Friday, March 23, 2018

Stephen Franks: Barack Obama is not too busy with golf and Sir John Key to write to me


Today Obama emailed me personally despite his busy schedule in Auckland. He asked me to get active for the Democrats. Im sharing his message with you, at the end of this post.

Former NZ PMs often regard it as bad form to stay active in partisan politics after retirement. There is a feeling they should give their successors a reasonable shot at maturing into office and effective leadership without a predecessors sniping.

That was also a convention in the US.


But not now. Not in the Montagu v Capulet acidity of the USA
s tribal democracy.

Since Trumps victory the legendary Democrat internet comms machine has been running hot. It was created by Obama to win the Presidency.

A Democrat supporter can expect a personalised email almost every day over the signature of some Democrat notable, including Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Sometimes there are two in a single day.

Most ask for money. They often refer to events in the recipient
s locality.

I signed up all those years ago out of curiousity. Ive never sent money because it is unlawful for US politicians to receive foreign funds, though some of the pitches have been compelling. Hillarys campaign sent some great messages, though the hindsight slagging of it is not entirely unfair. Contempt for the values of ordinary Americans seeped through in many repulsively partisan messages.

But Obamas message today matches his dignity.

From: Barack Obama
Date: 22 March 2018 at 4:24:26 AM NZDT
To:
Subject: 2018:
Reply-To:


Organizing for Action

A little over a year ago, at my farewell address in Chicago, I asked you to believe. Not in a candidate, or a politician, or a party — in yourself.

In your own ability to make a difference in your community and your country.

For eight years in the White House — and long before that — I’d seen it happen time and time again: ordinary people who got involved, stayed involved, and pushed for a better future for this country we love.

That’s how change happens.

And this November, we have a chance to make that change happen in local and federal elections across the country. We cannot squander it.

Commit to vote in November 2018. Say you’ll fulfill your duty as a citizen, and that you’ll keep pushing for progress.

That faith I placed all those years ago in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change — that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

In the past year, I saw people like Kim, an OFA volunteer in Virginia, bravely share her story during the health care fight — of how, before Obamacare, her 13-month-old son Isaac was on the verge of being kicked off insurance as he went through surgery after surgery. She spoke up, and helped save health care for Isaac and millions of Americans.

I saw folks in South Carolina identify a problem with their town’s outdated, dangerous school buses — then roll up their sleeves, do some organizing, and get the statehouse to fund new buses for Charleston’s kids.

And I saw a new generation of young leaders grab clipboards, collect signatures, and decide to run for office themselves.

Throughout 2017, I saw Americans all over the country step up, have the tough conversations, and speak out about the issues affecting us all. We have to keep it up in 2018 — because every ballot measure, every election, every conversation on an issue we care about — it all matters.

There are no do-overs.

So right now, I’m asking you to make a commitment: Seize the power you have. Speak up. Make this democracy work. Do not succumb to cynicism. And say you’ll vote in 2018 — there’s too much at stake this year to sit this out.

I’m in.

Thank you,
Barack Obama

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Stephen Franks is a principal of Wellington law firm Franks & Ogilvie and a former MP. He blogs at www.stephenfranks.co.nz.

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