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Hey Barack, why haven’t you called?

July 18, 2009

I’m disappointed. I had you down for a web 2.0, co-creation type. I saw you double-task like a 12 year-old: Blackberry in your left hand, conducting a live town meeting with your right hand. During the campaign, you were so organized that three of my friends asked me to vote for you and I’m not even a citizen (one of them even offered to do the paperwork for me, but TSA talked him out of it). You had me blogging, participating in neighborhood parties and urging others to give money.

But since you’ve been elected, I haven’t heard from you. O.K., that’s not exactly true. I’ve seen a lot of you on TV. But it’s all about big top-down programs like TARP, stimulus packages and universal healthcare, driven out of D.C. I don’t live in D.C. I live in Concord, Massachusetts. You’ve stopped calling on me. What happened? I never bought the “war as a metaphor” thing when it came to drugs and terrorism. But the economy, man, that’s a real war. Some of my friends have been laid off or have lost their house. I also have a small business and I know how tough it is. So I’m ready to fight. Why aren’t you calling?

You tell me what to do. If you want to do healthcare, I’ll work something out in my little circle. I’ll start with cost. I’ll get everybody to lose weight and become healthy in my small business. I may have to start with myself on this one. I’ll go negotiate a special deal for my company with my local doctors and hospitals. Better yet, I’ll enlist the other small businesses from downtown Concord to come with me and we’ll wrestle out a new arrangement from both care providers and the local insurance company (they don’t get along too well anyhow, so we’ll teach them how to co-create with us at the center). Maybe we’ll start a citizen’s initiative that finds out who’s been denied coverage locally and we’ll force the insurance companies to include them if they want our business. But you gotta give me direction, Barack. Provide me with legitimacy and tools to engage these doctors, insurance companies and left-out people.

If your agenda is jobs, I’ll hire a few kids out of college, just to help. I’ll organize internships for high-schoolers. With the other businesses in Concord, we’ll put together summer programs (“learn to be a CPA, a grocer, a consultant, a garage mechanic, all in one summer”). We’ll discover who’s really good at what and we’ll hire them (I say this with the smugness of the guy who thinks he can outbid the local Jiffy Lube, but I might be in for a surprise). Their parents will want to come to our shops and buy services from us because we’re nice to their kids. I’ll stop treating my home town like a stopover place on my global itinerary. But again, Barack, you gotta give me leadership and support.

I know you’re going to say I could so some of these things on my own: volunteer at the hospital or recruit a couple of kids. But I want to be part of a BIG THING. I want a vision, a massive mobilization, an inspiration. I’m thinking “going to the moon” forty years later. If you do that for me, Barack, I may even start feeling good about your hitting me for more taxes. Just call me. I’m shovel-ready.

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