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.
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.