Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, have teamed with renowned doctor and author Deepak Chopra to write an open letter to the candidates involved in the 2008 Presidential Election. The letter poses six specific questions about issues such as diversity, poverty, global warming and the war in Iraq. The letter pointedly asks each candidate what they intend to do to address these pressing issues and offers them the opportunity to have their responses disseminated, unedited, to millions of concerned voters.
The full text of the letter reads as follows:
United States of America
Russell Simmons, Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis
January 17, 2008
Dear Presidential Candidate:
Millions of people across America and throughout the world are eager to hear and learn how you propose to provide effective leadership as the next President of the United States on the issues of overcoming poverty, addressing global warming and protecting the environment, promoting sustainable economic development, and striving to establish world peace. We have six specific questions for you to answer.
We know that you are aware we are living in a remarkable moment in human history when the vast masses of people on every continent are crying out for a higher standard and better quality of life.
The rising consciousness of a growing critical mass of people at the grassroots level is being manifested in the unifying spirit of millions who are praying, demanding, seeking, struggling and working for a real, positive and redemptive change in their own lives and communities. There are millions who are making it abundantly clear that when given the opportunity to participate in the voting process, they will express their political and spiritual will as independent, young, new and conscious voters.
(1.) How do you view the importance of being open to welcome and to encourage a more inclusive political dialogue with those who may be at the margins of the political establishment or with those who may be at the distant edges of the perceived rigidity of the mainstream political parties?
We are in solidarity with all people without distinction as to gender, race, ethnicity, class, religion, lifestyle or orientation. We believe in the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity. Diversity is a blessing from the Creator.
(2.) How do you view the importance of diversity in our representative, constitutional democracy?
The United Nations has reported that if our government and other governments do not change their respective policies on how to protect, nurture and respect the sacred balance and equilibrium of the environment, the catastrophic consequences of global warming will become a certain destructive inevitability for future generations.
(3.) How will you use the office of President of the United States to work with the United Nations and other bodies to respond to the issue of global warming and to protect, nurture and respect the environment?
The latest statistical 2007 report from the U.S. Census Bureau on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States documents the persistence of poverty, income disparities and inadequate health insurance coverage for millions of people. They are suffering from the consequences of the lack of effective governmental leadership on the issue of poverty.
(4.) Specifically, what is your plan of action to eliminate poverty in America?
The 2008 U.S. Presidential Election is one of the most important elections in our lifetime. Calls for a real change in leadership, direction, public policy and governmental action are growing daily. The election results from the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary reveal the core of concern not only for the need for change domestically, but there is also a growing transformation in the conscience of Americans concerning the issues of war and peace. The war in Iraq should be brought to an end as soon as possible.
(5.) What do you intend to do to end the war in Iraq?
Most recently, some have unadvisedly attempted to interject the race card into the Presidential campaign. There are many in the political sphere from time to time that make a reference to the dream and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the important characteristics today about the growing awareness and participation of the “hip-hop generation” of young voters is their transcendent state of mind on the issue of race. In fact, Dr. King believed in “the beloved community” where all human beings are treated equally with mutual respect, justice and love.
(6.) As President of the United States, how will you exemplify leadership domestically and internationally toward the fulfillment of “the beloved community”?
We would like to receive your timely responses to our open letter and the six questions highlighted. Your answers will be shared unedited with millions of people via the media: print, television, radio and the Internet throughout the world. We will also directly transmit your answers to our mail and e-mail lists, websites, constituencies and demographic of people and communities that desire to make informed decisions and to make a positive difference in the outcome of the election of the next President of the United States.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dr. Benjamin Chavis