President Obama, Meet Us In the Square

News — the tar sands action team September 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Dear President Obama—

Earlier this year you walked across Lafayette Square to meet with the Chamber of Commerce officials, who have spent more money defeating progressive candidates than any other group in our nation. You joked that you wished you’d done it sooner, and that you should have brought them a plate of cookies when you moved in.

Maybe tomorrow you could take the time to walk half that far, to see a big cross-section of us, many of who worked to get you elected. We’ve conducted the largest civil disobedience protest in many years on your front door for the last two weeks, with more than a thousand Americans from every state in the union getting arrested. The only response we’ve heard from the White House is your press secretary saying he had chosen not to discuss our action with you.

We’re opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline because it’s an environmental disaster. It scars the landscape where the tarsands are mined, it presents unacceptable risks of spills in crucial parts of the American interior, and it’s a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent. Your premier climate scientist, NASA’s James Hansen, who was arrested earlier this week, said heavy exploitation of the tar sands would mean it was “essentially game over” for the climate.

You alone will get to make the choice of whether to grant a “presidential certificate of national interest” to this project. We hope you’ll join us to hear our assessment of the project. We don’t have as much money as the Chamber of Commerce, but maybe that shouldn’t always be the deciding factor.


Bill McKibben

  1. John Richter says:

    Thanks for all of your (plural) hard work.

    If Obama does not stand up for the environment, I won’t lift a finger for him in 2012–and I canvassed regularly with other students for him in 2008.

    • ChrisC says:

      I share your frustration with some of the decisions being made by the Obama Admin but I must remind you-SUPREME COURT JUDGES and the power they have grabbed in the last 10 years. They are now making laws instead of interpreting them which is suppose to be their function. So if you enjoy corporate rule, help the GOP by not participating. Until we change how we elect officials, we have to play with these rules.

      • Joesnodgrass4160 says:

        If one thinks “we have to play with these rules” than we’ve already lost. Progressive change comes by action, not accepting the status quo. I will vote democrat, but fight for change and true representation. Is it a sign of weakness to walk across the lawn and listen to what the citizens have to say? I’m traveling 1600 miles, 20+ hours, in October to have the opportunity to voice my opinion. Is it too much to ask for anyone to take a half hour and go a few yards to do the same? Respect is a two way street, you get what you give and I’ll not give up my right to express my opinion in a respectful manor, even if they want to call it civil disobedience.

      • Anonymous says:

        So work downticket to elect progressive Congress members that will thwart Obama’s caving to the Republicans over and over. Work for candidates you can believe in, instead of Obama, who it is hard to have any faith in anymore.

        The benefit will be the voters you send to the polls will at least help avert a GOP president.

  2. DidYouKnow says:

    P.S. The global citizens, united in SOLIDARITY and counted by 10s-of-100s-of-thousands do NOT and WILL NOT accept your public-relation strategy of “feigned ignorance” to every one of our voices and nations’ need.

  3. Bob says:

    You guys still haven’t figured out that the president is SUPPOSED to lie to us and screw us over?? Duh! Who do you think gets in office? People that voted more for one guy over another? Hahahahaha guys…. the presidential elections are all rigged!! Whoever gets in is pre-selected by the international bankers that fund whomever they want to win way before it goes to the polls. The elections continue to exist only to make you feel you have a choice. You don’t. Voting is done electronically, and it is and will continue to be rigged to slide the vote to whomever they have selected. The person that gets in needs the most money. Nobody has more money than the international bankers that control our government through the Federal Reserve. They agree to get a certain guy in for the agreement that they lie to us about wanting to fix things with our country so that we will vote for them. Once they get in, they don’t do anything except cater to the wishes of Wall Street. Why do you think there are banks being bailed out all the time? It doesn’t matter who gets in cause both parties are controlled by the same bosses. LOL

  4. Anonymous says:

    My small business does not work with the Chamber of Commerce in our area because of the National Chamber of Commerce’s politics. I’d rather go the hard way than give them any money or support.

    • Sally G says:

      Thank you; there are corporations that, like you, have pulled out of the CoC (Apple comes to mind). I know that local chambers are often better than the national group, but still they are a part, so I do honor your choice.
      Best wishes for continued success.

  5. Today is the day! Imagine Roosevelt or Kennedy in the position of President Obama. They would at least come out and shake some hands and give the appearance of listening to their constituents parked on the front step, day after day for two weeks. Today is the day! Obama must come out and greet and acknowledge. That would be step one. Step two is to sign the veto. I voted for Obama because he pledged to develop renewable energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. I’m still waiting to see him make good on that promise, waiting and ready. This is the test, the symbol. I stand in solidarity with the protesters. Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

  6. Windysky65 says:

    if Obama doesn’t meet with you, it will be time to find a worthy opponent to run as an Independant/Progressive in the 2012 presidential race.

  7. jerusha says:

    The first time I demonstrated in Washington I was a teenager, it was the sixties, and Kennedy was in the White House. We were demonstrating against the nuclear arms race; the protest was called “Turn Toward Peace” As a sign of friendship (if not agreement) Kennedy sent out hot chocolate for the marchers. C’mon Obama, come out and watch and listen to some of the people who helped put you where you are.

  8. Sky says:

    It’s high time we send a real message by getting rid of both parties and vote for a sensible progressive.

  9. Peter L. Dollins says:

    At 69 I’ve demonstrated and been in radical politics a long time. (No longer physically active.) But they now practice ‘false imprisonment’ over here in the UK. Started under Blair–what a wonderful man–and continued by the Coalition. With the so-called Liberals, or Lib-Dems now. People need to get together to defend the hard worn rights and improvements of my parents generation. See Nicholas Shaxton’s book ‘Treasure Islands, Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World.’ If I have the spelling of his name correct. Right now things are disheartening, after the progress of the Sixties. It will need a lot of people working together across National Frontiers and within them to bring back that progress.

    Obama has turned out to be a false reed. He plays the songs of war, of the military, of the banks and their ilk. What a disappointment, not only for the US, but for the world too.

  10. Laurelhocak says:

    I voted for Obama, believing he was the better choice, even though I am what people label as a” conservative Christian”, because I believe in the Ten Commandments and I am against the taking of innocent life (abortion) and I believe in the Sovereign God of the Bible. Genesis 2:15 our Creator put the first humans in the earth and told them to tend it, not selfishly exploit and destroy it!
    I remember the first Earth Day and participated in a demonstration in my high school on that day. Since I was young I knew to respect this earth that God has given us. It has always made me sad at election time how the party lines are drawn so hard and fast and opposite. I fit neither category. I am sad to see church goers not obeying God’s instructions to appreciate and be good stewards if all He has given us. It’s hard to vote when you have to
    choose a party” package”. I think we should do better than party politics. I think we all need to examine our consciences and just do what our hearts tell us is right.
    God’s Word is true.” The Love of money is a root of all evil. ” The native people had it right. Theirs was an economy based on giving, not taking.

    • Sally G says:

      I thank you. Although I am an atheist and a supporter of accessibility to abortion (though I have never believed that it ever is, or should be, undertaken lightly), I find we have much in common in our approach to our common resources, our respect for the natural world, and our understanding of the importance of giving, sharing, and stewardship. I, too, want to look beyond political parties, and I have recently reinforced my choice to donate/work for only candidates in whose integrity I believe. No more disappointments, unless they do not win. No more postelection surprises if I can help it.
      Glad to have you with us.

      • Laurel Hocak says:

        I am ashamed to say that it took this scary XL pipeline business to get me back on my knees praying for our President and our nation’s leaders, which I should have been doing all along instead of just venting my frustrations and having a negative attitude about how they are doing things.
        Our president did, I do believe, start out with good intentions. He was handed a huge mess when he took office, and I believe he has tried to do what is right. Yes, compromising and caving in to pressure is wrong, but haven’t we all caved in to something at sometime? None of us is perfect. Only our Creator is perfect and has all of the answers. That is why I pray for His will to be done. I only have inner peace with Him.
        I understand why some don’t believe that He exists. But it is in the most desperate of times when there is nothing humans can do about a situation that God shows us Himself as only He can. I have seen what only He can do. Ask Him to show you and he will.

  11. Sally G says:

    THANK YOU, BILL! A great letter; should have gotten the courtesy of at least a wave from the front door. Instead, a slap in the face on ozone regulation.
    Green Party, anyone? Or primary challenge?

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