An Open Letter to Senator Obama by Kate

I read this moving letter by Kate at The Radula and felt it needed to be shared. Remember, It’s not just election day that’s important but everyday after that matters too. Holding our politicians accountable to their word and promises is our responsibility.

Dear Senator Obama,

In a few hours I will be seeing you in Albuquerque NM. I have no hope what-so-ever that you will see me among the crowd of thousands, or that I will have the honor and privilege of speaking with you in person, but there are a few things I want you to know.

Now I’m no Joe the Plumber, and I don’t even hope to suddenly start earning a quarter of a million dollars and buy my own business. I’m a mom, and what I want is to be able to work, to keep a roof over my head, and clothes on my children’s back and food in their bellies. I want them to have a future they can be proud of.

It’s not the economy, sir. Or not just the economy. I’ve been working at odd jobs since I was five, been saving money, been paying taxes and had farm employment at the age of 11. I’ve gone to college, got a few degrees, and had a profession before chronic illness put an end to all that. And in all that time I’ve never begrudged a single tax penny that was spent on educating others and giving hope to the poor and disadvantaged, for the promotion of science and technology, and for keeping green spaces in America.

It’ isn’t just the economy. It’s education and health care. Without those, people like me cannot re-enter the job force, and the hope for the future of American economy is dim. Education, especially in the sciences, will allow our country to once again become competitive in the world market, create jobs, clean our environment, and provide needed advances in health care.

My daughter is a marine biologist in California, but her employment is in limbo because of the city hiring freeze. Her job is to provide educational opportunities for young children. The aquarium where she works will be cutting programs, freezing new requests for field trips, and has frozen hiring because of lack of funding. Not only does this mean that my daughter is not getting a paycheck, but it means that all of those children who go through that aquarium are not getting the exposure to marine biology and the positive encouragement and experiences in the sciences that our children need to keep them interested in their educations and engage them in science as a possible career path.

Sir, when I heard Senator McCain make that comment not once but repeatedly about the ‘overhead projector’, I nearly fell out of my seat laughing. Then I realized that there were so many people out there who did not understand what he was talking about, and perhaps had never had the opportunity or experience of visiting a quality planetarium as I had when I was younger. I remember the awe and excitement of seeing the night sky in the middle of the day, of seeing the stars and planets in their motion speeded up on the dome of the planetarium. It made such a profound impact on my life that I stayed with the planetarium astronomy club, then went on to college to pursue a degree in astrophysics.

If only other children could have the wonderful experience I have had!

I did go into the sciences as a career, and worked in engineering during the difficult economy of the 80s, then, when I became too ill to work, once again returned to college, got a degree in teaching, then got off social security until my illness progressed to the stage where I could no longer work. One of the problems I encountered in getting off social security and returning to the work force was that my health insurance would not cover existing conditions, and since my diagnosis is Lupus, that included an awful lot.

Now I hope to get into remission long enough to once again return to the work force, but in order to do so I will have to have an opportunity to have adequate health care. It’s my hope that I will be able to work long enough to pay my student loans, buy a home for myself and my children, and to put some money and security away for the day I am no longer able to work. Without adequate health care, that will be an impossibility.

Senator Obama, tonight I’ll be cheering for you, and having the audacity to hope that you will not only ascend to the presidency, but will make good on your promises to America, promises that will continue to give hope not only to myself, but to the millions of Americans who have lost hope, who have lost the opportunities to work, to provide for their families, to become educated, and to maintain their health.


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