Dear Mr. President,
We hear a lot about transparency in government, and access to public officials. There are websites that can tell you just about anything you want to know about one issue or another, or about our elected officials. All this is well and good for those of us who have the luxury of time, a computer, and enough education to navigate our way through the various sites.
But what about the people that don’t have access, like the homeless, or people that are barely putting food on the table, let alone worrying about Internet access. How do these folks access their elected officials? The answer is, they don’t.
There are those that say the homeless can go to the library if they need to use a computer, but it’s never that simple. First they would need to get to the library, once there they would need to sign up for a time slot, and what if they are not familiar with the operation of the computer? Then they need assistance… and quite frankly, there are not a lot of people willing to sit next to someone who may smell unpleasant, or possibly have a communicable disease
These are the truly disenfranchised citizens in this country. Now you have to ask yourself another question… why haven’t there been significant steps taken to address the problem of homelessness in America? And why do we continue to slash programs for children and the poor. I can tell you in three simple words… “They Don’t Vote.” That’s right, the homeless, many of the poor, and of course, children don’t vote.
There are very few politicians who are even willing to address the problem because there is nothing in it for them except a few good sound bites at election time. Even Oprah came to Sacramento and caused a big stir about the homeless issue. She tried to shed some light on this ‘dirty little secret’ that most major metropolitan have, but choose to sweep under the rug, light so much garbage. There were meetings, and ideas bantered about while the spotlight was on Sacramento, but what actually happened to improve the situation? A good citizen offered to let the homeless camp on a lot he owned in the city, but complaints from the neighbors and city ordinances put the kibosh on that plan. So the homeless went back to various places along the American River, back to being anonymous, back to being ignored, back to being rousted from their campsites, back to losing their possessions, and back to oblivion.
Do these Americans really have a voice? Do they really have access to their elected officials? Not really Mr. President. So in the next couple of weeks I will be sending you letters from some of the homeless in Sacramento. I will ask them what they want to tell you, what they want you to know about their lives. I will be their voice. Look for those letters Mr. President, because even the homeless should have a voice.
The Gadfly Granny