Mr. Vice President…
I didn't enjoy your performance the other night in the debate. It saddened me. I like to think I have a sense of humor. I have always been a funny guy, the class clown, a guy who disarmed many situations with a joke or a smile. But what you did the other night wounded me deeply and betrayed me as an American and as a dad. Let me tell you why…
I was born in Philadelphia and when I was 7 years old we moved a few miles south, to New Castle, Delaware…you’re home state. I was a constituent of yours.
I remember reading in the Evening Journal about the tragic accident that claimed your wife and daughter. I remember being only 8 years old but being very sad. I know I didn't laugh.
You know the area. It’s blue collar and lunch pail. It’s only a couple of miles from the big Boxwood Road GM plant…the one they closed down. One of my best friends lost his job there. For the last three years he’s been living in Ohio, working at a GM plant there, and coming home every few weeks because he needed to get his last few years in so he didn't lose his retirement. He almost never sees the house he lived in, where he grew up, three doors down from me. That’s not funny either.
What’s even less funny is a few years ago Fiskars came to town and made big promises about moving their production there. They were given a choice loan from your boss, Mr. Obama. 529 MILLION dollars to be exact. But they changed their minds and they aren't coming. My friend John won’t be coming home to work. That’s not funny.
I moved to Nashville 15 years ago and had a beautiful wife and a daughter. I scratched out a living and got very good at my job. I was in the mortgage business. I wasn't a Wall Street bundler…just a loan officer. But I did well and found success. I went through a divorce and stayed a single man and focused on my daughter, because she’s my world. You’re a dad…I’m sure you can understand.
In 2004 I bought my dream home. It wasn't fancy or expensive. I only paid $175,000 for it. But I had a few acres and I could plant a garden and our dogs had room to run. We had two beautiful Springer Spaniels named Bonnie and Cooper and a cat named Giacomo and my daughter had a little pony. They were like family to my daughter and me. I mention them because they are gone now. So is the house.
In 2006 the mortgage industry began to contract. In 2007 I lost my home to foreclosure.
That was nothing to laugh at…me losing my home. It wasn't funny Mr. Vice President.
I rented for a year but we all know what happened in 2008. I didn't just lose my job…I lost my career. By August of 2008 I was sleeping in my car, hidden behind a church. I showered in the recreation center and ate infrequently. It wasn't funny Mr. Vice President. My joblessness was nothing for you to smirk at the other night.
I lived this way for THREE and a HALF YEARS! Believe me…I didn't have much to laugh about in all that time. It wasn't funny.
I lived this way stubbornly because I love my daughter and she needed me to remain in her life and to do that I had to remain in her town. I know you understand this…you rode the train every day to come home to your kids instead of moving to D.C. Surely you appreciate the value of the sacrifice I made and the hardship and embarrassment I endured. Given the dad you are, I don’t know why you laughed. Believe me…it wasn't funny.
I had to give our dogs and cat away. I had to tell my daughter that. I broke her heart with that news and here four years later we still look to the day when we can get them back. That wasn't funny either Mr. Vice President…it was heartbreaking. It was sad. I felt like the worst father alive.
My unemployment ran out after about a year and a half. Of course even that little bit didn't help much…not when gas was $4.50 a gallon in the fall of 2008 and it would take half my unemployment check to fill my tank. I ate every other day. I had to keep gas in my tank and my cell phone turned on so that the potential employers from all the applications I put out could reach me. But no one did. I put out 207 resumes in those days and got one callback. That wasn't funny Mr. Vice President…it was humiliating.
I decided to finish my degree and enrolled at my alma mater. Last May I graduated from Liberty University. I proudly walked with my class. I was older than most of them, and it was 28 years later… but it didn't matter. It took 6 semesters for me to graduate…I lived in my car for 5 of them. That was about as hard a way to study as there is. Believe me Mr. Biden…that wasn't funny.
There were nights I awoke to frost inside my car and had to scrape BOTH SIDES of the windshield just to see. There were nights I fell to sleep with the image of my daughters face torturing my mind and wondered if she was worried about me and was she embarrassed…and would I ever be able to get back all I lost? I cried on those nights. I cried a lot. I cried sometimes because it was just so cold out and I had to spend yet another night wrapped in sleeping bags and blankets and living in my car.
The tears of a broken man are bitter indeed Mr. Vice President and they aren't anything to laugh at. Especially not like you laughed the other night.
I scraped together enough money to start a little carpentry business. I am making enough to live on…barely. I found a place to live temporarily but it’s for sale and I’ll have to move soon. I’m not making enough for a deposit, and furniture, and utility deposits. I fear I might be back sleeping in my car again. That’s not funny either Mr. Vice President. And it sure isn't Hope and it sure hasn't changed.
Since you and President Obama came to office more people are out of work…more people are on government assistance, groceries cost more, gas costs more, utilities cost more, meanwhile we all make less. These are facts Mr. Biden and they aren't funny. In fact the only person laughing at all this is YOU!
I have dreams. I dream of owning a home again some day. I dream of providing for my daughter’s education…without YOUR help! I’m a dad…I want to pay for it myself. That’s pride and responsibility. You and this president have stripped it from us like the skin from an orange. It’s sad, Mr. Biden. It’s not funny.
This patch of weeds and scrub is where I lived in my car for the first four months. Then I found another place to park where I was welcomed. Let me tell you what it’s like to sleep in a car. You don’t really sleep because you worry the police might find you and run you off or take you in. Every tiny sound wakes you up. You can’t turn in your sleep like you can in a bed. My back hurt every morning when I woke up. No matter how many layers and sleeping bags you wrap yourself in, and no matter how warm you can make your body…you still breathe the unheated winter air. That’s not funny. That made me cry. I cried in frustration and sorrow and humiliation and sadness. I went almost four years without being able to have my daughter sleep over on weekends like she was supposed to. You don’t know how it feels to worry that your child’s friends will find out her dad is homeless and she’ll be teased and bullied. I cried about that too Mr. Vice President…it wasn't funny.
This is MY story. This is how YOUR economy affected ME. The other night when you laughed and smiled…you laughed at MY situation.
I haven’t laughed in a long time Mr. Biden. Not really. But I've cried. I've cried when I see my daughter growing up and only in the last 6 months have I been able to resume my regular parenthood and have her stay with me. I've cried when I look at pictures of those dogs and that cat and my home and they are just memories now. I cried a lot. While you’re laughing… I've been crying.
I don’t know if you know what it feels like to be heartlessly laughed at when your life has been broken and battered. But it hurts. That’s what you did the other night with your callous display.
I don’t want help from the government. I am a MAN…I’m a DAD! I want to do this MYSELF! I want an opportunity! I want to make MY OWN decision about healthcare and pay for it MYSELF! I want to pay for my daughter’s education with my OWN money. I don’t want to be beholding to Barack Obama…or you. Or anyone else who would laugh at me and others like me when we have suffered so much for so long.
Mr. Vice President…This is MY life. And I don’t think it’s funny.