Mr Obama, I didn’t vote for you in either of your elections. I don’t share your world view and I don’t agree with many of your policies. That having been said, I want to thank you for serving our country with grace, character, and dignity.
I am grateful that you didn’t quit sixteen years ago after you lost a local election. When you were broke and your credit card was being declined. When the Democratic Party wouldn’t let you into the convention. Two years later you were speaking at the convention. Six years later, you were the president. You persevered. I admire that.
I am grateful for your service as a community organizer. I, too, was a community organizer. In my youth. In my hometown. Like you, I stuffed literature bags and knocked on doors. I made phone calls to get out the vote. It now occurs to me, that I could become president. Right now, there is a twenty-something year old doing the grunt work of local politics and dreaming of greater things. Because of you, he has reason to dream. That kid might even be black. He might not know his father. He might be poor. But, he has greater reason to hope for great things in his (or her) life.
I am grateful for Michelle, who put healthy eating on the national agenda. She was blamed because schools chose to serve “yucky” vegetables instead of yummy sugars and starches. I noticed large amounts of healthy food in school lunchroom trash cans. But, she made us think about what we are serving our children. She made us think. That, in itself, is an accomplishment.
I am grateful for the way you raised your children. You limited their television time. You made sure that they were well educated. You let them have friends and you gave them the space they needed to grow, make mistakes, and discover who they are. You are the model father and you have earned this father's deep respect.
I am grateful for your faith. I listened to you talk about coming to faith in Jesus Christ. You recalled that Rev. Jesse Jackson taught you that politics was temporary but faith is eternal and that you needed to make sure the eternal is taken care of before you focus on politics. You spoke of being led to the Lord with the sinner’s prayer. Evangelicals, like me, call that “getting saved.” In a political culture that looks down upon religious people, that was a brave confession.
I can’t imagine what it is like to tell the family of a serviceman you sent into battle has died. I don’t know what it is like to endure the feelings of powerlessness after repeated mass shootings in a country where that isn’t supposed to happen. The pressures, the criticisms, the sleepless nights, and the heartaches must have been crushing. I am glad you volunteered for the job and not me. Heck, I wouldn’t want to serve on the school board.
I didn’t have to agree with you to like you. In fact, I admire you. Right now, there are people who are working hard at following your example. I hope they are Republicans.