Dear Mr. President,
I owe you an apology, and I sincerely hope that after reading this letter (if it somehow makes its way to you), you will find it in your heart to forgive me.
During the 2008 election, you inspired me to a level of unprecedented political engagement in American politics. I canvassed door-to-door and on college campuses – as well as in online political and not-so-political chat rooms (oh, the adventures) – registering voters with one goal in mind: to secure your place in the White House.
I believed in you, despite my natural-born cynicism and grounded understanding of our political system’s current dysfunction. I believed in you not because of your campaign rhetoric, but because of the deep sincerity I intuited in that rhetoric.
That sincerity is rare.
And then something changed after you assumed the presidency. Over time, I became somewhat disillusioned, reverting to my former, cynical self. Over the last three years, I have done little to praise you.
The truth is, I have mainly critiqued you.
I critiqued your administration’s reticence to pursue legal action against the Bush administration. I critiqued your signing an Affordable Care Act that didn’t contain a public option. I critiqued your administration’s bailing out of the financial sector, and then critiqued your administration’s reticence to investigate and prosecute those in the financial sector who brought our country to its knees.
I’ve critiqued your penchant for compromise with those Republicans in our country who do nothing but carry water for the richest among us, and your willingness to work with those in the GOP who would – if given the chance – deny basic civil and human rights to the least among us.
I’ve critiqued your Israel policy and your actions with regard to the Palestinians. I critiqued your signing of NDAA, and your administration’s killing of Americans abroad in the “war on terror.”
I have done so much critiquing, Mr. President.
And while I still stand by some of my critiques, after looking at the socially-prehistoric and dishonest candidates being offered by the GOP, and after looking more closely and honestly at your own presidency, I have come to realize the following:
Not only must I praise you, but I must praise you
for being the greatest President of my lifetime.
More than praise you, what I really must say is thank you.
+ Thank you for preventing drug companies from blocking access to generic drugs so that a loved one can have access to life-preserving medication.
+ Thank you for requiring that health plans cover those with preexisting conditions so my brother can receive cancer treatment if he once again needs it.
+ Thank you for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
+ Thank you for pushing the Matthew Shepard Act, which expanded sexual orientation into hate crime legislation.
+Thank you for beginning the removal of our our troops from Iraq.
+ Thank you for expanding Pell Grants for low-income students and for adding protections for student borrowers.
+ Thank you for pushing for funding of The Violence Against Women Act.
+ Thank you for expanding both Early Head Start and Head Start.
+ Thank you for working to expand coverage via the State Children’s Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP).
+ Thank you for creative a ‘Green Vet Initiative’ that seeks to promote environmental jobs for our veterans.
+ Thank you for extending unemployment insurance benefits and child tax credits.
Thank you, President Obama, for all those things listed and those things I’ve failed to list that you have done.
I’m sorry I have not given you the proper credit you deserve, and I pledge, from now on, to not just focus on my critiques of you in my writing, but also on those things for which you deserve praise.
Please forgive me.
David Harris-Gershon (@David_EHG)
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