Critique this letter to my sister, who usually votes Republican

I can’t get to next week without sharing with my sister, who I love more than just about anybody in the whole world, why I feel so strongly about Barack Obama. We are not known on my family for having intimate talks, but letters/e-mails are sometimes more easily “digested”. Now, I don’t want to seem like a witnessing religious nut, and this thing started out being just the first paragraph, but I felt like maybe I should just go for it and make my best case to her, in the simplest terms I know. So here goes:

She is a family person who loves her husband/children fiercely, she’s a hard worker, she’s smart, but she has always lived in a small town and has never quite gotten outside of the influence of that “bubble”, which is pretty much the only reason I added the second video, because I would think that might slay her like it slays me. I don’t want to put any of the negative “our economy’s in the crapper”-type stuff in there. I’m sure she’s heard it all.

Fellow Obama supporters, I know you don’t know her and you don’t know me, but—whaddaya think?

I’m not American, so I’m technically not an Obama or McCain supported, but I thought I’d chip in my two cents.

While your intentions are obviously good, if I was your sister I would either ignore or be slightly annoyed at your e-mail. It comes across as a little bit condescending - the implication is that if she’s not voting for Obama, it’s because she has bought into the false allegations that he is a Muslim, etc. and/or she’s racist. If she’s intelligent and relatively well informed, your e-mail is not going to sway her. Have a conversation with her if you must, but I suspect she has reasons for voting the way she does, and you telling her that you REALLY REALLY like Obama probably isn’t going to be terribly persuasive. She may very well understand why you like him and what he stands for - that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s the candidate for her.

The inside that you don’t know (and how would you, which is the problem with me asking for a critique, but oh well!), is that we’re both aware of and have talked about racism we’ve seen in our own hometown in Ohio, so she knows I’m not suggesting she’s racist. But we both know it’s all around her in the small town where she lives (we talk about that too).

If I got something like that from a relative, I’d either be annoyed, or just discard it as more drivel from the wacky side of the family. It comes across like you’re preaching the Gospel of Obama, perhaps more than a little naively. You realize that Obama is a millionaire, right?

So? What does that have to do with anything?

Andrew Sullivan’s blog yesterday listed the top ten reasons Conservatives should support Obama. It might speak to her.

Unfortunately, she’d listen to my poorly-worded letter probably before she’d read this. I think the above is a bit more than she thinks about on a daily basis.

Hell, maybe I oughtn’t do this. I don’t want to overwhelm her with my viewpoints. I just hate that people go through elections not talking with their families about the gigantic elephant in the room.

The OP makes a big deal about the Noble Messiah sacrificing income to serve the poor.


IMO, it comes across a little too much like glurge.

Would it be possible for you to talk to her about your thoughts instead of writing them in an e-mail?

If I got that, I’d hit the delete fast. . .and it would have nothing to do with the candidate.

Yeah, I’ve already stepped down from the ledge. We’re pretty close (except for this), so maybe I ought to leave well enough alone.

A good rule for life is that if you feel like you need to have someone check the first draft, to make sure that it won’t be off-putting, then the whole idea is flawed. There is no good version of the letter. Just don’t write one at all.

I’d send it, but only if she initiates the dialogue, asking who you were supporting and why.

Oy. Count me as a no-go as well.

When did your sister’s vote become such an intense component of your business?

For that matter, you might as well preface your letter with:

*"Dear Sis,

Since we all know you are not intelligent enough nor adult enough to make up your own mind about this coming presidential election, I submit the following for your consideration:"*

No offense by the way. Oh, and “Obama for Prez!”

It’s fine. You aren’t throwing lots of rhetoric and statistic and anti-other-sideries around.

You are respectfully sharing a political opinion with family, through the very safe medium of email.

I’d stop reading after the part about how you’re not going to get in my face about politics, because that’s exactly what you’re doing. Substantively, glurgy and lame, IMHO.

We just did this in another thread. IMHO, it sounds like you’re trying to convert her because of a slightly condescending assumption that she leads an insular life and just doesn’t know the real facts. Even with the best of intentions, this is a misguided thinking on your part. She’s smart enough to make up her own mind without your input.

She’s your sis and you do what you want; I just think your motivations are a little patronizing.

All good points (except for the noble messiah bit…) and thanks. My intention would never be to patronize her- I was just hoping that maybe she’d be one of the many (I hope) who might be wavering in this election, and that somehow I could appeal to her on the most basic level. But…you’re right. Probably wouldn’t end well, or rather, probably wouldn’t even start.

I think it’s fine. The nice thing about e-mail is you can stop reading whenever you like. I get lots of stuff from relatives–I read about 20% of it. Take a shot.

It’s this that bothers me. The letter itself isn’t bad, but I don’t understand folks who feel compelled to preach their political gospel, and find that compulsion in itself annoying at best. Anything beyond a bumper sticker is more than I want to be subjected to. As to whether your sister feels likewise, I wouldn’t know.