By the People, For the People: AlterNet Readers Send Their Messages to Obama

100 Words for 100 Days has been an on-going project that we here at AlterNet launched, fittingly enough, over Thanksgiving weekend. We asked our readers to submit essays, around one hundred words in length, describing what they hoped Obama's first one hundred days in office would look like. Whether they were broad visions or exact policy examination, we wanted to know what was on the minds of members of the AlterNet community.


The response we received was overwhelming. Hundreds of submissions poured in, and many still arrive every day. Our readers have jumped at the chance to let their voices be heard, hoping that Obama's call for ideas from everyday Americans wasn't an empty campaign promise, but a foundation for a more democratic tomorrow.

Below we've assembled just a few of our readers' submissions; those that touch on the issues that most concerned AlterNet readers, from the economy to drug laws, foreign policy to investigating the Bush administration. But these are just a handful of the many submissions we received. We will be sending all of the essays that were published to the Obama transition team in hopes that the voices of our readers are heard by the soon to be established administration.

To view more of our readers' insightful work, please visit our 100 Words for 100 Days project page.

Worried that it's too late for you to join the conversation? Not at all. Leave your hopes and dreams for Obama's first one hundred days in the comments below. Lastly, and most importantly, a huge thank you to each and every individual who participated in the 100 Words for 100 Days project. Your essays were inspiring, and we look forward to asking for more submissions from our readers in the future. Let's hope that January 20, 2009 ushers in a true spirit of "by the people, for the people."

100 Words for 100 Days

Honor the Constitution

By: Matthew Graybosch

For over a hundred years, for Bush is not the only one guilty of this crime, our presidents have been oath-breakers. They swore to preserve and protect the Constitution. In reality, they ignored inconvenient provisions of the Constitution while paying lip service to the parts they liked. What will Barack Obama do? Will he be an oath-breaker like his predecessors? Or will he honor the Constitution and persuade Congress to do the same by working within its limits? Will Obama persuade Congress to amend the Constitution instead of ignoring it? Will he use the right methods to reform the U.S. government and help the people of the United States, instead of deciding that the end justifies the means? That would be change I can believe in.

Rekindle Trust in the Government

By: Mary Hunter

The biggest step Barack Obama could take in his first 100 days would be to rekindle some degree of trust in the government. The most profound way to do this would be to instigate clean election processes on the federal level. To begin to disconnect legislators from corporate contributions would eventually enable real change on the economy, health care, the environment and our endless military adventures. Imagine what it would feel like to believe the government was actually working for the ordinary people who fund it! Obama's campaign put a down payment on that kind of future; now it's time for the rest.

Take a Global Approach to Economic Problems

By: Joan Scott

During his campaign, Barack Obama radiated a spirit of including all factors, even hatemongers. He should extend that inclusiveness to economics. Like it or not, globalization has happened. We should stop hearing about the "American economy" and make "global economy" our primary concern. Companies should stop the costly duplication of things like research in their wasteful wars of competition. They should learn to cooperate openly and fully -- this will be healthier for a global approach and in the spirit of service to humanity seeking that all create the best product in the ecologically safest way, not just customers of one specific company.

Invest in Industry and Solar and Wind Power

By: R. Heymann

We must invest productive capital in the United States of America. We must rebuild our civilian goods manufacturing capability. A country without the ability to create and sustain advanced manufacturing facilities is a country that wheels and deals in phony "engineered products" (read: Wall Street). We must stop thinking in terms of Eternal Warfare. This fallacious policy is driving us into bankruptcy. We must think in terms of solar and wind power and invest accordingly. We must think in terms of national health insurance, as have all Western European countries going back to the days of Bismarck's Prussia. We must develop an industrial policy, and we must learn that planning is not a socialist disease but the only way to create good-paying jobs and secure a good and happy future for our children.

Ban Torture, Fire Blackwater, and Get Our Troops Out of Iraq

By: Carol Marsh

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Please ban torture, kidnapping and rendition and order Guantanamo and other secret prisons closed. Please reinstate the Bill of Rights and the rule of law. Restore habeas corpus. Fire Blackwater.

I appreciate your plans to switch to clean, renewable fuels while rebuilding the economy with green infrastructure. Please strengthen the Endangered Species Act, and halt the killing of wolves, even in Alaska. Especially in Alaska.

Get our troops out of Iraq. In Afghanistan, please stop bombing civilians and focus on hearts and minds, building schools and clinics and roads using local people.

End the War on Drugs

By: Gene Tinelli, MD, PhD

Immediately establish a Presidential Commission to examine our current drugs policy, asking former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders to be its Chairperson. Bias the selection of Committee members from those in the public health and harm reduction communities. We need to end the current war on drugs, especially since this is not a war on drugs but a war on people, particularly poor people of color. Make the public health system, rather than the criminal justice system, our priority in this area.

Bailout America's Homeless

By: Ruben Botello

Barack Obama should provide jobs, housing, healthcare and other vital services for all our nation's homeless during his first 100 days as President because it is the homeless who are suffering most during these hard times. The entire weight of our nation's economic crisis is on their shoulders as these destitute Americans struggle to survive from day-to-day. If Wall Street and major corporations need bailouts, imagine how much more of a bailout or rescue plan America's homeless need. I have yet to see or hear anyone express any significant concern about the plight of America's homeless during these hard times.

Investigate the Crimes of George W. Bush

By: Eldon McMath

The most important thing that should be done, not just in the first 100 days, but on the first day, is for the new Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the crimes of the George W. Bush administration. Otherwise, we should take the words "and justice for all" out of our preamble.The next thing that should be done is for the President to begin a WPA style work program and create jobs for the millions that have lost their jobs during the Bush administration. The second thing that needs to be done is to pass single payer health insurance, administered by the Government for the purpose of taking the health insurance costs off the shoulders of businesses and workers. Health insurance of this type would cost a small fraction of what it now cost and people who are currently without insurance would be covered.

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