To the 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama II…
Dear President Obama,
As the close of your 8 years is upon us, I find it so hard to write this post.
I remember watching your speech in Boston in 2004, and I was fine with it. I was so happy that you were running for Senator, that I didn’t think more of your possibilities. When the Illinois Republican Party insulted us by running Alan Keyes, I became more settled in that we would once again have a Black person as Senator. I followed your positions, and how you tried to define yourself, and I couldn’t say that I was upset about it at all.
Then came 2007, and the rumbling that you would run for President. I didn’t go down to Springfield that day, but I did watch it on C-Span. I didn’t give you great odds, but I was hoping for a ‘ good run’ for you.
I don’t know when I first went downtown to volunteer, but it was after I paid the first time to see your wife. Before I believed in you, I believed in Michelle. She was dynamic, and that’s when I took myself to volunteer. I was only going the one time, you see…but then, one time got me to do another, and then your campaign received my weekends. Next thing I knew, I was on my way to Iowa, of all places. I don’t know if I believed that you could win All-White Iowa, but, I enjoyed going there with the varied people that I had met along the way, the only thing we had in common was that we knew this country was in serious trouble, and that it needed someone who wanted to turn it around. I volunteered for my whole family. My mother, born in the Police State known as Jim Crow Mississippi, tried to warn me about getting my expectations too high. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in you, after all, she had voted for you against Bobby Rush in that Congressional race. There was no doubt in her mind of your qualifications…she just didn’t want me to hang my hopes ‘ on those folks doing the right thing when they get into the voting booth.’ I understood her fears; I shared them, but there was no down side in supporting you. If you were going to have a shot, then I was going to work with the others to help you get it.
I went back and found the ‘ Endorsement’ that I did on you on January 2, 2008.
So, for me, Barack Obama is:
My best chance to rid this country of the Imperal Presidency
Would be the First Black President
Add all these together, and it’s the sum total of why I support Barack Obama and wish him well tomorrow in Iowa.
The next night was absolute magic.
In a state with only a 3% Black population, you just didn’t place, you won. And, won big. It was the moment that made the impossible plausible. I remember the look on my mother’s face. This daughter of the Jim Crow South was beaming, yet her eyes expressed the disbelief that many of us felt. Did it really happen?
And, then you came onto the stage with Michelle and your daughters, and we knew that it was very very real. That night sealed the deal. I didn’t know how far you were going to go, but I was all in. Whatever hours I had to volunteer were yours. What I could squeeze out of the paycheck each month would be my financial contribution. I was IN.
The journey took us through caucuses and primaries. Phone banks, and canvassing. Following polls and pundits. The ups and downs. Yet, you were a consistent, level-headed presence throughout it all.
I remember you going back to Iowa, where it all began.
I remember the ‘terrorist fist’ bump.
Who could forget those marvelous days in Denver, culminating with your acceptance speech. They mocked you. Who was this man with the confidence to book a football stadium for his acceptance speech? How did he think that he would fill it? But, fill it, you did. And, give us a vision of America. One of hope and promise.
The Convention was over, and we had to make it to Election Night.
November 4, 2008.
Was it possible? Would it happen? Would this long journey wind up making history?
Yes, it did. It was a warm night in November in Chicago. Almost tailor-made to cap the ending of this story. Watching the returns come in, state after state. Counting the math. Doing the tallying. Then came 11 pm EST. Watching the West Coast and Hawaii put you over the top in the Electoral College is a moment I won’t ever forget. The celebration. The worldwide elation. We were living in actual HISTORY.
You were the 44th President of the United States.
That time, post-election and pre-inauguration, was one of promise and hope. You had captured the imagination, and we wondered how it would all work out. After all, you were become President in a country on the absolute financial skids. We were in serious trouble. We were anxious. We had not seen times like this since the Great Depression.
January 20, 2009, we looked forward to history, but also assurance that this country would rebound, and in true fashion, you were the steady hand, telling us that, it would be hard work, but not impossible for us to come back. That there were better days ahead.
You and the First Lady looked like a dream. From standing on the Capital Steps, having the Queen of Soul singing a patriotic lullaby…to you taking the oath on the Lincoln Bible…to walking in the parade….to the dream of watching the two of you dance at the Inaugural Ball, introduced by Denzel Washington and serenaded by Beyonce. It was wonderful.
The first four years went by…watching in awe….as you just did you job…with competence and excellence. You worked hard, faced resistance that you didn’t know how just how evil, traitorous and sociopathic they went.
You understood the depth of the shape this country was in. While you chose patriotism, the other side chose Economic Treason against this country. Yet, you pushed forward.
I remember the ups and downs. How you and Nancy Pelosi, when all seemed dark, strapped the promise of Universal Healthcare onto your backs and began a process of having America join the rest of the civilized world. Watching the vote in the House…it was another moment of history. Presidents since Theodore Roosevelt had wanted to tackle healthcare, but one after another, they failed. You didn’t.
You changed lives. You brought peace of mind to over 20 million Americans. You shored up Medicare. You helped the least of us with the Medicaid expansion. You brought forth the largest expansion of the American Social Safety Net –without excluding huge swaths of the American population – the first President to do so.
I watched you step onto the International Stage and wow them. How much they appreciated the change in leadership. How they appreciated your calm and deliberate demeanor and leadership. You were strong, but not a war monger. You went after the bad guys, and slowly, but consistently, you were racking up quite a count of those bad guys.
Then came one Sunday Afternoon, and it dropped that the President was going to be addressing the nation. The President addressing the nation on a Sunday? What could possibly be that important? Nobody addresses the country on a Sunday….then slowly the leaks came…and the news was so incredulous that it seemed too surreal to be true. Had you done it? Had you really done it? Had you killed the shadowy demon architect of 9/11? Indeed, you had.
Soon, the election cycle of 2012 was upon us, and it was time for those of us who took up your charge in 2008 to give it another try. After all, it was obvious that your foes were determined to make you a ‘ one term President’ to try and minimize your importance. But, we followed your lead, buckled down, and did the work that needed to be done, and we were able to celebrate once again in Chicago.
You have so many accomplishments, here’s a small list of them:
1. 73 straight months of private sector job growth – the longest in our country’s history. Consequently the unemployment rate, which reached 10% in the early months of the Obama administration, now stands at 4.9%.
2. The auto industry, which was on the verge of collapse when Obama came into office, has been saved and is now thriving, while remaining on target to meet significantly increased fuel efficiency standards.
3. The number of uninsured non-elderly people has dropped to 10.5% – the lowest number on record.
4. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan serve as Justices on the Supreme Court.
5. Osama bin Laden is dead.
6. Iran has halted its development of nuclear weapons.
7. The stimulus package pumped $90 billion into renewable energy projects, transitioned medical records from paper to digital and expanded access to broadband so that 98% of Americans now have access to fast 4G/LTE service.
8. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau brought $11.7 billion in relief for more than 27 million harmed consumers.
9. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has ended and marriage equality is the law of the land.
10. 750,000 DREAMers were able to come out of the shadows.
11. 548 million acres of land and water were protected as national monuments.
12. The high school graduation rate hit an all-time high of 83% in the 2014/15 school year.
13. The federal deficit has been reduced from 9.8% of GDP in 2009 to 3.2% in 2016.
14. Medicare’s solvency has been extended from 2017 to 2028.
15. The Pigford Settlement with African American farmers
16. The resolution of 86 long-standing disputes with Native tribal governments for $2.8 billion.
There are so many more accomplishments…I could go on for awhile. Bottom line, you got stuff done!
Aside from all your measureable accomplishments, there is the pleasure of watching your navigate these past 8 years with elegance, intelligence, grace. Watching you and the First Lady show, by example, all that is possible. Watching you in awe, as you withstood the disrespect on so many levels from many corners. Those of us who know that we didn’t have the character couldn’t help but be humbled watching you and the First Lady give us repeated lessons in how to vanquish enemies. Your strength of character was comforting…reassuring.. even during those times when I disagreed with your policy positions.
As we watched in horror the Election of 2016, you and your legacy become even more pronounced.
I believe, though, that your greatest legacy is yet unseen. That we’ve only touched the edges of it. The haters didn’t win. They didn’t overcome. You did.
A poster on another blog summed it up quite well:
THIS is the legacy that Barack Obama leaves behind. The GOP and their Democratic minions can dismantle every program Obama put in place but they cannot undo an entire generation of black and brown and yellow and red children seeing somebody who looks like them or somebody from their neighborhood having power, being a leader…not the trashman, not the mailman, not the local dope boy but the President.
GOP can NEVER undo that. Just because you chop down the tree doesn’t mean the roots and seeds aren’t there, waiting to sprout.
ICAM. And not only here in America, but abroad. The seeds you have planted are GLOBAL.
As your term comes to an end, I look forward to seeing what you will do Post-Presidency. I think we haven’t seen anything yet.
It has been an honor to live in the Era of Obama.