ONTD Political

12-Year-Old Coloradan Boy Writes Letter To Romney Saying His 'Plan For America Isn't What We Need'

3:17 pm - 09/19/2012

Although Gov. Mitt Romney has largely confounded the media while trying to sway voters over to his increasingly difficult to pinpoint health care plan, his comments are not evading one 12-year-old Coloradan.

Last week Jackson Ripley was watching political news coverage with his mom about pre-existing health care when he suddenly got up and decided it was time to write a letter to Romney.

The letter begins (Editor note: all text from letter remains unedited):

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.

Jackson goes on to call out Romney on his health care stance and whether he actually will or won't repeal Obamacare, especially with regard to patients with pre-existing conditions, citing contradicting statements from Romney on "Meet the Press" and the "Tonight Show." Jackson also has strong words for Romney and his stance on gay and women's rights:

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.

Jackson's strong political beliefs appear to have, in part, grown naturally from his family's life experiences beginning with his little sister Kennedy who has had pre-existing conditions since she was just 4 weeks old.

Shortly after Kennedy was born, she developed a hemangioma -- an abnormal, raised tumor of blood vessels -- on her face. According to her mother, Lindsay Ripley, only 10 percent of children are born with a hemangioma and less than one percent of the cases are life-threatening, like Kennedy's.

The tumor grew so large that at just nine months old, Kennedy was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

"She was very ill and in and out of the hospital for the first two years of her life. During which she had several procedures, surgeries, MRI's, CT's and hospitalized many, many times, making her our million dollar baby when she was around a year old," Lindsay Ripley told The Huffington Post.

In 2009, the flailing economy left Lindsay's husband John Ripley briefly without a job, and the family no longer had health insurance. John Ripley was employed again just three months later, but the smaller size of the company translated into a burgeoning reality that the family would have to shop for insurance elsewhere.

And everywhere they shopped they were accepted, except for Kennedy.

"Next to my daughter's name in big black bold letters was the word DENIED. The reason: Dollar amount previously spent, number of hospitalizations within five years and the pre-existing condition, congestive heart failure. I knew they were going to deny Kennedy, but I wasn’t prepared for how angry and sick it would make me feel," Lindsay Ripley said. "Like the insurance companies were saying my daughter was trash, she didn’t matter, wasn’t worth the same the health care and coverage the rest of us enjoy. Our only option was to purchase Kennedy an expensive policy through an insurance company exclusively for people with pre-existing conditions. Although they accepted Kennedy and took our money each month, they refused to cover her pre-existing condition, or anything caused by it, which was almost everything."

Jackson Ripley explained some of his reasoning behind the letter:

My inspiration for the letter was basically my frustration. It was painful (and sometimes a little funny) to see all the people that blindly (sic) supporting Mitt Romney, and I felt like I should bring that to people's attention. I already knew that his plans for America would tear us apart, and would bring more harm than good to families like mine, so I had to make a stand. What he would do was unfair, and I wanted to say something about that.

Lindsay Ripley shared Jackson's letter among some friends and family before sharing it with The Huffington Post and mailing it to Romney. She said that in 2010, the same year the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Kennedy was added back onto the family policy but that she's since been diagnosed with a vascular malformation and will very likely require treatment for the rest of her life.

I think partly due to his sister's illness, at an early age Jackson began to notice injustices in the world that many children never see. Writing has always been a great outlet for Jackson, so three years ago when he was upset about the war in Iraq, we said, "write a letter to the president." And Jackson did. A year later when Jackson saw a homeless man in Cherry Creek and became very upset, we said "write a letter." After buying the man a Cinnabon, Jackson wrote to then-Mayor John Hickenlooper and thanked him for his efforts to end homelessness in Denver. When Jackson came home from school last week, I had the news on and they were discussing the fate of health care and preexisting condition coverage if Governor Romney were to become president. Jackson watched the segment with me. When it was over, Jackson stood up and said, "Excuse me mom, I have to go write a very strongly-worded letter!" So John and I no longer say "write a letter" because he does it on his own.

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

Source has a couple videos, but I haven't watched them since I'm at work

Mods, no Obamacare or Affordable Healthcare Act tag?
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chaya 20th-Sep-2012 12:38 am (UTC)
Your subject is too long.
eveofrevolution 20th-Sep-2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Sorry, fixed!
executivehpfan 20th-Sep-2012 12:46 am (UTC)
Wow. Pretty awesome for a 12-year-old.
lilako 20th-Sep-2012 03:10 am (UTC)
lovedforaday 20th-Sep-2012 12:48 am (UTC)
cue repubs saying the kid was coached.
darth_eldritch 20th-Sep-2012 12:49 am (UTC)
hippie_chick 20th-Sep-2012 12:49 am (UTC)
I love this kid! He speaketh the truth!
jessyryan 20th-Sep-2012 12:50 am (UTC)
He would make a better President than Mittens.
darth_eldritch 20th-Sep-2012 12:52 am (UTC)
*HUGS* Jackson and Kennedy.
beokitty 20th-Sep-2012 12:53 am (UTC)
I am skeptical that this kid wrote this letter on his own.
aviv 20th-Sep-2012 12:58 am (UTC)
When I was the same age than him I wrote some similar things* (and I was also a member of the communist youth LOL)

*as in, political stuff.
bacchae23 20th-Sep-2012 12:58 am (UTC)
I had a subdermal hemangioma at birth, too. :( My folks really struggled getting insurance from it, and had to fight off claims from insurance companies for years afterwards.

Like the poster above, I struggle to believe that he wrote the letter all by himself. If he did, cool, but if his parents are kind of trying to use him as a billboard -- lame. :( I disapprove of such things.

Nonetheless: hope his sister turns out okay.

Edited at 2012-09-20 01:00 am (UTC)
thenakedcat 20th-Sep-2012 03:24 am (UTC)
I was barely any older than this kid in 2000 when I was ranting about feminism/environmentalism/teaching evolution in public schools and the other kids on the bus threatened to TP my family's house if Gore won the election and told me we were the only liberals left in the Army since the draft ended.*

Don't discount kids having strongly-held beliefs at this age and being able to express them.

* After the election I demanded to know why they HADN'T TP'd the house yet.
wonderpup 20th-Sep-2012 01:00 am (UTC)
idk that this is really news. I don't think it adds much of value, tbh.
lonely_hour 20th-Sep-2012 01:25 am (UTC)
in this comm, where i think many people actually have to take time off from because it is too emotionally distressing (which is, i think, a totally appropriate/expected response) -having something uplifting and and hopeful is not too bad at all now and then.
mickeym 20th-Sep-2012 01:16 am (UTC)
That is just incredibly awesome. Go, Jackson!
unbridledglee 20th-Sep-2012 01:21 am (UTC)
Colorado needs more kids like him.
devour_theflesh 20th-Sep-2012 01:23 am (UTC)
No way did he write that. He's not even old enough to stay up to watch the Tonight Show. Nice try, parents!
beokitty 20th-Sep-2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Ikr? The tonight show vs meet the press was the moment for me.
checkerdandy 20th-Sep-2012 01:42 am (UTC)
What's with all the skeptics? Y'all know there's such a thing as DVRs and NBC.com, right? You don't have to stay up late to watch anything anymore.

At 12, I was a sponge, and I absorbed news and politics. I discussed current events with my parents. I was also a voracious reader and writer; I could definitely have written such a letter, but without the your/you're error. Don't you remember what you were like at 12? You were probably forming "adult" thoughts and opinions.

Haters to the left.
squeeful 20th-Sep-2012 01:57 am (UTC)
Man, twelve year old me was debating federalism vs direct democracy. No one now would believe I was me. *disappears into smoke*
suwiel 20th-Sep-2012 02:35 am (UTC)
Does it really matter if he had help writing his letter? It's something nice, for once.
squeeful 20th-Sep-2012 02:39 am (UTC)
Seriously. So what if he might have had help? It doesn't mean that he doesn't, or can't, feel what the letter is saying. He's twelve, not a typewriter.
palebluedot09 20th-Sep-2012 02:41 am (UTC)
This sort of reminds me of what happened with Will Philips, the kid who refused to say the pledge of allegiance.

He got a lot of flack saying that his parents were coaching him and using him for publicity. He even got the latter part from some of the gay community. They said they weren't comfortable when the religious right uses children to push their message so they weren't comfortable with this either.

Well I am friends with the family on facebook and have talked to Will. I can tell you for sure that everything he said was his own views and that they didn't push him to do anything. He is just a really intelligent boy.

Sometimes kids just get it!
thenakedcat 20th-Sep-2012 03:27 am (UTC)
Luv for that kid! As a teenage atheist I went through middle and high school pausing in the middle of the pledge after "one nation", counting two beats in my head, and picking up again at "indivisible".
kishmet 20th-Sep-2012 02:51 am (UTC)
Okay you know what, everyone questioning the capacity of this kid to write this letter: check your privilege. This kid can't be as innocent and ignorant as you seem to think he should be, because his parents have been struggling with money, his sister's been struggling with health issues, and his brain is developed enough that he's gonna be aware of both these facts. Even four years ago some of mom and dad's woes probably came through, because kids aren't stupid.

And come on, kids are writing book reports and sourced essays by the time they're twelve these days. If he had some adult wording or editing help, who the hell cares? That's kind of ableist too, to discredit his opinions for that reason, since lots of kids with LDs (and without) need a hand with their schoolwork. Just sayin'

paksenarrion2 20th-Sep-2012 03:01 am (UTC)
Thank you for saying this.

His family has been struggling for years. This kid is aware of that. He has been aware of other things that affect his world and the world around him more so than a lot of other kids. And if he did have a little editing help, so what. His desire to make an impact is what really matters.
wrestlingdog 20th-Sep-2012 02:58 am (UTC)



This kid is awesome.
empirebird 20th-Sep-2012 03:10 am (UTC)
omg mott
othellia 20th-Sep-2012 04:07 am (UTC)
I doubt that the kid wrote the entire letter by himself, but you know what? I didn't really expect him to. If I was his age, writing a letter to a presidential nominee, you can bet that I'd be pulling in my parents, asking them to spell check and offer stylistic advice. And if he did write the whole thing by himself, good for him.

Also did no one else stay up really late as 12 year old kids to catch that one show or two that came on really late at night? Sure for my sister and me it was MXC and Adult Swim rather than talk shows, but the point still stands.
astridmyrna 20th-Sep-2012 04:20 am (UTC)
Lol, I watched Biography with my folks. XD
astridmyrna 20th-Sep-2012 04:19 am (UTC)
This kid is awesome for going through these rough experiences like a champ, and then writing about it. Did his parents help? Most likely, especially since he was sending it to Romney. Adults give kids the words they need to help describe how they feel and to help them grow linguistically. He's also been through a lot more than most kids age probably have, and I'd expect he'd mature a bit faster than other twelve year olds, who are already beginning to form independent ideas.
rex_dart 20th-Sep-2012 05:19 am (UTC)
I'm kind of amazed at what people here think of twelve-year olds. When I was twelve my parents had to bribe me into going to confirmation classes by buying the family a DVD player because I didn't believe in God and was tired of being bullshitted. Twelve-year olds aren't little automatons; they're aware of the world and they have opinions. And I definitely could have written something like this; I was a voracious reader as a kid, which isn't exactly some sort of uncommon trait, and shockingly enough kids who read good can do other stuff (like writing) good too.
queenbathory 20th-Sep-2012 11:31 am (UTC)
Seriously...special snowflakes everywhere

zinnia_rose 20th-Sep-2012 06:45 am (UTC)
I honest to god can barely even remember what I was like at 12, which is kind of embarrassing.

But anyway, good for Jackson. Yeah, he probably did have some help, but that doesn't mean he's a mindless parrot. I mean, hell, if I were writing a letter to a presidential candidate I'd ask people for help, and I'm a lot older than 12. I have no trouble believing that a 12-year-old can understand the financial difficulties his little sister's illness has caused and can comprehend how Obama's healthcare plan would really improve his family's life.

"Excuse me mom, I have to go write a very strongly-worded letter!"
Ahaha, this is freaking brilliant. :D

(And on a side note, how adorable is that little girl?!)
baked_goldfish 20th-Sep-2012 06:52 am (UTC)
I have no trouble believing that a 12-year-old can understand the financial difficulties his little sister's illness has caused and can comprehend how Obama's healthcare plan would really improve his family's life.

This is the thing that's so baffling about the "he didn't write it" commentary. You don't have to be a genius as a kid to still notice this kind of heavy shit. Your sister is sick and no doctor wants to care for her? You notice. You hear about something the president did that makes it so doctors can take care of her? You notice that too. You hear this other guy running for president wants to undo that? You get mad, because it's your sister and your parents who will suffer. All politics is local, even for a 12 year old.
rainbow_vagina 20th-Sep-2012 07:53 am (UTC)
Bless his heart.
I had to laugh when he said that they built America for freedom though but at least he's a kid and doesn't annoy me as much as when adults say it.
the_physicist 20th-Sep-2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
that's a great letter he wrote and he should be proud of himself. i've taught 12 year olds. they can definitely write coherently at this age. maybe not all will, but there's absolutely no reason he shouldn't have written this himself. kids often have a far greater understanding of the world around them than adults give them credit for. they do often lack an understanding of the greater picture, but I think it's clear from this kid's life that the experiences in his family provided him with that.
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