Eight Steps Obama Should Take Immediately

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Pensive Obama. President Obama swept into office eight years ago on a promise of hope and change founded on the importance of empathy, i.e., understanding the experience of the Other. Many people were inspired and deeply moved by his vision of hope, stated desire for change, and his seeming care for the well-being of all. And now many are deeply disappointed. We believe he has lost his way and has failed to stand for the values he articulated eight years ago. This is my call to President Obama to return to his highest values, values that are hard to hold when the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but values that we need even more now than we did eight years ago.
If what I share below resonates with you, please do two things: (1) copy it and send it to President Obama; (2) sign the Move-On petition I started here.
Dear President Obama,
You have less than two months in office and the incoming President-elect has, both through his statements and appointments thus far, indicated that many of the rights and issues you and those that elected support will very likely be dismantled in the next four years. In fact, the prospects for the next four years look rather bleak, if not downright terrifying.
You have an opportunity to show strong leadership and take decisive and immediate action on a number of significant issues.
I call upon you to take the following actions in your last month in office:
Standing Rock and the Environment
1. Immediately shut down the pipeline construction through Standing Rock in North Dakota. Demand that all work stop at the site immediately, withdraw all state police and the National Guard, and order the cessation of the pipeline construction. This needs to be done immediately to ensure the safety and well-being of the water protectors as well as for the long-term well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants.
2. Pardon all the water protectors and others who have been arrested, fined, or charged with any crimes for their actions at Standing Rock.
3. Call for the transition from fossil fuel to sustainable energy in the next 5 years.
Criminal Justice and Reform
4. Pardon all individuals who have been charged or convicted of nonviolent drug crimes both federally and at the state level. As you are well aware, many people, especially people of color, were swept up in the draconian war on drugs. It is time that they are freed and their civil rights are restored.
5. Remove marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug.
Healing Our Country
6. Establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal our country from our past wrongs both in terms of the genocide of Native Americans and slavery of African Americans. This one act alone would go a long way to healing the divide in our country by educating people as to what really occurred and finding ways to move forward that heal the legacy of our collective wrongs.
Restoring Our Democracy
7. Put forth a Constitutional Amendment that would (1) mandate that all federal and state elections be publicly funded and that no other money (whether from individuals, corporations or PACs) be allowed in elections; (2) eliminate the electoral college so that one person, one vote actually means one person, one vote; and (3) restore voting rights to all individuals who have served time for their crime; restore the Voting Rights Act; (4) create automatic voter registration for citizens as soon as they turn 18; (5) create an election weekend (both Saturday and Sunday) and require employers to provide paid leave to vote on one of the two days.
8. Grant U.S. diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.
President Obama, you spoke so eloquently about creating hope for the future, about the need for serious change in our country, and about the importance of caring so deeply for the Other that you walk in their shoes. Living these values requires more than words; it requires action. There is no better time than now to show that your words have meaning and that you are truly willing to stand behind them. The above actions are both doable and build a true sense of hope, compassion, and care, and equally importantly, would show the people who elected you that you are willing to fight for them. If you did these things, you would truly create a legacy for future generations.
If what I share above resonates with you, please do two things: (1) copy it and send it to President Obama; (2) sign the Move-On petition I started here.
Cat J. Zavis is Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Collaborative Lawyer, Mediator, and Teacher of Empathic Communication. She can be reached at cat@spiritualprogressives.org.