Day 28: An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I often wonder if it is truly possible to be a change agent when you are the President of the United States. During your campaign in 2008, you certainly quieted those questions for me with your vision for a different America — a more thoughtful, just, equal nation. At least for a brief moment, I expected your administration to activate fundamental economic, social, and political change, that these changes would trickle from the top down in service of making this country “a more perfect union.”

Perhaps you reached the Oval Office and saw how the operation is really run — the inside view of the military or the nation’s finances — and realized that all the change you promised and proposed could in no way become reality. Perhaps you weren’t sincere when you talked about “change we could believe in” on the campaign trail. Perhaps it’s a combination of both reality check and insincerity colliding. I don’t know.

Election promises are sometimes broken or unfulfilled. I get that. I know that it is one thing to campaign and quite another to govern. What troubles me, though, is not that I’ve been disappointed by some of your decisions. I’m an adult and can deal with some disappointment from a politician. What troubles me most is that you did not only capture votes in 2008; you captured imaginations. And you are not fully acting in ways that would honor those imaginations, and the hope that was built within them.

More specifically, you captured the attention and imagination of this nation’s children. They declared your name with admiration, voted for you in school mock elections, wrote letters to you, read your children’s book where you declare that children are the future. If you are so fortunate to capture the imagination of a child, you have an immense responsibility to honor that gift, to work intensely to create change that will make you deserving of their gift to you. At the very least you, as the leader of this nation, should do everything in your power to create a better future for them. You have an entire nation of children depending on you not only to listen well, but also to make decisions and act on those decisions.

What other president could claim such a following from this country’s youngest citizens? How could a president resist such a powerful incentive to fight for lasting change?

Nicole Brittingham Furlonge

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