Midway through President George W. Bush's term, the hopes and expectations for an administration of compassionate conservative tone and actions have been dashed. The September 11 tragedy has been exploited for political purposes and our nation is becoming ever more polarized between the haves and the have-nots to the detriment of our quality of life and our reputation for world leadership. Hoping that this will encourage President Bush to re-think his priorities and his approach to the responsibilities of presidential leadership, we hereby exercise our right to freedom of speech by censuring him as follows:1) The Economy: Although some weaknesses had already developed in the robust economy he inherited from the 90's, he has been slow to recognize the problems and has exhibited little ability to deal with the situation. Republican Party presidential and congressional leadership power encouraged many in the business community to a renewed feeding frenzy in spite of warnings of excessive exuberance in the stock market. The President, in apparent denial of economic realities, plunged on with promotion and passage of a massive tax cut (benefitting a very limited constituency). Keeping that political campaign promise has cost the ordinary citizens of the country dearly. The revelations of corporate greed, corruption, and irresponsibility have destroyed confidence in our market economy. More than the rhetorical claim that the fundamentals are sound is needed to turn this around. Where are you, Mr. President? 2) Corporate Influence and Accountability: President Eisenhower's warnings of danger from the military/industrial complex have often surfaced since uttered nearly half a century ago. The Bush administration is noteworthy for its reliance on persons chosen for important positions from the corporate world. With a significant number of exposed problems of corporate and executive malfeasance, there is a need to establish transparency so that the public will feel confidence in the personal integrity and the absence of conflict of interest of those in government leadership positions, including the President himself. If, as we are assured, there are no actual problems in these areas, why not clear the air through public disclosure? Public persons must be prepared to accept a higher degree of scrutiny and loss of privacy than ordinary citizens. Mr. President: please set an example yourself and require your associates to do so also. 3) Civil Rights and Freedom from Fear: Who could have anticipated that the fallout from the September 11 tragedy, in the hands of persons such as Attorney General Ashcroft, would extend so far so fast? Invasions of privacy, secrecy, asking citizens to inform on each other (TIP), indefinite detention without being charged, denial of legal services, confinement of persons captured in military action but denied POW status, enhanced technical surveillance, the Poindexter operation to centralize collection of up-to-now personal information on all of us - the list goes on and on. Is this the constitutional America we were raised to trust and believe in? The administration, responding to its self-proclaimed "war" against international terrorism, is overreacting to events in an impossible quest for 100% security in a world we cannot control. We need leadership that puts this in fair perspective rather than promoting a panicy response to hurt. Please protect our liberties as well as our security, Mr. President. 4) International Relations: For those who follow events and are knowledgeable over a period of years, this presidency has been an embarrassment and a disaster. As the only remaining superpower, we have a leadership role to play. President Bush has chosen to play it as a unilateralist and has already used up a great deal of accumulated goodwill as well as sowing uncertainty and suspicion. From name-calling such as the "axis of evil" remark to distrust of established international institutions, treaties, and intergovernmental relationships, he has created problems and exposed a lack of experience and knowledge for all to see. His inability to comprehend more than one side of a situation is costing us dearly. He should broaden the adviser base on which he relies. Without believeable evidence, actions such as threatening war against Iraq and claiming the right to preemptive strikes anywhere against presumed international terrorists diminish us. As a born again Christian, Mr. President, please remember the Golden Rule. Or at least follow the advice of another Republican president - Theodore Roosevelt - to speak softly but carry a big stick. 5) Personal Impression: President Bush's impatient and ambitious quest for personal power seems to know no limits these days. Demanding (and receiving from a compliant Congress) unprecedented powers for pre-emptive war is frightening. Pushing for authority to run the Homeland Defense Department any way he chooses - so as to better serve the people of America - reminds us of the actions of Hitler. Some of President Bush's associates exhibit similar hubris. Are we still a nation of laws, not men? If unchecked and uncontrolled, this attitude creates anxiety that our American democracy and its institutions developed through the years are at risk. Mr. President: please remember who you are and how you got there. 6) The richest and most powerful nation in the world remains unwilling to address the needs of many of its own people who remain in poverty, lack opportunity for advancement, are unable to afford adequate health care or insurance, and are passed by in terms of educational opportunities. We refuse to accept fair responsibility for the environmental damage we generate. We consume without regard for sustainability of natural resources. Mr. President: your leadership can strengthen our nation, protect its future, and make a difference to so many if you will serve the needs and hopes of all Americans.
These concerns should not surprise you - if so, may this be a wake up call. Your presidency promised high expectations for many citizens of our nation, but it seems to have become co-opted and sidetracked. There is still time to change.