President

On Obama's Short List

I hold in my hand a printout of the e-mail I just received from Barack Obama. Yes, I know it’s not green to use paper, but how else can I display it on my desk so co-workers can express awe, surprise, and most important, envy? The point is, I received a personal communication from, depending on which blog you read:

• A foreign-born Islamic extremist

• Socialist-in-Chief

• President of the United States

That’s right, President Barack Obama. The most powerful man in the most powerfully indebted nation in the world. Addressed to me, personally, and printed out by me, personally, so I can hold it in my hand and feel the power of being on The Inside. Not just inside the Beltway but below the Beltway. Wait, that came out wrong. Anyway, I am ... one of The Chosen.

Chosen to be in contact with the man who could be the most pivotal person in the history of the 21st century after Rush Limbaugh, a president not afraid of crisis. Because he knows the Chinese character for crisis is made up of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” Or possibly “turtle.” I can’t figure it out myself. To me the characters look like a guy reading under a tree with this huge fingerprint coming after him, which seems dangerous and he should stop reading and get the heck out of there. But I digress.

FOR SEVERAL MONTHS I’ve been incessantly checking my cell phone for a Blackberry message from the president, hoping that I’d be one of the half- dozen people on his speed dial. I was, after all, a major contributor to his campaign, and I enjoyed watching my $25 help correct an electoral system that has for two centuries discriminated against left-handed Hawaiians.

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Sojourners Magazine May 2009
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A Step Toward the Common Good

Several years ago, faced with a disastrous federal budget proposal, So­jou­rn­ers started using the phrase “budgets are moral documents.” That phrase has now entered the common lexicon, and it remains one of our fundamental principles.

Budgets reflect the values and priorities of a family, church, organization, city, state, or nation. They tell us what is most important and valued to those making the budget. So it is important that we do a “values audit” of President Barack Obama’s proposed budget, a “moral audit” of our priorities. Who benefits in this budget, what things are revealed as most important, and what things are less important? America’s religious communities are required to ask of any budget: What happens to the poor and most vulnerable—especially, what becomes of the nation’s poorest children in these critical decisions?

The values of the Ameri­can people should also be applied to the budget—for example, fairness (everyone paying their fair share); opportunity for all Ameri­cans; fiscal, personal, and social responsibility; balancing important and different priorities; defining security more broadly than only military considerations, taking into account economic and family security too; compassion and protection for the vulnerable; building community; and upholding the common good. After many years of working to reverse cuts that harmed those in poverty, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a proposed budget that benefits poor and low-income people.

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Sojourners Magazine May 2009
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