Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear Mr. President

Dear Barack Obama,

On the first day of your presidency, I send you my plea.

It's your inauguration day. The buzz in the air, the giddiness--the palpable relief, too...it's unprecedented in my lifetime--which is not a super-long lifetime, I admit--but still. I believe you've delivered on your promise of hope. Or the voters delivered it to one another. Because there's some fierce hope out there. Even the naysayers, the staunchest Republicans must feel this hope.

Your inauguration and presidency are not unlike a wedding and marriage. Today, of course, is the amazing day, the celebration. The outpouring of pride and accomplishment. The acknowledgment of just how far we've come and the hard work and sacrifice that got our country to this moment. The Finally, the At Last. Today is not only for you; it's for the history books; it's for all the people who paved the path and who longed for a reflection of themselves in The White House.

But once you're sworn into office and have declared your vows to the American people, the real work begins. If we're high-fiving in two years, it won't be because we have an African-American president. It will be because you are our president.

I believe the truly exciting things you bring to Washington transcend race. You offer a combination of qualities newer and more unique than the color of your skin. You are smart, straightforward, kind, humble and real. You lack the Hollywood gloss of Reagan and the political glibness of Clinton. I trust that you have stronger personal integrity than Kennedy. And though I supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries, I am certain that she couldn't approximate the Obama Effect. Since the election you've smiled and emanated a baggage-free calm. You kill me with that consistently cool demeanor and your confident (but not arrogant!) stride. I have a ton of faith in you.

Boy do you have a huge responsibility. And even though I know you'll always treat us better than we treat you, I feel a little protective of your fans. Suddenly these are my peeps! I have never felt so close to my fellow American citizens as I do know--much more so than after 9/11, I daresay--because the energy is pure and positive. This country has a new game face. And you're the coach to take us to the Super Bowl.

But I won't expect too much. I'm not going to place Iraq and The Economy and National Security and The Environment squarely on your shoulders; you just try your very best for us. Heck, I am only a vice principal and I am awed by the responsibility. I still have a pit in my stomach from my last email from an angry mother. And you've got a lot of angry moms out there. As well as hungry and homeless people, soldiers, high school dropouts, orphans, and bankrupt and health-care-deficient humans to worry about. I don't know how you'll sleep. That you stepped up, smiling that wide grin, and took this country on and maintained your hope thus far is worthy of our respect and admiration.

But you've got to come through on a few things. They may not seem much to ask, but unfortunately they have been too much to ask: We need you honest and straightforward. We need you smiling but true. We need you to feel us and show it. You could cry and that would be okay with me. Probably it would be reassuring. We need you to listen, not just to us but to citizens of the world. We need you to work your tail off but to go home at night and rest and be a dad and a husband. We need you to learn along the way and alter your course when there's a straighter, truer path. Without compromising who you are. Please don't compromise your integrity, your loyalty, your faith, your friends, and your family.

Just keeping being that guy.

I'm not putting you on a pedestal; if America has put you there now, you worked your way up onto that dais. And I don't think you're some kind of god--I believe you don't think you're a god, and that's refreshing. We're not expecting miracles, just reasons to sustain that hope you offer. But if you realize a few of our dreams along the way, that would be awesome.

You're the first president to make me listen with my humblest heart: you can call me to action, call me to serve, call me to better myself, and I will try my best for us, too.

If, Mr. Obama, "the mightiest word" is, indeed, love, I am confident that our United States will be a much more perfect union with you as our president.

Your faithful citizen,



Mama Deb said...

What she said.

Anonymous said...

Good letter Jenny! I am keeping my fingers crossed... it all has to get better! It can't get much worse.

me said...

Amen, sista!