Thanks, Obama

Dear Mr. President,

I have no idea if you, personally, will ever read this. Probably not. Well, I’m going to send this anyway because writing is how I process things. I’ve been meaning to write a letter to you and your family for the past eight years and I just never got around to it. I waited so long that this letter won’t even reach you while you’re still living in the White House! Oops.

It’s pretty hard to sum up eight years of thoughts in one letter, but I’ll try my best.

I guess I’ll start by saying that I really appreciate what you’ve done for this country. I don’t agree with every single one of your decisions, policies, et cetera, but… that’s life, and I think you did the best you could with what you had. I would have loved to see what you were capable of had you not been constantly obstructed by Republican lawmakers, but I can’t go back in time and fix that. No one can. I’ll never stop wondering about that, though.

As I said before, this letter has been some eight years in the making. Actually, it’s been even longer than that, because I have very distinct memories of avidly following the election back in 2008. I was twelve. I vaguely remember the previous presidential election, but that one was the first where I was old enough to really understand what was going on.

I remember thinking, “If he’s a two-term president, I’ll be twenty when he leaves office. That’s SO OLD!” I’m twenty now. I don’t feel old, silly twelve-year-old me. Mostly I just feel… grateful for the stability of your two-term presidency? Because it overlapped so neatly with my adolescence. I came of age as a young woman in a country whose president proudly identified as a feminist. I came to terms with my identity as a queer woman in a country that took immense steps toward LGBTQ+ equality during your presidency. I don’t envy the young people who now have to grow up under a Trump presidency.

These past eight years have flown by. I don’t often think of time in eight-year increments: Divisions of one or five or ten seem more normal. But I grew up a lot during that time. I went from being vaguely, hazily aware of and curious about what was going on in the world to caring a lot. Now I’m worried that I didn’t care enough. I’m afraid that I took having a president and VP who don’t actively hate people like my, seek to take away my rights, want my dead, et cetera for granted. I’m still processing that.

I don’t want to end this letter on a negative note, and there is still more I want to say, so let me just awkwardly transition to that: As a writer, I love your speeches. I know you don’t write all of them, but I know you’ve written some or parts of some and you’re a great speaker. And then we have that orange thing that can’t string together a coherent sentence. Can you tell I’m bitter?

The last thing I wanted to say is that I’ve LOVED watching your family grow and change during the eight years you were president. I was kind of a history nerd as a kid – OK, I was a total history nerd and I still am – so I was excited that there would be little kids in the White House because there hadn’t been anyone really young since the Kennedy administration. Your elder daughter, Malia, is a few months younger than my brother, so over the years it’s been interesting to think about how they’re probably at similar points in their lives with regard to school and whatnot. I’m really curious to see what directions you and your family go in after your presidency comes to an end.

Thanks, Obama. I mean it.


Elizabeth Chesak

P.S. When I was twelve and again when I was sixteen, I fancied myself quite the budding political cartoonist. I’ve enclosed two pictures of what I dubbed “the Barackodile.” (Rhymes with crocodile.) Hey, it’s difficult to think of words that sound like Barack… and at the time I drew this I believe I had also recently learned about the history of political cartooning and how often animals are used as representations of politicians and their parties? Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

This was meant to symbolize you defeating Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I was one messed-up twelve-year-old.

This was meant to symbolize you defeating Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I was one messed-up twelve-year-old.

Here, you're celebrating your victory over Mitt Romney. I mean, clearly.

Here, you’re celebrating your victory over Mitt Romney. I mean, clearly.


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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12 Responses to Thanks, Obama

  1. mattblack42 says:

    Those cartoons tho… I want you to start drawing them again, but keep the style the exact same way, and end every comic with the Barackodile eating somebody. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Example:

    Trump: *does whatever stupid thing he does that week.*

    Trump: “Wait, what was that noise?” (Barackodile is shown sneaking up behind him.)

    Final slide shows Trump getting swallowed whole in a dark yet adorable fashion.

    Barackodile: *burps out tiny hands*

    • nevillegirl says:

      I mean, theoretically, YES, but I would feel so bad about making cartoon-Obama eat that tiny-fingered, Cheeto-dust-covered buffoon. :/ He doesn’t deserve to taste something so horrible.

  2. God, im not even american but im going to dearly miss the obamas (and joe biden bc honestly what a gem like who do britan have pls)

  3. Evi says:

    This is so sweet!! And those political cartoons are amazing, oh my goodness. I wondered what the Barackodile tag at the top was for, and now I feel very enlightened.

  4. Alexandrina Brant says:

    I remember having an assembly on the election in school. I can’t believe it was so long ago, particularly as I was never interested in politics before then (to be fair, I don’t think I was that interested in politics aged 13 or 14 anyway). Love those Barakodiles, by the way. Tres artsy.

  5. flexireads says:

    A letter to the president? I mean former president. Cool. I hope he gets to read this. ☺

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! I have yet to send it, actually, because I’ve been so busy with school and whatnot, but I’m still planning to… eventually. Who knows, maybe he’ll actually read it now that he (theoretically) has more time! 🙂

  6. Heather says:

    This is a lovely thing to read, especially as just a few weeks after the inauguration, I am already done with this presidency. It makes me glad that I had Obama to think about and even look up to during my most formative years (and sad that some of my younger sisters won’t receive the same privilege). But yes, I agree. Thanks, Obama, quite a bit.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! ❤

      As I said in my post, I feel so sad that I kind of took Obama for granted. Now that he's gone I really appreciate what he did (well, most of it – I don't agree with him about everything but that's just how life works) but in my early teens I was fairly oblivious as to what was going on. I mean, I began to become more politically aware beginning with the 2012 election, but I still had a long way to go.

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