I have an amazing family. We're normal, everyday, middle-class people without a lot of money, resources, connections, or power. We fight hard, debate hard, and love hard. I'm proud to say that, at the bottom of it all, we have huge hearts, with a sense of compassion and Grace instilled in us by my incredible mother, Lou, and father, Chuck (or "Pastor Chuck" as he is known to his Methodist congregation). I could write a book on what my parents mean to me, but it is their passion for doing what is right, what is good, and what is just that brings me here.
In two months, the United States will return to the voting booths to (hopefully) re-elect their Commander in Chief, Barack Obama. One of the things that frightens me, however, is this sense of calm that seems to have taken over many of my fellow Democrats and liberals, who view President Obama's opponent as weak and even disliked within his own Party... "Good thing Romney doesn't have a shot of winning!" they proclaim. But the threat is very, very real.
Recent polls indicate that not only does the Romney/Ryan ticket have a real chance of winning key battleground states (Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Hampshire), he is gaining momentum in Florida and, some believe, he might actually win it easily. This isn't good. You all remember what happened the last time the Republicans took Florida...
This is a plea from not only me, but from my family. We're not trying to change your minds (in all honesty, this is not a place for debate; if you are in support of a Romney/Ryan White House, then nothing anyone can say will likely change your mind)... we are, quite simply, trying to light a fire under your ass if you are feeling complacent in your support of Barack Obama. Those of you who hold the same dreams as my family need to understand:
Next January could be the beginning of a road that leads to losing many of the freedoms and rights that we all but take for granted if Romney wins this November. It could mean taking a social and civil step back two whole generations.
Friends, the call is coming from inside the house.
My father recently sent out this email to friends and family, about a week before the convention began. I'd like to share it with you here, followed by a response and call-to-action, written by my sister, Kim, which she sent to a group of her close friends. What you're reading now, is my attempt to continue spreading the word.
I know it's long, but I hope you'll take the time. No more complacency.
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Dear family and friends ...
What can I say?! We are on the cusp of a Republican Convention where distortion and lies will dominate the speaking and an effort to turn the country back to the last administration, if not the 19th or 18th centuries, will be on full display. Women -- back in the closet! Minorities, the poor, and the elderly? Many of you can forget about those voting rights! The safety net -- you are on your own! And if you're old or soon-to-be, here's a coupon; now go find some insurance! If you are gay -- forget it, you aren't really loved by God or of any real value!
This is the most radical pair we have ever seen run for President and Vice President. They bow at the feet of corporate greed, capitalistic laissez-faire gods, and Ayn Rand. (I'm still trying to figure out how you can have Ayn Rand as your hero [heroine?] and model for your beliefs, but still be a professing Catholic? I must have missed that part of the Gospel where the rich, young ruler came to Jesus and asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" and Jesus responded, "Take all of your riches and hoard them to yourself, avoid all taxes that might be used to help the unwashed masses and regard those who are poor as undeserving of God's love or yours." Which Lord does Ryan swear allegiance to?)
(I almost miss W and Cheney! You have to work hard for me to reminisce about the good old days of 2001-8 ... but we'll be longing for 'compassionate conservatism' if the R and R duo is victorious...)
I have not always been happy with the decisions, or lack of decisions, made by President Obama over the past three and a half years. Maybe you're discouraged by many things, too. But it's important to remember that there has been much accomplished in spite of every effort by the President's enemies to destroy him. Where would we be with a President McCain and Vice President Palin? I shudder to think how they would have dealt with a spiraling, out-of-control economy, a disappearing car industry, a broken health care system, Osama bin Laden, and challenges of foreign policy! I am thankful we have a President who can think, is respectful of others and a great family man, and who has assembled a team of excellent public servants (look at his Cabinet and Supreme Court choices!), despite dealing with the worst economy since the Great Depression and the most worthless Congress I've seen in my lifetime.
This modern Republican Party is obsessed with contraceptive rights and birther conspiracies, and is doing its best to hit the brakes on every move toward economic improvement -- for no other reason than that they hate Obama, his politics, his color, and the future where they see decades of progressive hopes being realized when power slips through their greedy fingers.
But... the real danger is complacency and a sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of money that the super-rich, who live for nothing but making another buck, are pouring into this campaign. Look at the cast of characters who are not just running the asylum (who seem to represent the newest version of the Republican Party... Where did my parent's Republican party go?!? I wonder...), but also those folks behind the scenes, spending unfathomable sums of their wealth to turn the levers of power over to those who will do their bidding.
If you aren't inspired by the hope that an Obama-Biden ticket can offer our future for energy independence, health care, education, the rights of women, a Supreme Court that is balanced, compassion for the poorest among us, and a sense of human decency, then maybe you can be driven by fear of what kind of country a Romney-Ryan Administration will give us: a push for criminalizing abortion even in cases of incest and rape; a push for greater defense spending at the expense of fairness in tax policy; at least one or two Supreme Court appointments in the next four years that will set the Court far Right for the next 40 years; enormous tax give-aways to the wealthy, while every budget area that helps education and student loans, health care, safety and food protection, food stamps for the poor, clean air, any energy approach that isn't big oil, continued inattention to failing infrastructure, and on and on, is cut to nearly nothing.
[...] The reporters and pundits will look at the numbers of people who contributed during this month for both campaigns, and where will we stand? As Democrats, we can't ever compete with billionaires who will spend all that they can to defeat Obama, simply because they hate him and everything he represents . Well, he represents me, and represents you.
We can still put money into supporting people whose vision and character you respect. Please, spread the word and encourage your friends and family to remember that elections have real results and consequences. Take some time to help wake them up!
I'm not going to wake up on Wednesday, November 7th and ask myself why I didn't contribute what I could to have the country that I want, or why I didn't write an email like this one to those I hope will join me to see another four years of hope, and, at the very least, a possibility for 'change' ... a change that looks ahead instead of backward.
Okay, that's enough from me. Join the Johnstone household and help donate! You can make your contribution by going here: OBAMA/BIDEN 2012
Please, encourage your family and friends to put their resources, however modest, to join you in helping keep our country and the future for our children focused on something positive, hopeful, and compassionate. Beat back against the forces of hate, ignorance and selfishness.
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While I may be getting a bit of a late start here [...] I got an email this morning from my very impassioned Father, and it's lit a much-needed fire under me to start taking action...
The election is a mere 2 months away, and I know that many of you have different beliefs and priorities for what you want to see happen within our government over the next four years... But I know, for a fact, that NONE OF YOU want to see the progress our country has made over the past 5 decades stripped away -- including women's rights, the rights of gays, lesbians, and transgendered, and that of the poor, the elderly, the young, the sick, and the struggling. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
A Romney/Ryan triumph is a frightening prospect that many of us may not be taking too seriously. After all, Mitt Romney seemed to be such an unpopular candidate, even among his own party! Right? The idea that these two could be victorious during this coming election may seem absurd, but the truth of the matter is that many Conservatives on the Far [Far Far] Right -- driven by fear and an unfounded hatred of President Obama -- are rising up to stand alongside these two, who may have the most conservatively extreme ideals we've ever seen in a National election, and that they may pull ahead to win is a very real possibility. What stands between that and a Democratic victory is simply complacency on our part.
I entreat everyone to do what they can, inspire their friends and family to take this election seriously, and even donate to the Obama/Biden cause. I, personally, don't have a lot to give financially, but I'm still contributing a small sum. I'm also doing what's in my power to spread the word to my closest friends (you guys!), and hope you will do that same. Write your own letters of support and forward to the people in your life who may feel likewise -- or may not have decided yet at all!
For everyone who actually read this message, THANK YOU...
I love you all. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!
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I sit here the day after the Democratic National Convention, and my mind is racing with different ideas, emotions, and arguments. I'm inspired by the thoughtful, well-informed, and uplifting speeches given by the DNC speakers, most notably rock star and FLOTUS, Michelle Obama; the man with the most succinct argument against the Romney/Ryan plan I've yet to hear, Maryland Representative, Chris Van Hollen; Massachusetts Senate nominee and my new favorite grandmother, Elizabeth Warren; victim-of-the-Right and all-around bad ass feminist, Sandra Fluke; screen beauty and Obama campaign supporter, Kerry Washington; former president and improvising orator, Bill "Photographic Memory" Clinton; and, of course, our Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama.
Around this time every four years, since 1992—when my father held our first election party for Bill Clinton who was running for President against George H.W. Bush (I realized that same night how much I loved to eat black olives off my fingertips; I was 6-years-old)—I start to feel this same level of anxiety. This anxiety does not stem from an irrational "end of the world" fear. Please; we're all adults here. Sure, it can feel like that (especially this year, when our civil liberties find themselves hanging by a thread), but realistically I know that no matter who is president, God willing, I'll survive to see another election. Most of us will survive, no matter whose politics you support.
But I remember the disappointment of 2000, when I had to cross out a blue Florida on our giant color map (it was my job that year to color in which party won which state), upon hearing that it was actually "too close to call," then waiting for hours (days!) only to find out that Florida would not return to blue... I remember 2004, sitting alone in darkness of my freshman dorm room, my Republican roommate already sleeping soundly, as I refreshed, refreshed, refreshed the election results on my laptop, only to find out that yes, we would be getting four more years of President Bush.
And then came 2008. I was older, I was more informed, and I was passionate about this presidential nominee. Barack Obama had inspired me, as he did millions of others. I saw a young Robert F. Kennedy in him, as I still do today—a big heart, with smart plans and a smart team, and good intentions that will make an enormous difference in history. Planning for this election party was a blast; there were Michelle Obama's shortbread cookies, deep dish Chicago pizza, and Chicago-style hotdogs... My father had spent countless hours volunteering and making phone calls; he had donated significant amounts of money to Obama's campaign—easily more than he really could have afforded.
The joy that erupted in our house that night, which was full of 20 friends and family members, when CNN announced an Obama/Biden victory is, honestly, one of the most memorable moments thus far in my adult life. Why? Because it had all mattered so, so much to my family; as active supporters, we felt as if we'd earned that victory.
Every election has taught me something very valuable: You have to invest in the things that matter to you. It doesn't happen on its own, it doesn't happen over night, and it certainly doesn't come for free.
This is me and my family asking you to step up; to get fired up and ready to go.
Don't wait. This matters. It all matters. No matter the candidate you support, if what happens in this country matters to you, then invest. Just like how we must invest in our economy to create the world we want, so must we invest in our leaders.
If you managed to read this far, thank you.
See you on election day.
Psst... Once again, you can donate here!
Psst... Once again, you can donate here!