Democracy in the Dust: A Letter to George Bush

It’s a little dangerous for the preacher to get political, I know.

It’s risky to speak truth to power, but the fact of the matter is, while government needs to keep itself out of institutional religion, our faith informs who we are as citizens of this country and of the world. If our faith doesn’t compel us to speak out, what will?

The commuting of Scooter Libby’s sentence this week was the last straw for me. Today, on the birthday of our country, I thought I’d write a letter to our leader to let him know what I think.

Opinions expressed here are solely my own, as you know.

Dear Mr. Bush:

Happy birthday to us, and all that.

Truthfully, I’m rather wary of this holiday, as it seems more and more to me that we’re celebrating a distant dream rather than a hopeful reality. You know what I mean?

I didn’t think so.

I have to tell you, I know being a leader is not the easiest task, especially when effective leadership means bucking the status quo, challenging current systems and ushering in new hope for the future.

I feel for you, really I do.

I know it’s not easy, but I must ask: is there really a need to up-end democracy in such a flagrant manner as you have repeatedly, consistently done during your time in office?

We must take responsibility, I know, for putting you there (twice). Although I myself did not contribute to that effort either time, I’m wondering if I didn’t sit by too idle and uninvolved while others did?

This most recent decision of yours, to make sure Scooter Libby escapes a prison term, while not surprising, seems to be the last straw for me. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines while you destroy our country’s international reputation, alienate our neighbors, and slowly chip away at the freedoms that have made our country great.

Maybe you feel you’re protected enough to behave in whatever manner you want, to leave democracy and the American people in the dust while you keep your friends happy, but I want you to know I’m tired of it all. For the first time in my adult life I am genuinely alarmed about the kind of country I will be handing off to my kids.

I’m not hoping, of course, that you will see the light, change your ways, fix the damage you’ve done . . . it’s, frankly, far too extensive by now. I just wanted to say: I am disappointed in you . . . disappointed that you don’t have the courage to be a visionary leader to a country with such promise. You missed the boat, but I, for one, will not stand by anymore while you leave democracy in the dust.

Happy birthday, America. May the world remember the promise of this country and stand by us as we try to pick up the dream, dust it off, and reinvent it for the future.

10 Comments on “Democracy in the Dust: A Letter to George Bush

  1. Thanks, Pastor. This is all good, but I like this part, perhaps the most:

    I’m not hoping, of course, that you will see the light, change your ways, fix the damage you’ve done . . . it’s, frankly, far too extensive by now. I just wanted to say: I am disappointed in you . . . disappointed that you don’t have the courage to be a visionary leader to a country with such promise. You missed the boat, but I, for one, will not stand by anymore while you leave democracy in the dust.

  2. WOW!

    Um… that’s all I can really coherently get out.

    Seriously, this was extremely well written and amazingly well articulated.

    Go you!

  3. Too late for redemption? Never!

    “I’m not hoping, of course, that you will see the light, change your ways, fix the damage you’ve done … it’s, frankly, far too extensive by now.”

    You’re not even hoping that he will see the light?
    “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” – Mat 19:26

  4. Amy,

    I came to your blog via reading Bruce Prescott’s blog. You’ll pardon me if I’m not as euphoric as others who have commented and circulated your letter across the blogisphere.

    I’m curious if the the commuting of Libby’s sentence was the “last straw”, what was the first straw? Was it because he is a conservative Republican? Was it because he is pro-life? Was it because he has been determined to fight the war on terrorism? Was it because you may have voted for John Kerry in the last election?

    One only has to look at your article about the Dixie Chicks to know where you are coming from. Your subtle dig at the President not being very smart is typical of the Bush-hating crowd. I wonder if you were as indignant about President Bill Clinton when he sold pardons for his new library? I didn’t see an article when Sandy Burger (Burglar) lifted classified documents from the National Archives and got a slap on the wrist. Would it be fair to say you have selective outrage?

    You and Mr. Prescott probably have several things in common, but one for sure. You only allow comments with which you agree with. Please mark it down there is one Southern Baptist pastor from Oklahoma who disagrees with you and sees your letter as nothing more than cheap political grandstanding!

  5. Oh my! Must have struck a nerve as many are sending me emails and commenting here. I appreciate previous commenter Jim Paslay sharing his opinion here and, of course, I am delighted to print it; it does, in fact, happen from time to time that folks disagree with me!

    Here’s the text from an email I received earlier today. I tried to remove identifying details because I wanted to share these well-articulated thoughts here:

    You don’t know me, but I am a regular reader of EthicsDaily and saw your letter to President Bush in today’s issue. I just wanted to shout, “YES!!” I totally agree with you concerning our country. I feel that it has been hijacked and find myself constantly shaking my head and thinking, “how is this (whatever the latest decision coming out of the White House) possible?” I grew up in a time when we were always the good guys . . . now I know that in reality that image is not exactly correct but it is the image I had of our country as I grew-up. I no longer feel that way. Preemptive war, Abu Ghraib, tax breaks for the wealthy, Katrina, the treatment of the least of these, etc., etc. etc. have changed all of that. Most of all, I think it is the incredible blatant arrogance of this administration that scares me. It’s like we have a dictator, rather than a president, handing down edicts, above the law. I have friends who have the days left of the Bush Administration counting down on their computers. It can’t come soon enough for me! I just pray that our next President is qualified (maybe someone who at least has been outside the U.S. prior to inauguration), truly compassionate, wise, and especially able to gather people around him/her who have differing perspectives on issues. I am hopeful because I think there may be several who fit that bill. Of course, Bush and crowd have dug such a deep hole that I marvel that anyone actually wants the job! There is so much to be done just to repair the damage, much less to go forward in a progressive way to help fix the problems of our world.

    My family just returned from D.C. where we went to all the memorials, etc. After we had gone through the Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR memorials and I had read every word on every wall, it occurred to me that these three men had led during times of great turmoil in our nation and had led with great wisdom bringing the nation through the turmoil. I was struck by the fact that George Bush also led our nation through a time of great turmoil after 911. We had the love and support of most of the world at that moment. A moment, if capitalized upon, we could have used to unite people across the world to deal with some of the root problems that produce terrorists in the first place. But that goodwill and resolve were squandered away by this Administration and instead of uniting us around the incredible “can do” attitude of the people of this country they played on our fears in order to restrict our freedoms and to transfer more and more power to themselves. Instead of President Bush being remembered one day in the same way we pay honor to the likes of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt I believe he will be remembered as one of the worst Presidents our country has ever had to endure. It is a shame for him, but so much more for our country and even the world. It seems he arrived on the scene at the worst possible time. However, in spite of it all, I am still hopeful. Perhaps that comes from being an American, but I suspect it primarily comes from being a Christian who has faith that God can bring good from bad. I will certainly work to that end “deep in the heart of Texas” and I can tell from your letter that you will be doing the same.

  6. Thanks for the letter.

    So, your comment is political grandstanding and Jim’s response is not, interesting.

  7. Amy, thanks for sharing this with everyone. You’ve set an example for Christians by expressing your frustration and disagreement in a manner that is consistent with the principles of scripture.

    I agree with Jason. It’s never too late for redemption. I hope the people of our country can get past the polarization, self interest of single-issue politics, and animosity that has, at least in my opinion, produced such an early season rush to campaign for the White House and elect someone who, regardless of their political party affiliation, will represent the interests of America and its people as a whole, and not just one segment of it.

    Jim Paslay missed out on a chance to have anyone take his perspective seriously by his choice of words. He could have articulated his position as intelligently, gently and respectfully as Amy did, which would have been what I’d have expected from a Southern Baptist pastor from Oklahoma. Perhaps he was taken by surprise that his comment was allowed to appear on the blog.

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