your baby" or the very taboo "give up" a baby.) With all due respect, because your husband and his siblings were adopted doesn't make you knowledgeable about the realities of adoption. I am also not an expert. But as a member of what is called the adoption triad (comprised of the child, birthparents and adoptive parents), as having adopted relatively recently as compared to your in-laws or my grandparents (so much has changed in the last twenty years), having adopted domestically and having adopted outside of my race, I do have a special vantage point that most people do not have. And I would like to hear some serious conversations taking place on your side of the abortion issue about how best to care for the unwanted babies and children that are currently moving in and out of the foster care system. Anyway, all of this is an aside to the original post. As a writer, I understand how difficult it is to put yourself out there and then be interpreted or, as was apparently the case, misinterpreted. But that is, in itself, the challenge writers face. Or any artists, really. Your job is to find the words to convey your feelings and put them together in a way that creates the tone you want. So you happened to miss on this one. No biggie. Don't let it get you down too much. For what it's worth, while I disagree with you on many issues, I think you're a really good writer and were a great addition (albeit waaay too late) to Citizen Voices. ~aaryn

J
November 05, 2008 at 11:33 PM
Niamh- How can you judge a person’s written words as cynical? It is near impossible to impart inflection into writing, as I am sure anyone that has used email is aware. Try telling a sarcastic joke to someone through email and you will find (unless an obvious statement to the contrary is made) that it can and often will be interpreted incorrectly. I see no evidence in this or any of Mrs. Jondle’s writing on this site that she has been anything but honest and candid about her views and emotions. I find it a bit disturbing that you seem so threatened by her sincere words you attack not just her words or views, but her character and moral fiber. Is that what politics has sunk to in this country? Our leaders and those running to be our leaders do not set the most upright example, yet it is saddening to me as a defender of this country to see people so ready to attack anothers character for assuming to disagree with them. McCain’s speech was inspiring and I do hope that those who “voted Red” as you put it will see that though the candidate they voted for did not win we have a new president and that alone deserves respect. But respect of a president does not equate to devotion or blind acceptance. You asked that we not be “so skeptical” of Mr. Obama. I think that is wrong. It is only right that we, as citizens in a country run based on the collective will, examine and review decisions made by our leaders. People from all sides need to learn to evaluate a person, not on their political affiliation, but on the merits of their suggestions. Mrs. Jondle has repeatedly evaluated Mr. Obama in her post, not on the fact that he is a democrat but on the value of his statements. Mr. Obama has an ego. You have an ego. Everyone has one, regardless of how humble they are. The word “Ego” does not carry with it the kind of connotation you seem to be applying to it. Not only that, but you seem to be taking Mrs. Jondle’s completely out of context. Regardless of if the man did it for you or me or the people of this country or for some more selfish motivation does not belie the fact that he accomplished much and should be proud of it. As to whether or not Mr. Obama is going to be able to clean up the mess that most America seems to believe we are in is yet to be seen and I will hold my verdict on that to see what polices he will enact once the full shock of the office to which he has been appointed sets in. Lastly, concerning your hope. “Hope never one fair hearts.” Hope is a good thing to have, but action and courage to act is what gets things done. If you want things to change, if you want things to get better, don’t hope for or believe in but do. Have the intestinal fortitude to take the initiative and ACT. Aaryn B. You, sir, do not have a humble opinion. Why do you insist on attacking Mrs. Jondle’s person? How does her political view equate to her person? You do not know what she knows or does not know about adoption, and you seem to have made some assumptions of your own. I am appalled at how much seething hate you seem to be generating. Nothing in any of her writing suggest the devious and hatefulness that you seem to apply to her. You’re words disgust me Jim- During the recent election, there has been something of a heated and emotional debate among some of my extended family concerning 8. Those that voted yes on 8 did not do so out of fear or hate, though i can not speak for everyone. People voted based on beliefs about a word. You are extended all the same social rights as a married couple through a civil union. Prop 8 was about a word, whether or not the legal word “married” can be applied to same sex couples. I am sorry you feel that this is some how a step back for you and that it is a step back.

aaryn b. from Elation
November 06, 2008 at 12:19 AM
And one last thing, Jessica: I just watched Obama's victory speech (again) and immediately thought of you. I understand that watching Obama might be unpalatable for you---as it would be if I'd had to watch McCain give the victory speech---but Obama addressed you. He spoke to you. If you can stomach it, I would encourage you to watch it or listen to it. I found it compelling and believable and healing and I do think that he is going to govern from a place far more toward the middle than you anticipate. Oh, and he even mentions humility. ;) In Peace, ~aaryn

Matthew C. Scallon
November 06, 2008 at 06:34 PM
Matt, I know he’s not from your party, but I’ve always held a lot of respect for Alan Keyes. (One can dream.) We are in different parties, but we have the same sense of humor. Funny you mentioned Ambassador Keyes: I was one of the scores of people who voted for him. I just couldn't, in good conscience, vote for either Obama or McCain. In all seriousness, though, I will never forget Obama’s statement that if his girls make a “mistake”, he would not want them “punished” with a baby. (Or an STD, mentioned in the same breath.) I don’t know how a baby can be seen as punishment, especially with so many waiting to adopt. It would be fantastic to see Obama include a pro-life Democrat in his Cabinet. It would demonstrate post-partisanship without even giving something up to the opposing party! (Again, one can dream.) Nat Hentoff, my favorite pro-life atheist, wrote on that same point regarding Obama's treatment of his own grandchildren as punishment. I'll be happy to serve as the only pro-lifer in the Cabinet, but --as in the game of P.I.G.-- I've already called my shot. Not only will there be no pro-lifers in the Cabinet , ala Bill Clinton, but also the only pro-lifer in the entire Administration will be the ambassador to the Holy See. It's the political equivalent of Outer Mangolia, but, as I enjoyed Rome immensely eight years ago, I'll be happy to serve. :-)

Matthew C. Scallon
November 06, 2008 at 06:36 PM
Take two on the second paragraph: Nat Hentoff, my favorite pro-life atheist, wrote on that same point regarding Obama’s treatment of his own grandchildren as punishment.

Matthew C. Scallon
November 06, 2008 at 06:57 PM
@aaryn b.: "I really wish you pro-lifers who talk so blithely about adoption would educate yourselves about the complexities of it before you throw it around as the ultimate *duh!* solution for Every Woman." Well, maybe you pro-choicers should read the 95-10 Initiative from Democrats for Life of America before you pro-choicers make sweeping generalizations about us pro-lifers. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of what Obama supporters consider to be "reaching out across divisions," and I thank you for it. Every time my fellow pro-life Democrats try to tell me to seek "common ground" with you pro-choicers, your words will stay with me. Full disclosure: my wife and I are preparing our home for a foster child. And, since we are an inter-racial couple, we know all too well the hierarchy of race. Are there any other ad hominems that you want to direct towards us pro-lifers, or do you want to spare yourself any further embarassment?

Niamh
November 06, 2008 at 09:14 PM
To J - A writer writes not only to get a point across but to express and evoke emotion. A writer writes to stimulate. A writer writes to expound a thought, idea, theory. A writer writes to write. I understand that words can be interpreted incorrectly through reading as opposed to face to face. However, I also understand that when a writer writes, she/he is almost guaranteed to get a different reaction from each person. Some may be congruent, some may be way off. I read a statement, I felt a reaction, I put my reaction into words. Jessica wrote a statement with emotion and pride. I wrote a reaction with emotion and pride. You wrote a reaction with emotion and pride. And we all wrote with a tone. We reacted with our ids, our egos, our superegos. Thank you Freud. Again, misinterpretation has prevailed... I read my reaction over and did not come across a point that exuded a defamation of character against Mrs. Jondle. Simply, I was illuminating my thoughts, ideas, hopes. There is no feeling of threat on my part, I do not carry a backpack loaded with fear. I carry a suitcase of hope, belief and yes, J, I DO just DO IT. Doing it starts with belief. I "have the intestinal fortitude to take the initiative and ACT." I ACTED on my belief in a democracy, in a man, in a union, in a hope for change. Jessica, Thank you for your reply. Now that I have an explained intention of your words, thoughts, ideas, I see it a bit more clearly. My reaction was not to knock down, rather to build up. I am not a writer by trade or even study, so if it came off to you as it did to J as an attack on your character, well, it was a reaction.

michael valentine from spring Valley
November 07, 2008 at 12:51 AM
Bitter much?

niamh
November 07, 2008 at 01:03 AM
@ Mr. Valentine... Bitter, no. Sarcastic, maybe (aren't we all at some point or another). Excited, definitely! I harbor no anger. I do find the hilarity in all of this writing to write to write to rise & ruffle. Shake it up!

milkmaid
November 10, 2008 at 09:13 PM
This is probably too late to recieve much reading but I feel compelled to write anyway I am a mother of three wonderful adopted boys (now 2 happily married men and one finishing up his education at home). It breaks my hearth that so many in the name of 'choice' are willing to kill the child in the womb and think it is okay for both the birth mother and the child; but the thought of adoption is an anathema. My husband and I would have loved to have adopted more children but thanks to the stupid rules of the state of California we were not even considered worthy to be parents of a child that was not white as we are. We would have loved to adopt more children of any race, pure or mixed. I could understand a married couple with at least one black member having priority over us if the child was black or a black mix. But to deny the child a loving, stable family and give them into the foster care system just because we are white is horrible. It shows no concern for the child at all.. Also a bit of information about adopting. Adoption is very expensive and NOT covered by insurance. It often involves covering the prenatal and hospital expenses of the birth mother. Of course there are lawyer expenses and then the county has to get their cut for making sure that you are fit to raise the child (even in a "private" adoption where the birth mother has chosen you to raise her baby). The questionnaires that must be filled out are thick booklets probing into your private life. Questions like: how did your get along with your siblings, parents in-laws, etc, how did you learn about puberty, how you plan to or do discipline and on and on they go. You also have to give out your financial info. If every one that wanted to have a baby had to answer all the personal questions and "pass the test" I bet there would be a lot fewer families in this world! Adoptive children are few and hard to come by. We feel so fortunate and blessed to have adopted three. It took us two years of spreading the word to friends and family to get word of our first son. We had applied with several adoption agencies as well but we never heard from one of them. The county we lived in told us they rarely had white children come up for adoption and we wouldn't be able to adopt a non-white child. It was four years later we welcomed our second son and 4 more years before we were blessed with our last son. By then we were approaching the "too old" age so we knew we would never hear from any agency we had applied with. All three came through references from friends and were "private" adoptions. My heart aches when I hear that there are too many unwanted children in the world - I know it is different. There are lots of folks who would cherish the role of raising up adoptive children but our culture is brainwashed and thinks nobody wants them. So the pregnant gal gets an abortion and pays with emotional and possibly physical problems for the rest of her life and the child never has a choice to do anything.

Matthew C. Scallon
November 11, 2008 at 01:28 AM
@milkmaid, no, you're not too late. All of that looks like our experience, too. Thanks.

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