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Letters to Obama: farewell to the hope and change president

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Barack Obama promised hope and change on the campaign trail. In the White House he discovered the limits of that message. We asked readers to write farewell letters to the outgoing president. Here is a selection:


As a biracial person who has struggled to find community … your story and actions have deeply affected my personal motivations for success and change.

Dear Mr President,

Thank you for being a dedicated, poised, and inspiring leader to this country for the past eight years.

As a biracial person who has struggled to find community while simultaneously feeling a strong desire to empower and elicit the best in others, your story and actions have deeply affected my personal motivations for success and change.

I hope, after some much deserved time off, you will continue to be a figure for strength, democracy, and of course, hope, for our country in the future.

Sydney Alcaraz, 25, United States


I will always think of you as a person who was true to himself and his ideas, which is something not many can say.

President Obama,
You have been a real inspiration for millions of people around the world. Your honesty and hard work in order to improve the lives of Americans will be recognized even by those who opposed you. Your foreign policy was balanced and sincere. Thank you very much for your honesty as a man.

I will always think of you as a person who was true to himself and his ideas, which is something not many can say. Un abrazo.

Salvador Jimenez, 45, Spain


Your administration had its ups and downs, but I was never ashamed to call you my president.

Mr President,
To quote the band Chicago: “If you leave me now, you’ll take away the biggest part of me.” You weren’t the first president of my lifetime, but it was during your presidency when I truly started to take note of the world around me.

Your administration had its ups and downs, but one thing was consistent: I was never ashamed or embarrassed to call you my president.

However, there was much more that could have and should have been done during your presidency. You were always walking a tightrope, I know, but when our planet faces an issue as extreme as climate change, denialists shouldn’t be appeased.

Your presidency saw some turbulent years for the country: The ever-present beast that is institutional racism reared its ugly head through police killings of young black men, and the apparent epidemic of mass shootings exposed this country’s gun problem and the flaws in how we deal with mental health. I believe you could have taken a stronger stance on these issues.

Eight years ago, at a time when we were going through one of the worst recessions in history and in the midst of two never-ending wars, you had the audacity to say that we should never lose hope and keep fighting for change. Perhaps you didn’t bring the change we needed, but you taught us that through even the darkest times, we need to keep moving forward.

I intend to hold that message to heart during these coming years. I hope others will do the same.

Anthony Engebretson, 24, United States


I’m an old woman and have witnessed many presidents. You are definitely my favorite and the most courageous.

Dear President Obama,
I’m an old woman and have witnessed many presidents. You are definitely my favorite and the most courageous. I especially appreciate your intelligence and the measured way you make decisions.

Rest and spend time with your family, but keep speaking out. I’ll back you up.

We need you – and the world needs you.

Elizabeth Keddy, 77, United States


I didn’t agree with everything you said or did, but at least you said and did them with a good measure of class and intelligence.

I’ll keep it short and sweet, Mr President.

Thank you for your service. I didn’t agree with everything you said or did, but at least you said and did them with a good measure of class and intelligence, and all that in the face of unrelenting opposition.

I wish you and your family the best in all future endeavors.

Geoff Burkina, 64, United States


You are among the many giants who have helped show my sons that there are values worth fighting for.

Thank you for your eight years of service and for your wonderful example of principle, discipline, conviction and strength.

I am deeply grateful for you, for showing my boys, aged 9 and 12, the meaning of honour and decorum in the face of stupidity, bigotry and hate. You are among the many giants who have helped show my sons that there are values worth fighting for.

You will be the first American president they will remember, and for this, I am most grateful.

Karin Bjornson, 49, Canada


For eight years, we have been blessed with a grownup in the Oval Office.

Mr President,

For eight years, we have been blessed with a grown-up in the Oval Office. Words cannot express how much you will be missed as our leader. I have not felt such deep dismay and sadness since President Carter left office. I know you will continue to be a true statesman, just as he has.

With profound respect and gratitude, peace to you and your family.

Heidi Knutson, 59, United States


You were unable to change the world as much as you wanted, but you changed it a little bit.

Enjoy the peace that hopefully you will experience now.

I think you were hamstrung from the start; you were unable to change the world as much as you wanted, but you changed it a little bit.

God bless.

Richard Carroll, 52, Ireland


You (and your administration) should stand tall with the legacy you have left the American people.

As a Canadian now living in the UK for over 20 years, and as a student of politics, I applaud your courage and steadfastness over the last eight years in office. You (and your administration) should stand tall and proud with what you have accomplished and the legacy you have left the American people – and others globally.

I am certain that the words of Teddy Roosevelt will resonate with you (as they do for me): “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

I envy you! Well done!

Nicolas Boross-Toby, 46, United Kingdom


I intend to pick up your torch … and keep your legacy alive.

President Obama,

I want to thank you for doing so much to protect our natural world. As a voter, my first priority is, and has always been, the protection of wild places, and you have steadily done more on this front than any president I can remember.

I will miss your leadership on this and many other issues, but I intend to pick up your torch here in Oklahoma, where most public lands are leased to the highest bidder. I intend to work with them, and others, to keep your legacy alive.

Deepest gratitude.

Jen Vogh, 51, United States