Reporter's Note: President Obama won re-election last night. What that means to this letter writing campaign…well, who knows?
Dear Mr. President,
Like you, I had a late night and a busy day, so sorry if I’m running a bit late with today’s letter. I suppose you’ve had enough on your plate anyway so it’s not like you missed it, but I still hate to be tardy.
First things first: Congratulations on your big win! I know it was a long campaign, but your organization (the “ground game” as politicos like to call it) clearly herded folks to the polls more effectively than the Republicans, and you should be proud. It must feel great to realize, after all that effort, that you have won. No need to book a tee time or find some nice paperbacks to pass the autumn; you still have a job!
In the midst of your excitement, however, I need to mention one thing: Don’t forget everyone who voted against you. Now, I realize that this may be the furthest thing from your mind, and some of your supporters would like to keep it that way. But I think sometimes the greatest measure of any political leader is not how he treats his fans, but how he handles those who voted against him. Some 50-million Americans did not want you to be President again, and they are likely disappointed, wounded, angry, and skeptical about what the next four years will bring.
You can either fulfill all their worst fears and deepen the divide in the nation, or you can find a way to make them feel respected, cared about, and listened to…and maybe you’ll help close the great political chasm.
I hope you opt for the latter. The politics of “51 percent” has too long been used by both parties as an excuse for ignoring everyone except their own true believers, and it has embittered people on both sides.
I know many Democrats felt lost and furious when George Bush was re-elected, and my advice to him would have been the same: Find a way to include them and let them know that you truly are their president, too. Of course the winning side will get more of its way in legislative matters over the next four years, that’s what winning is all about. But that doesn’t mean the losing side needs to feel abandoned.
True champions are humble in victory and helpful to the vanquished. If more of our leaders, Democratic and Republican thought that way, I suspect we’d have less rancor and more solutions in D.C. At least, it is worth a shot.
Congratulations again and give my best to your family.
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