President Obama: Stand Up for the Change We Voted For

Dear President Obama,

It was the latest headlines that really sent me over the edge. They read "White House poised to drop public option," and "White House signals willingness to drop public option to pass health care reform." I'm not pretending to be an expert, but what is the point of reforming national health care if every citizen is not guaranteed affordable (if not free) and humane healthcare? The failures of our current system are proof that private insurers cannot be trusted with the lives of Americans, and in my humble opinion, the only foolproof way to ensure that everyone is granted healthcare is if government finally takes matters into its own hands. These headlines disappoint and sadden me, as they seem to signal the end of the "hope" you inspired and the "change" you promised, threatening to derail the trust I placed in you, and the trust the millions who voted for you placed in you.

During your campaign for president, I had just turned 17 and wished desperately to be 18 years old so that I could vote for you. You represented hope and change and most importantly, a departure from the dreadfully inhumane policies, both domestic and foreign, propagated by the Bush regime. So, it was with a sense of elated hope that I watched the victorious election outcomes on television.

Now, months into your historic presidency, there are many domestic (and foreign) policy issues on which I have an opinion, for which there are no easy solutions and I refrain from commenting on. But I have a personal stake in what happens to the education system, the health care system and our economic system. In fact, I have a moral obligation to fight with those who are less fortunate than I have been, those who are not headed off to college in a week, those who are not covered by their parents surprisingly generous health insurance, those who have lost their livelihoods and their homes. I have these people on my conscience, and I strongly believe that you do as well, if I may infer from your work as a community organizer in your youth.

What I want to tell you is not to give in to the interests that have run this country for far too long. Don't let the banks that have ruined the lives of so many and the insurance companies that have killed so heartlessly win this fight for our future! Too much has already been sacrificed for our way of life to continue as it once did. Don't give in to those who would convince the people of our country (through shockingly transparent fear-mongering) that the way it was is the way it should stay. We cannot stay in the past, and we cannot let fear control our future.

Remember that while all great men and women did not enjoy high approval ratings among the ruling class, to the extent of giving their lives for their cause, their messages endure as visionary (Jesus was killed by the Romans, Gandhi challenged the British, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot by a white man, the Mirabel sisters from the Dominican Republic were killed by the Trujillo regime, and Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot by the US-backed Salvadorean army, to name but a few).

So, President Obama, as a young Latina heading off to college, full of hope and fear for my future and the future of my country, I'm asking you to please keep fighting the good fight, because we are counting on you to fight for us, we the disadvantaged in this country where money and influence shouldn't determine the value of any human being.


Cori Ring-Martinez

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