a new world

president-elect obama promised a transparent government, and he’s already begun with change.gov.  among many wonderful features of the website, like a blog and profile of each new position as they’re added, people can send suggestions of what they think should be done in the new administration.  i read an article recently, a national mobility project, by david brooks, who is one of my favorite political commentators even though he’s conservative and have been inspired to submit my own suggestion.  i believe (hope) they’ll listen.

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

I have been insanely effected by your campaign.  Beginning at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, I was energized by your words and have been increasingly grateful throughout your campaign and now your election that you exist.  For the first time in my life, and many of my friends lives, I am proud to be an American (just like Michelle!) and excited to be a part of such a wonderful time in our country’s history.  In spite of (or maybe even because of) the economic difficulties we’re going through right now, we have begun the process of putting our differences behind us and we’re learning how to embrace the things that make us human.  I believe we’re a good people, we just needed to get behind someone who could allow us to see past the pain we’ve all experienced together.

Thank you.

But that’s not the only reason I wrote today.  I wanted to give you my suggestion on what we could do to move forward.  I read this article by David Brooks (I’m not smart enough to have thought of this on my own), A National Mobility Project, and was inspired to ask your administration to consider the following ideas, if you haven’t already.

  1. Invest in public transportation systems.  I live in Memphis, TN, and our MATA is terrible.  It’s late, unreliable, dirty, inconvenient and frankly only the lowest income folks take advantage of it’s service (and I use “take advantage” loosely because really they’re more forced to because there is no alternative).  I had to use it in college and while it got me to school and back most of the time, I quickly turned to riding a bike, which is equally unpleasant in a city with no bike lanes and some pretty crappy drivers who didn’t like sharing the road.  Not to mention the obvious environmental benefits of less people driving.
  2. Invest in renewing the highways and mobile infrastructure of our cities.  I also work for FedEx, the largest transportation company in the country (world?), and not only would we benefit from better highways, but so would our economy.  And the lower income folks who could be employed by such a massive project would totally get so many people through this economic crisis.  It would cost money but it would be money well spent and worth the effort.  Like the New Deal.

Thank you so much for offering us this forum for advice and suggestions from “real people.”  I can’t express enough how grateful I am to finally have the opportunity to explore this side of my own personality.  I didn’t realize until Election night how mentally separated I had been regarding Washington and government in general.  I’m looking forward to the next 8 years (yes, I meant to say 8).

Cathi Holmes

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