Letter to the President
I wrote to President Barack Obama on 11/7/16, the day before the election of Donald Trump. With so much frustration around the election it was strangely soothing to look back over the past eight years of Obama’s tenure. As I say below, I did not vote for him – but have a great deal of respect for how he handled the role.
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Travis Duncan and I am a graduate student at Stanford. I write this to you on Monday November 7th, the eve of the election of your successor. The reason for my letter is two-fold: first, to say thank you and second, to say good luck.
I have had the great fortunate to take a politics class this quarter, which has led me to be more engaged in our political process than I otherwise might be. Somewhat obviously, I have been disappointed. I write to thank you because of how you and your staff have handled yourself and your office these last eight years: with absolute respect and the dignity the position deserves. I will admit, I did not vote for you, but never once have I thought you did not have America’s best interests at heart. Thank you for being an absolute class act and for being the type of leader young people (and older people) can aspire to.
While I can moan and groan about the lack of political progress, and wish that you had been more willing to work with those on the right – I simply can’t imagine what it must be like to try and get anything accomplished with some of those knuckleheads. There is always room for improvement, but that couldn’t have been an easy (or pleasant) situation.
Politics aside, you took the highest office in the land and retire (leave? move on?) with grace – not an easy feat.
Thank you for your service.
As your successor is due to be elected tomorrow, I wanted also to wish you good luck in whatever is next for you and your family. I don’t have the faintest idea what life after the Presidency is like, and it’s something we rarely hear about. A long vacation and more time with your children seems a good way to start. You’ve given us a lot; don’t be afraid to take some time and energy for yourself.
You do not leave in crisis, but your successor is likely to have her (let’s hope it’s her) hands full. Please take the time to give the transition the attention it deserves – she will have quite enough on her plate. Between the transition planning and the hopeful confirmation of Garland – in addition to the overwhelming (I assume) day-to-day – I urge you to take some time for reflection. Not just for material for a future book (ha-ha), but because this is an inflection point. Certainly you’re a wise enough person to know it is only the zenith if you treat it as such. In whatever you choose to pursue next, I wish you and your family good luck!
Your fellow American,
P.S. I don’t know if the W.H. sends Christmas cards, but if they (you?) do, one to my girlfriend, Rachel Gross, would mean a lot to her.
TD // 12/9/16