…there is nothing to know. Did we really expect anything else?
Remember last Friday when I posted a letter here that I had emailed the White House asking President Barack Obama not to sell out elders in regard to Social Security?
Yesterday, Tuesday, I received a reply. Well, I assume it is a reply to that note since I haven’t sent any others in the past couple of months. It’s hard to tell since there is zero reference to me or to the subject of my letter:
January 31, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas. I appreciate hearing from you.
Our Nation faces serious challenges, and we will only overcome them by involving all Americans in shaping the policies that affect their own lives. My Administration is continuously working to engage individuals in innovative ways. I encourage you to explore www.WhiteHouse.gov, which is regularly updated and more interactive than ever before.
Thank you, again, for contacting me and providing your thoughtful suggestions.
Not even a personalized salutation like “Dear Ms. Bennett” or an “about Social Security” at the end of the first sentence.
I have no doubt many of you have received similar communications in response to your own messages to Congress or the president – that is, polite, knee-jerk phrases completely devoid of meaningful information.
What a bunch of hooey. I feel like a third grader who’s been patted on the head by her elders for doing good work in school today.
I am torn in two directions about this stuff. On the one hand, I understand that there is not enough money for the White House (or members of Congress) to hire the number of people – smart ones, too – who would be needed to read through, consider and give a thoughtful response to every letter received.
On the other hand, it infuriates me that the only people who can get the president’s (or a Congress member’s) attention for a serious conversation about real issues are captains of industry and finance or those (usually the same ones) who can bundle millions of dollars for election super-PACs – as though the accumulation of money is the definition of intelligence, knowledge and thoughtfulness.
It seems to me that this system precludes – entirely – any conversation and policy ideas that do not benefit the wealthy to the detriment of everyone else.
It’s not that I don’t see the problems – probably insurmountable – in taking seriously letters from citizens. A large number of them are from cranks and crazies. I know this from hundreds of pieces of fan mail delivered every day that, in my youthful employment on radio and TV shows, were my job to plow through.
A whole lot more are from people who have no idea what they’re talking about along with those who just want to chat, let the president know what’s going on in their family and by the way, could he send an autographed photo.
Oh, and don’t forget the ones spewing pages of vitriol about how stupid the president is and how much he is hated. That leaves one or two in a hundred that are legitimate questions or thoughts that in a perfect world should require a reasonable response and maybe even a conversation.
An aide to Senate Leader Harry Reid once told me that the positions in all letters to senators are tracked. That is, if you write your senator supporting a bill, that’s added into the others and compared to the number of letters that oppose the bill. (The aide did not say if the totals affect the senators’ votes.)
I wonder if the White House tracks numbers of letters it receives on various policy issues.
Meanwhile, off on a tangent: Do you suppose there is such a thing as federal government or presidential grammar? If you look at the nation’s founding documents, you’ll see that compared with what we use today, 18th century scribes had interesting ideas about which words to capitalize.
Look at the capitalization in part of the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…”
Odd isn’t it, capitalizing People, Order, Justice, Blessings, etc. Now look at the capitalization in part of the email note from the White House:
“Our Nation faces serious challenges, and we will only overcome them by involving all Americans in shaping the policies that affect their own lives. My Administration…”
Nation? Administration? Weird.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Put on a Happy Face