Dear Senator Obama,
Congratulations on becoming the deserving presumptive nominee of the Democrat Party after Senator Clinton endorsed your nomination today, albeit later than it ought to have been. The Clintons are political elders whose wise counsel would be invaluable to any leader, but whose time in electoral politics may have past.
The country needs to move beyond the mindset and the Washington policy establishments of the Clinton and Bush presidencies to take an out of the box look at the future.
I agree with you that the United States needs mobilization from the grassroots to achieve the much needed change. You are extraordinarily gifted in mobilizing the nation and your unequivocal victory in your party’s nominating contest is a testament to that. This letter of mine to you, which you may share with Senator McCain if you wish, is about what I think must be the proper course of mobilization for change, not whether mobilization is necessary.
As a citizen concerned about the future of the United States, I am not certain that your liberal proclivities on the capacity of the government to bring about the changes you say are necessary, and many agree with, are in sync with the context, because in spite of what appears to be your patience to listen to all sides on issues, I am afraid that your policies will ultimately tilt in the direction of expansionary government, especially going forward, when such an outcome is least desirable.
The willingness of foreigners, given their own domestic constraints and development aspirations, to continue to send us money to the same extent they had done so far, particularly since the end of the Cold War, even if we were to get past the current period of uncertainty, is not something we can count on beginning 2009. In other words, the next president and future congresses may not have the luxury enjoyed by the many national leaders in the past, particularly presidents Clinton and Bush, to engage in unrestrained spending, whatever the merits of the cause. If we do, we may spend both our goodness and global ambition into bankruptcy and bondage.
President Clinton could not have “balanced” the budget without increasing the trade deficit and President Bush could not have taken the country to war on two fronts at the same time, an eventuality waiting to happen for nearly a decade, no matter who would have been president after President Clinton and whatever be the debate and judgment about how the wars have been executed, without raising the trade deficit and stretching the American consumer some more.
The government will therefore have to learn to do more with less, for a government that cannot regulate itself cannot seek self-regulation from the rest of the country, let alone liberty for the rest of the world. That is, what will be critical are the structure of spending and the structure of taxation subject to a disciplined budget constraint, in a manner that does not pit one socio-economic group against another, which happened under both Presidents Clinton and Bush, but that is fair to all.
The United States will have to rely more on itself to grow economically both at home and abroad to be able to continue to lead. This means reforms in foreign policy, energy, taxation, trade, health care, entitlements and welfare, and immigration must lead to enhanced national security and economic growth and not to an enlarging government. In economic terms, this translates to a government whose form and function must encourage the markets to be more self-reliant, innovative and disciplined, just as it becomes so itself.
All of the above point in the direction of Senator McCain’s policies and not yours, including foreign policy where, in spite of your perceptive and nuanced understanding of the complex and strategic geopolitical issues, you seem to be conveying a sense of conciliation followed by condition, the Clintonesque “good cop” followed by the Bush “bad cop,” while Senator McCain, hardened by experience, is communicating to the rest of the world that reconciliation, both politically and economically, cannot be feasible unless it is conditioned on an unyielding and explicit commitment to principle by all sides to transform international relations to be more about shared objectives and common threats. Meaning, the commitment to, and the communication of, principle always precedes the institutional changes that are necessary to implement it. The din of mismanagement of the Iraq war may have drowned out this objective of the Bush administration, but continuity of this foreign policy leitmotif and its flawless execution are imperative if we are to succeed and lead.
With due respect, having supported both you and Senator McCain in your respective primary campaigns, I believe at this point that Senator McCain will be more correct on the course of policy and its execution than you could be. I have no formal partisan affiliation though I am personally a conservative Republican and on policy matters, a moderate Republican.
It would be very beneficial to the voters if both Senator McCain and yourself, first selected running mates who can de facto co-preside with you and complement you, in the interest of national security; second, together participated in as many town hall meetings as possible to demonstrate how you could work together from either side of the aisle no matter who is elected president; and finally, gave Press interviews dedicated to one policy issue at a time for at least a whole hour, such as on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert, for the country to get a better and a more in depth sense of their candidates for President in November.
In the spirit of this Summer’s Olympic Games, may the better candidate win in November.