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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 8, 2008 at 2:41 PM

President-elect Barack Obama

David Karp / The Associated Press

Copies of the latest edition of the weekly newspaper Amsterdam News celebrate President-elect Barack Obama’s victory.

Part of the solution

Editor, The Times:

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There were seven sins in the world: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice and politics without principle.”

If this simple thought were followed, this nation could have avoided our current financial crisis, which was driven by greed rather than sound commercial gain, creative real-estate financing based on a soft real-estate-growth assumption, corporate misdeeds absent effective oversight, expanding consumer-credit debt and a dysfunctional Congress driven by partisan politics and personal gain.

On Nov. 4, I witnessed the unimaginable — the election of Sen. Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. In his acceptance speech, with three simple words, “yes we can,” he set forth a call to action for Americans to overcome our differences and become part of the solution [“Obama to the White House: elation and disbelief,” Times, Politics & Government, Nov. 4].

We must remember that Congress is the policymaking body of our constitutional system. Obama will be faced with partisan politics, pork-barrel spending and self-serving interests of individual congressional members and special interests. This was not the intent of our Founding Fathers; it is reality.

Love of country seems to have been trumped by love of self — reward without responsibility.

— Craig Chase, Allyn

No dream too big

There have been many times in the past 10 years that I have missed my late mom’s spirit and intellect, but none as much as today. She and I would have shared tears of joy at the election of President-elect Barack Obama.

Long before Rosa Parks, the Selma to Montgomery marches or Martin Luther King’s speech, my mom was advocating the equal treatment of all people. Circa 1946, my mom (a white woman) debated in school the merits of racially integrated schools, which was virtually unheard of at the time. As a star debater, she honed her analytical and communication skills. In subtle ways, she used those skills throughout her life to change the way people thought about women and people of color. Racial slurs and stereotypical remarks and jokes were not tolerated in our house, and she tactfully scolded others when such statements were made.

She would have rejoiced today, not just because a black person was elected president of the U.S., but because an intelligent, articulate, analytical and inspirational person was chosen to lead our country at one of the most challenging times in American history.

The fact that he is black would be historically significant, but she knew, as do I after a 28-year career in business management, that a great leader possesses the above traits, hires the right managers, asks smart questions, is a great listener, makes the tough decisions and communicates them articulately.

My hope is that the election of 2016, when Obama’s great run as president is finished, will be one where there is little discussion about the color of a candidate’s skin, whether a person has testicles or ovaries, or whether the person sleeps with a person of the same gender.

Too much to dream? As of today, I don’t think so.

— Michelle Spohrer, Kirkland

Let’s make some magic

Postelection, I think Americans should thank Sen. John McCain for his resistance to exploiting racial tensions during the campaign. His decision was decent and noble.

All of us need to shower good wishes on President-elect Barack Obama, who has assumed an awesome responsibility of leading this country in the toughest of times. His patient, thoughtful and calm demeanor has been reassuring and refreshing for most Americans.

May we, the citizenry of this great nation, find the grace and wisdom to work together to continue to perfect our union. Obama has warned us that progress won’t be easy to achieve, and we know that he is not Superman in disguise. We need him and Congress to truly put country first.

Selfishness and special interest must not reign if the U.S. is to prosper.

The election was magical. It’s up to all of us to make this next phase of hour history magical, too.

— Michael MacLeod, Shoreline

A better place

The significance of our newly elected president is clearly felt throughout our country. That significance seems to be playing out in wonderful ways between individual citizens. People I meet on the streets of Seattle seem happy, as if a weight has been lifted by hope.

Black people aren’t hesitant any more to talk to me on the street. We are perfect strangers, but there is a polite openness that seems to infuse our conversations.

And for myself, a white man raised in Washington state’s rural Olympic Peninsula, it’s a sign that our country’s citizens are engaged in their society in a new and positive way.

Some will complain when their taxes rise under political agendas of the Democratic Party. My fellow citizens, isn’t that a fair price considering the circumstances? Doesn’t the past eight years of relatively lower taxation overcompensate for any tax increase you are about to be subjected to? And more importantly, isn’t the fact that Obama was elected solely on his character and promise of leading a hopeful nation a value-added proposition?

On election night in Seattle, we had, perhaps for the first time in the history of the city, people fill the streets to celebrate a political event out of joy and contentment — not to come together under the grim visage of protest that breeds discontent. But, rather our citizens gathered spontaneously on the streets as a community to celebrate and recognize the importance of a new direction in our country’s society.

As a leader, Obama has shown that it’s possible to leave the deep wounds of a troubled society behind and focus on the future. His election is perhaps the final tangible proof our country needs to know it has healed from the memory of slavery and bigotry. It has been a memory which has hung on to our society like a long steel chain forged over 400 years. Obama has helped our society heal from this terrible living memory not just because he’s black, but simply because it is within his character to be such a leader.

Nov. 4, 2008, was the day that the significance of our Constitution and its explicit impartiality was made clear to the world. It was the day that our Constitution was made whole. And with that fundamental cornerstone of our entire political system firmly in place, the U.S. can now truly begin to exert a positive influence in the world as a compassionate empire.

— Richard Scott, Seattle

Sing with me

I, like Randy Hucks of Kenmore, am an octogenarian. [“We can smile again,” Northwest Voices, Nov. 6]. I also woke up [after Election Day] with a song in my heart and a smile on my face. I found myself singing a song that I have not heard or thought of for many, many years.

America, sing with me.

“I’m back in the saddle, again.”

— Clarice Umperovitch, Everett

Starting the change

I used to be a white, poor, abused, non-English-speaking, female immigrant who became a naturalized citizen on welfare raising two wonderful daughters, one a gay Hispanic.

In the past I worked for a predominantly black mental-health agency where I heard myself referred to as a “honky.” I often felt discrimination from the wealthy.

I lived primarily in low-income areas where the varied cultures rarely spoke to one another and the poor were targeted for crime and theft, but I overcame my horrible beginnings and gained 11 years of education beyond high school, 35 years in the corporate world and have founded a nonprofit that helps hundreds.

But I still see the discrimination from all sides — not just from Caucasians. I can’t count the number of times I have heard the comment, “I don’t think I’ll live long enough to see a black president.” Well, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see a president that gave me hope again — one who realizes that he did not get elected because he was black but because he was brilliant and gave us all hope again.

I am so excited today that electing Barack Obama proved we didn’t discriminate. And if there is discrimination, every single one of us is to blame.

My dying wish is to live long enough to see our culture changing from even discussing the color of our skin, socioeconomic status, the sexuality we choose, or any other topic that brings some pain to someone who does not deserve it — that we are judged by who we are and what we do.

I am now a 62-year-old with eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. As I approach my final years, my dying wish and hope is to see that Obama has started that change.

— Lea Lakeside-Scott, Portland, Ore.

What a letdown

Most of the media fawned over President-elect Barack Obama for months — expressing few doubts about his far-reaching promises and rarely asking him tough questions. Suddenly, two days after his election, we read, “Expectations vs. reality” [page one, Nov. 6]. It should have read, “Obama’s rhetoric vs. reality.”

Amazingly, the day after being elected, after months of, “Yes we can!” he has already started making excuses for what he may not be able to achieve. Your story states, “Gibbs, the senior adviser, said one of Obama’s main challenges was tamping down expectations a bit without making anyone think he was moving away from his campaign promises.”

He convinced his starry-eyed followers (the public and the media) that he was their political savior. Now that he is elected, he is finally admitting that the rhetoric was, after all, mostly rhetoric. What a letdown. After all, it was mostly the rhetoric that inspired his followers. They chanted, “Yes we can! Yes we can!” for so long, it can’t be very inspiring to change it to, “Well, maybe we can’t. Don’t get your hopes up. We’ll try.”

— Doug Hjellen, Mill Creek

We brought it upon ourselves

As a Republican who fundamentally disagrees with his policies and philosophy of government, President-elect Obama did not get my vote. But like every American, I am profoundly proud of our country and of Obama’s achievement in this historic election.

He has earned my support as he tackles the challenges ahead. And while I am naturally disappointed in the nationwide drubbing the GOP received, unlike many Seattle Democrats in 2004, you won’t find me in therapy or planning a move to Canada.

I recognize that Republicans brought it upon themselves by the complete abandonment of their core principles.

Instead, I plan on supporting this new president and helping to rebuild the Republican Party into a successful force of unabashed conservatism.

— Eric Mueller, Seattle

No truthiness, please

A lot is being said about overblown expectations for what President-elect Barack Obama can accomplish during his presidency. So I got to thinking about what I hope the Obama administration can do.

They need to get off “the dark side” in foreign policy, listen to our allies and stop the flagrant use of the words “enemy” and “evil.” They need to renounce torture and take steps to close the prison at Guantanamo. They should acknowledge and use real science and realistically outline the facts about global climate change and make decisions based on scientific truth instead of “truth-i-ness,” or “what feels good in my gut.”

And finally, the Obama administration needs to hire real experts to act as government officials instead of dunces who happen to be political cronies.

I don’t expect Obama to get our troops out of Iraq tomorrow, fix my family’s health-care plan the day after that or even bring the economy roaring back. I just want truth and justice. I want this to be the American way again.

— Isabel D’Ambrosia, Seattle

Where McCain went wrong

In his Friday, Nov. 7 letter, Timor Olisker states that America’s enemies are cheering President-elect Barack Obama [“Check yourself,” Northwest Voices, Nov. 7].

If I were a dedicated enemy of the U.S., I would have been cheering the election of Sen. John McCain. That would have likely meant continuation of most of the foreign and domestic policy approaches that led to our country losing allies and gaining a trashed economy.

I do not doubt that McCain is a decent and honorable man who puts the well-being of his country and its people first. It was and is his seeing the world through Cold War glasses, his impulsiveness and decision-making style that put me off.

— Raymond Copes, Bellevue

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