Dear Barack: The season is upon us when we’re starting to hear all the familiar jingles. I feel an imminent blizzard, deluging us from all directions, deep enough to truly snow us over. Seems like only yesterday, the air was filled with the sounds of Hope, Hope, Hope. You lit our imaginations, like a massive Christmas tree brimming with sparkly ornaments, dangling with promises. Peace. Healthcare. Clean energy. Immigration reform. Green jobs. Good schools. I can still see the colors–blues and reds, blacks and whites–all blurring together into a blissful dreamland or bipartisanship and post-racialism. I recall the frenzied excitement, the raised expectations, the elixir of hope–like a wide-eyed child waiting to open countless coveted presents. When the big day finally came, I waited for the goods to be delivered. I kept waiting and waiting for the changes I believed in. And then a few things started arriving. But they weren’t what I had asked for. Bank bailouts. Extended tax cuts for the wealthy. Expanded war. Stepped up immigration enforcement. Trickle down economic stimulus. Racing to the top of school competition and privatization. Watered down health care reform. Even lumps of coal cleverly packaged as “clean.” My head was spinning with one serious holiday hangover. I know, I know. I’m not even supposed to believe in you, let alone blame you. You’re only one person and not the Second Coming. I’m just having a rough time coping with another election season, when my hopes have been shattered like shards of ornaments strewn at the base of a shaken, barren tree. If it weren’t for my hope and imagination, I’d be a long goner. I still harbor visions of peace on Earth and joyful nations rising. Laughing children in clean schools and new playgrounds. Happy families, healthy, well fed and comfortably sheltered. Nothing too grandiose. Though I admit, now and then, I still entertain dreams of ending poverty, war, environmental destruction, economic exploitation, racism and sexism. I imagine prison walls being broken and borders being bridged. Truth be told, I still fancy visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head, loving–even marrying–whomever they want. So I’m making a list. And checking it twice. I’m keeping it simple, and trying to be nice. I’ll even pass on the iPad and nix the Xbox. I’m just asking for a little love for my simple list, so here it is: 1. Peace. 2. Good jobs. 3. Great schools. 4. Human rights. 5. Healthcare for all. 6. Affordable homes. 7. Renewable energy. 8. Environmental protection 9. Immigrant rights and dignity. 10. Race, gender and economic equity. I know my short list is a tall order. But I’d wager that a good 99 percent might have similar interests, if they were the least bit demanding. If my memory isn’t too foggy, some of these were in your bag of tricks last time round. So they shouldn’t come as any surprise. You’ve even had a few eloquent things to say about more than one of them. OK, maybe you haven’t said much about racial equity, which is understandable, but I’m still making it part of my bottom line. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because I know you’ve come through on more than a few things. I’d just ask that you stick to my list this time round. I’m no longer expecting miracles. And I know it’s gonna take a whole movement to raise some real hope and change. In the spirit of the season, I’m just making my wishes clear. I still wanna believe in you, but you gotta deliver the goods! Happy holidays, Hopelessly Hopeful P.S. If you’re not able to make good on any of this, I promise to be good all year by helping to create the movement that will bring about the change I can believe in.