DENVER — Displaying the sort of grammar that may indicate he wasn’t expecting his letter to go viral — or, perhaps, that he is indeed a 12-year-old — a middle school student recently penned a letter to Mitt Romney, telling the GOP presidential nominee, “[Your] plan for America isn’t what we need, and would hurt us more than it would help.”
“I’d like to say congratulations on winning the republican nomination,” Denver resident Jackson Ripley continued. “But, I wish you stayed in Massachusetts.”
So why are these four paragraphs gaining national attention? Aside from a few flubs, they show a level of political comprehension that would likely elude the vast majority of 12-year-olds — and maybe even a few of Ripley’s elders.
The Huffington Post reported that Ripley was watching TV news coverage on the politics behind the act of providing health care insurance to individuals with preexisting conditions. That’s when he got the motivation to pen the letter.
It seems that particular health care debate hits very close to home for the youngster.
Ripley’s 7-year-old sister Kennedy was diagnosed with hemangioma at four-weeks-old. The condition caused an abnormal, raised tumor of blood vessels on Kennedy’s face. As a result, she later developed congestive heart failure and is now dealing with vascular malformation.
In other words, it’s likely that Kennedy will require medical attention for the rest of her life.
Considering that personal experience, one may have expected Ripley’s letter to be teeming with passion and fury at Romney’s stated goal to repeal Obamacare, legislation that he said has provided his sister with previously-denied access to health care.
While it did contain some personal anecdotes, Ripley’s letter also contained calculated citations of public comments made by Romney on “Meet the Press” and “The Tonight Show.” Those comments from Romney spoke to the issue of health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions, and they confused at least one conservative news outlet in addition to Ripley.
“When you were interviewed on ‘Meet the Press’, you stated that you would NOT repeal this part of Obama Care,” Ripley wrote. “But then your campaign backpedaled and on the ‘Tonight show with Jay Leno’, you said that you WOULD repeal this.”
As if that weren’t proof enough of Ripley’s attempt to make his letter about more than raw emotion, he also provided an opinion on gay marriage that he believes is guided by an interpretation of the founding fathers’ intent when drafting the constitution.
“People should be able to marry whom they want,” Ripley wrote. “We built this country so people could have freedom, and not have religious beliefs control them to that length. This country was in no way built on any religion, so we should not create laws that repress the American people in a religious way.”
Ripley’s mother, Lindsay, worked on Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett’s campaign for the office of Colorado District Attorney. She said writing has always been a “great outlet” for her son, and said his letters to political figures began with one to President Barack Obama regarding the then-9-year-old’s disappointment about the war in Iraq.
Lindsay also described a letter that resulted from her son’s encounter with a homeless man in Cherry Creek.
“After buying the man a Cinnabon, Jackson wrote to then-Mayor John Hickenlooper and thanked him for his efforts to end homelessness in Denver,” Lindsay said.
Read the complete, unedited letter below:
Dear Governor Romney,
I’d like to say congratulations on winning the republican nomination. But, I wish you stayed in Massachusetts. You’re plan for America isn’t what we need, and would hurt us more than it would help.
First, repealing Obama care and other health plans he’s put in place have helped families across America, including mine. I live in a middle class family, and two years ago my little sister; Kennedy was denied insurance because of her pre-existing condition. This was a huge emotional stress and financial burden on my entire family. Under Obama Care, insurance companies can no longer deny Kennedy and kids like her, the coverage they need and deserve. Because of Obama care my little sister was able to have the several surgeries she needed that helped save her life. Once the President was elected he put Obama Care into action, just like he promised and made it so that you could get insurance with pre-existing conditions. This has made a direct impact on my family. My family is with out a doubt better off now, than we were four years ago!
It is to my understanding that you stated that you were going to repeal Obama Care, including the part I have mentioned, which will take away the insurance we have and need for my sister Kennedy. Why do you think she doesn’t deserve health care? Also, when you were interviewed on “Meet the Press”, you stated that you would NOT repeal this part of Obama Care, but then your campaign backpedalled and on the “Tonight show with Jay Leno”, you said that you WOULD repeal this.
Also, you’re domestic plans (birth control, gay rights etc.) are horrible! Women should get to manage their own health, and if you wonder why you’re not appealing to many women voters, rethink your birth control and women’s’ rights plans. And people should be able to marry whom they want. We built this country so people could have freedom, and not have religious beliefs control them to that length. This country was in no way built on any religion, so we should not create laws that repress the American people in a religious way and hurt our most vulnerable.
Jackson Ripley, age 12