There should be no bitterness or hate where the sole thought is the welfare of the United States of America. No man can occupy the office of the President without realizing that he is the President of all the people.
-Franklin D Roosevelt
It is personally disagreeable to me to feel compelled to pen this letter to a sitting President of the United States. While we all have the right in this great country to speak freely and to express our beliefs, this particular matter should be as far above my current station as it should be below yours. Unfortunately, it has proven to be neither and so here we are.
When I took the oath of office there was no President 101 class for incoming leaders and I doubt there is one now. But if I were to write the curriculum for one the very first lesson would be that an American President should leave his “bag of party affiliation” at the door to the Oval Office and pick it up again once his (or her) term of service is finished. Once the Oath of Office is taken, it is time to shed the grounded cocoon of partisanship and accept the butterfly wings of soaring freedom. While I appreciate that the leaders of this hemisphere recognize the importance of protecting the Monarch butterfly, we should not aspire to have one, a monarch that is, as President of the United States.
In fact, the President has a fiduciary responsibility to serve and work for all Americans, without regard to race, sex, religion or even party affiliation. We don’t refer to George W. Bush as the 18th Republican President of the United States, we honor him as the 43rd President. In this same manner, will honor you, sir, as the 44th President.
It is incumbent (no pun intended) upon us as elected leaders to make sure we represent the people who voted us into office and, even more so, the ones who didn’t vote for us. There is a dignity and a grace to the office of the Presidency which should never allow itself to be dragged down to political campaigns and partisanship. The President doesn’t have the luxury to be able to express personal dislike for candidates that may or may not succeed him in office. This is especially true on the international stage where relationships between countries may be expressed in terms like war, alliance, embargo and treaty.
You, as our leader, should support and encourage the process of American Democracy and encourage all Americans to vote their conscience, not your conscience. You certainly shouldn’t tell Americans that their vote, or non-vote, will be personally insulting to you nor should you disparage a Presidential nominee on the international stage in front of other world leaders. This demeans the office and it is our duty to uphold the integrity of it.
So let me remind you that the will of the people will determine the next President of the United States. It will not be determined by your, or my, personal opinion and you have a responsibility to not tie his (or her) hands internationally prior to them taking office and to assist them in all ways possible in the same way that I did for President Truman and that President Bush did for you.
One last point, if I may. This country is one great big melting pot of people who believe very different things and like/dislike very different things. However, we are still a family and, like a family, siblings will fight and argue bitterly over things like the one house telephone in my day or perhaps the Xbox One in yours. But in the end, when we leave the house, we are a united family and nobody is going to push around my little sister. The country needs a Uniter-in-Chief and not a Divider-in-Chief.
So I ask you to give both nominees an example they can aspire to of a President who is above the campaign and who is the President of the Democrats, Republicans and Independents. The partisan campaign trail is no place for the sitting President of the United States. I ask you to live up to these great words once spoken by a great man:
I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.
There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats.
But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
-Barrack H. Obama
Be the man. Be the President.