Letters to Obama

Dear Barack,

In the week leading up to the presidential inauguration on January 20, Capital Public Radio 90.9 FM—SN&R’s partner in this project—will be airing five audio “Letters to Obama.”

The goal of Letters to Obama—a special joint project SN&R undertook in partnership with Capital Public Radio—was to share the Sacramento community’s counsel, well wishes and caveats with the new occupant of the White House. The project succeeded—we were flooded with letters. What follows is just a sampling; follow the links to the complete set of messages that poured in from people across the region. It goes without saying: All will be forwarded, electronically and by mail, to the new president in Washington, D.C.

Also, don’t miss the chance to consider again the text (printed here along the margins) of the speech President-elect Barack Obama gave in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park the night the country learned the name of the man who would be president.

I’d lost hope in America

Has it really only been eight years? It seems like 20. It’s been a long, terrible ride this last decade, and I’m ready to try something new. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have been crashing around the country dispensing fear, hate and divisiveness. And we bought it. We bought it.

But not any longer. I lost hope in America, I have to admit. I lost hope in her people. Really, since we’re being honest here, I lost hope in the human race in general. I gave up. But all that has changed, and I have you to thank for it. Not that you are the answer to all of our problems, but you offer something we haven’t had in a very long time: inspiration. Now, I’m not saying that I suddenly find myself in a lovefest for human beings and I think we’ve cleared any hurdles. Quite the contrary; I think we are in real danger of eradicating ourselves from existence. But I see now that the majority of people on this planet want to live happy lives, want to work toward that symbol of perfection about which we have heard so much. We just need guidance.

There is a quote from the Hunter S. Thompson book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where it says the fatal flaw of the 1960s American culture was that there was a “desperate assumption that someone, or at least some force, was tending the light at the end of the tunnel.” On November 4, 2008, I realized there finally is someone tending the light. Thank you.

Diana Watson
corporate-project coordinator

Born-again idealist

John-John saluted, and I knew that the world as I had come to know it was gone. It was Monday, November 25, 1963. I was 14, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. had just turned 3. His salute at his father’s coffin was like saying goodbye to all I believed in.

Soon Martin died, Bobby died, kids died at Kent State and Jackson State, and the hopes and dreams I had built up as an idealistic teenager died with them. Part of what happened between that grim day in 1963 and the election of 2004 was just my coming to terms with reality and moving past a naive and unrealistic vision I had for America.

But deep within me I clung to the belief that hope was still possible, and that America could be that country I idealized so long ago. Then I heard a speech at the 2004 Democratic convention that caused something to resonate within me. When a young man from Illinois said, “I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us,” I was ready to sign up.

On the day after the 2004 election, I walked into a meeting of my fellow school-district superintendents wearing a Post-it note that said simply “Obama ’08.” Four years later, my grandson is the same age as I was when John F. Kennedy took office, and once again I have dreams.

President-elect Obama, I ask you to inspire an even deeper hope than I experienced in a country that will truly act on the glorious beliefs we have long espoused but never fully acted on. I’m ready to be a born-again idealist.

Bob Schultz, 59
retired K-12 school administrator and teacher

My brother lost his leg

I spent the better part of 2007 living in San Antonio, Texas. Along with my mother, I helped in nursing my brother back to health after he was hit by and IED in northern Iraq and lost his right leg. Along with my brother, I saw many young men and women rehabbing from severe injuries as a result of the war. Many of the soldiers were either amputees and/or had burn injuries they sustained while serving our country.

I ask that in your first term, please get our soldiers out of the Middle East (this includes Iraq and Afghanistan).

I wouldn’t wish on any American family the experience that my mother and I faced last year. Having my mother call me and tell me that my brother had been hit and not knowing if he was going to live, I do not wish this on any more families. So please see that our American soldiers are returned safely to their families soon.

Katie Tong, 27
international account manager
Fair Oaks

Hopes and fears

Many of us—maybe most of us—wish you tremendous success during your tenure as president. Of course, we have hopes and fears for you. They are things I’m sure you’ve already considered, but perhaps (more for ourselves) they need to be spoken out loud. In a way, we’re holding our breath. Among our hopes is that you and your branch of the government, working in harmony with the other branches of government, will guide the country out of its present sorry state. We fear that people who do not support your vision for the country and its possible future will try to throw as many roadblocks in your path as possible.

We also fear that people on the extreme right and those on the extreme left will try to make things difficult for you. These fears of ours, I am sure you are already aware of. We trust, however, that because of your steadiness, calmness and reasonableness, your vision will prevail over these possible troubles.

Clarence Major
UC Davis professor and poet

Tears ran down my face

On January 27, 2009, seven days following your inauguration, I will turn 87 years old. I reside in Sacramento, Calif., where I retired after over 32 years of service to the state. I prayed, contributed to your campaign and watched every day’s telecasts of events lead to November 4, Election Day.

That night, as I watched the returns, I thought of the ’60s when we were still marching just for the right to vote. I thought of the struggles and the many lives lost during the quest for civil rights. I watched the faces of the people at your rallies, with tears in their eyes, clinging to the hope that “change” was truly within reach. Then, finally, election night, I watched the newscaster when he pronounced, “We are now projecting that Barack Obama has won, and will become the next president of the United States of America.”

Tears ran down my weary face as I realized that my God had indeed answered my prayers. I had prayed every night of the campaign that I would live to witness this event.

I am still praying that I live to see your inauguration, and that I will, at least, witness your first term in office. If my weary life ends, it will do so with pride and a great degree of satisfaction.

Please send me a belated Christmas card or a birthday card with your signature to put with all the magazine articles and souvenirs that I’m collecting.

May God bless you and your beautiful family. I will continue to pray that God will truly be with you as you tackle the enormous challenges ahead.


Alma N. Johnson, 86
retired state worker

I have a few concerns

I was always a Republican, but then I voted Democrat, because you look and present well, and you are an honest person. I know you will do right for the middle-class working people. But I have a few concerns.

Healthy people who receive welfare, food stamps, etc., must be put to work for their money; otherwise, they will take advantage of the system.

Healthy criminals must be put to work instead of sitting in jail doing nothing. With supervision, criminals can clean up the streets, drains and so much more.

I hope you will not increase college tuition for middle-class families like me, because I have a son going to college and the tuition is a bit high. Please, tax us less so we can keep more of our earnings. Tax the wealthy more, because they will have lots of money left over for themselves.

Working people must be able to have medical insurance. People from other countries should not get medical help unless they are working and paying taxes. I hope and pray that the good Lord keeps you and your family safe from any harm and danger.

Jacinta Clawson, 50
vocational nurse

One-on-one challenge

As I write this letter, I remain just as excited about your election as I was on that historic November 4 night. You inspired hope in millions of people within our country’s borders and beyond. For the first time in a generation, we the people realize what we can do when we come together, set aside our differences and embrace what we have in common.

As you know, I was recently elected mayor of my hometown, Sacramento, California. Like you, I decided to run because I realized that the people of Sacramento wanted more—they wanted a government that was responsive to their needs and more importantly, an elected official who can be held accountable. We hope to do here in Sacramento what you’ll do in Washington, and give our city—and our nation—a government that works for everyone.

Although the campaign of change has ended, an era of change has begun. Thank you for your vision, your courage and your commitment to the American people. I look forward to being in Washington at your inauguration.

Together we can,

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

P.S. When you do build that basketball court in the White House, I hereby challenge you to a game of one on one.

I saw you

I saw you when you landed at Sacramento Executive Airport, and I was in the restaurant and you were coming back from a fundraiser of some sort. But before you boarded the plane, you walked over to the people who were protecting you, and you extended your hand and said thank you to them and everyone. And from that moment on, I thought, “What a gentleman,” and, “What a character.” I said to myself if you happen to make it, I would vote for you, and I did. For the very first time I feel our country is finally headed in the right direction and that people can change.

John Legend wrote a song, and I believe it was written for you: “If You’re Out There.” I have never been more proud to be an American. I wish you Godspeed and I wish you blessings for you and your family.


You set the tone

I’m trying not to be bitter. I know you can’t actually do most of what you’ve promised; still, I like the idea of a politician who offers hope instead of fear. But change comes from the bottom up—as a former community organizer, you know that as well as I do.

What comes from the top is the tone of the discussion. You’ll be setting that, and I want to remind you that it matters, not just to the pundits and the politicos. It matters to all of us.

Mr. President-elect, you will set the tone for the rest of the country. And when you defend your decision to let a man open your inauguration with prayer who publicly compared me—and the rest of the gay community—to people who commit incest, perpetrate child abuse and practice polygamy, you’re not doing much to lead by example.

You’ve told us that there’s room for all of us here. We need for you to prove it. Can gay people be treated like full citizens? If you believe that’s true—and you set the right tone when you included us in your nomination speech at the convention and in your acceptance speech after your election—then you’ll have to acknowledge that Rick Warren sets the wrong tone.

Kel Munger
SN&R writer/critic

From a Sacramento ex-patriot

Please prove I erred horribly when, last April, I left America. From my view, however, I’d been beaten to the punch: America had already left me.

I miss America. It’s a beautiful country. But what I really miss is its essence. For America has never truly been about place, but ideals, the ones expressed so eloquently in the remarkable documents composing its very core: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Tragically, that essence is gone, deliberately buried by the distinctly un-American actions of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and others. Put bluntly, they have committed war crimes and authorized torture. How about appointing a commission to investigate and a special prosecutor to prosecute those deemed responsible for greenlighting torture and committing war crimes?

President-elect Obama, help make America America again. Prove me mistaken when I concluded my beloved country was gone forever.

Mark Drolette
former Sacramento resident
sent from Costa Rica

From a young Muslim

We look so often on the rest of the world as being downtrodden, “backwards” and uncivilized. As Americans, we have reveled in our ignorance and our inequity, and while driven by maddening greed, recklessness and a hatred for altruism, we have come to the crossroads of misfortune in which we turned our eyes away in shame and regret for our past sins. Yet in our moment of shame and regret, we saw a beacon of hope in the midst of a movement that captured a nation. You, President-elect Obama, were that beacon of hope.

As a young Muslim man, I have seen the tyranny of oppression creeping towards me. From the Patriot Act to Guantanamo Bay, a faith that has given hope to one out of every four people on the planet, including myself, has been demonized and, to some extent, criminalized. And when I looked to our 43rd president to lead and teach us the American values this country was built upon, all I saw was a man of limited understanding and a parochial worldview. Let that change with you.

You have an immense burden being placed upon your shoulders, Mr. President-elect. They say that the first 100 days of the presidency are the most effective in implementing policy, yet we hold you to greater standards. Yes, as you once said to the press, “The president can’t fix everything,” but you have opened the world to a brighter, freer, revitalized America. The entire world cheered that night as you stepped up to the podium to make your victory speech, and the entire world had in store their desires and needs to be projected upon you.

From our hopes of resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine to solving the economic catastrophe, you walked onto that podium carrying our dreams in mind and spoke words to be immortalized in history books to come. You can’t change the world on your own, Mr. Obama, and nobody expects you to. Yet, if you strive (and truly strive at that!), then the rest of us will raise you up when you fall.

Mohamed Ali, 19
former student American River College

We want to believe

Oh, how we want to believe in the change you promise—to believe that this country can change to something closer to its ideals. We want to believe that our long national nightmare is over. But it’s not. Somehow this country allowed the president and his people to break laws and violate the Constitution, to wiretap and spy on us all without warrants, to arrest and hold without charges, to torture—sometimes to death, to construct phony pretexts for real wars, to destroy other countries and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Not to mention election fraud and the glaring lies and inconsistencies in the official story of 9/11. And now we just let them walk away? Worse, let them come back later into positions of power (as the Iran-Contra criminals did) because their crimes and lies were not exposed, evidence was not made public, and they were not held accountable for their illegal actions?

We need a public investigation to stop them from getting away, for example, with “regretting” that pre-war “intelligence” was “bad” when it’s proven that they created the bad intelligence to justify their unprovoked attack on Iraq. I don’t care if they’re punished—I just want them exposed.

Jeanie Keltner, 70
host of Soapbox!, co-editor of Because People Matter

Your plan in Gaza?

As a first-generation-born Palestinian-American, the current affairs within the Middle East are of great concern to both me and my family. What is your stance on the right of return for displaced Palestinians? How do you plan to mediate the current conflicts between Israel and the people of Gaza? What are your plans of upholding international laws while forging your path to peace? Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response.

Farhat Bajjaliya, 25
environmental scientist

Photo Courtesy of Capital Public Radio

Be a brain surgeon

May I please have a paradigm shift? Let’s shift society away from terror and establish the truth. You will need to use the precision of a brain surgeon to extricate the corruption that lingers in the brains of this social-political-economy, but while you pick and choose your battles, remember: The children are our future. They should be our priority.

I’ve taught six years as a substitute teacher. I may teach one day in kindergarten and the next day in juvenile hall. I’ve no health care, no vacation, no sick leave, and if I do get sick and can’t work, no pay, but I trust the Almighty. I know my mission is to teach.

While the few squander the riches of the wealthiest nation on Earth, the children I teach sometimes sit in dirty classrooms suffering from diseases of filth and poverty with no school nurse in the office to tend their sores.

I cry and I am angry.

We need financial resources at the burning bottom of the melting pot. Be the leverage that elevates the long suffering at the social bottom into the decision-making to ensure the shift to the truth.

Sheila Riley, 58
a.k.a. Alimaatu Naffissatu
substitute teacher
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Four challenges

Your historic election has restored Americans’ faith in our political process. Similarly, the first actions you take following your inauguration have the potential to renew our nation’s leadership in the world, to put the country back on its feet and to allow us once again to look toward a brighter future for our children.

Economic security. National security. Energy security. Climate stability. Four of your top priorities, four of the primary concerns of America’s families and four challenges for which the Apollo Alliance—a national coalition of business, labor, environmental and community leaders—have put forward a bold solution.

Through our New Apollo Program—a comprehensive economic strategy which calls for the investment of $500 billion over the next 10 years to build our nation’s 21st-century clean-energy economy—we can create more than 5 million high-quality green-collar jobs for American workers. We can cut energy bills for families and businesses. We can accelerate the development of the nation’s vast clean-energy resources. And we can transform America into the global leader of the new green economy.

We look forward to working with you toward a brighter and more prosperous future for America’s families.

Phil Angelides
former California state treasurer
chairman of the Apollo Alliance

Object of our dreams

I walked by a magazine stand the other day and saw your picture on at least a third of the magazines displayed. It must be an amazing thing to see yourself as the object of so much attention.

On the radio last week, I heard a show that invited listeners to call in with their recommendations for the first big issue your administration should tackle. What will you do with all this good advice?

We all waited with bated breath to hear how you weathered a brief power outage while you were on vacation. I’ve read articles about how you’re going to stay in touch with your friends from college.

And I heard a long piece on NPR about the dog that your family hasn’t yet acquired. Everyone in the country has an opinion about this, too.

You are the object of our dreams about an end to racism (and all other forms of discrimination), our hopes for a better economy, our wishes for universal health care and our optimism about the possibilities of world peace. I’m thinking that you might also have time to teach all the children to play basketball.

I know we have projected impossible expectations onto you. You cannot possibly fail to disappoint us. It’s all a little bit embarrassing. And still, I am completely stoked.

Do your best. Be true to yourself. It’s all we can ask.

Kathi McShane
First United Methodist Church

Hope and standards

Where would I like to see President-elect Obama lead us and what “changes” would I like to see in America?

Hope: It’s easy to point out what’s wrong and quite another to be the leader who solves the problems and makes sure that they don’t happen again. What Americans are looking for today is a glimmer of hope! Provide positive optimism and a solid plan to get this country back on track! Be rigorous and demanding of those who serve in your administration.

Peace: As a veteran, every time I watch the PBS “roll call” of service members killed overseas, it breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes. End our participation in the war in Iraq. Resist further overseas excursions forcing our will on the world.

High standards: Aim high, don’t accept mediocrity and doing things the way we’ve always done them. Shake it up and get some “new blood” to build a great America once again!

Ken Cross
Sacramento Habitat for Humanity

Restore our dignity

I have never missed voting in a presidential primary or general election since my first primary in 1976 when I was 18 years old. Seventeen times I have gone to the voting booth and voted for the lesser of two evils, or against someone. On November 4, 2008, for the first time, I voted for a presidential candidate.

When I took a pen and filled in the bubble next to your and Joe Biden’s names, I knew it was the right decision. That said, I don’t agree with everything you say, and frankly, some things you say scare me, but I trust you.

Please be good to the Earth, treat all people with respect, compassion and understanding. Restore our national dignity to once again be the beacon of light. Have a strong national defense (not offense) and provide the means for development of energy independence.

Larry T. Buckle, 50
civil engineer

Pecker in your pocket, please

I am 47 years old and a lifelong Democrat, but you are the first candidate whose bumper sticker I’ve actually stuck permanently to my car. I am thrilled beyond belief to know that the president of my country can use big words—and even more importantly, think about their meaning before he utters them! I am proud to say that I consider you my president. Here’s my advice to you:

Get some rest. You are looking tired already, and you have a challenging eight years ahead of you. Be sure to spend time with your family. Despite the fact that you are the president of a powerful nation at a very troubled time in its history, your family is where your influence will be most profound and your responsibilities are most sacred.

And, although I assume it is unnecessary, I just have to say—keep your pecker in your pocket, please! Do this for Democrats everywhere; we’ve had enough stain-related scandals to last us a while.

Caroline Lenz, 47
Elk Grove

The one in 6 billion

You have many important priorities, but one overriding imperative: to break through our current denial about both our slow species suicide from the damage we are inflicting on the biosphere, and the total social transformation required to prevent it. If we are to survive, you must rally us to accept changes going far beyond anything yet discussed—through shared sacrifice starting at the top, on behalf of our kids, grandkids and future generations.

Of course, you have other enormously important tasks, particularly America’s economic revival, peace in the Middle East, national health insurance, nuclear-arms reduction and dismantling the 761 military bases and other costs of a dying empire that are bleeding us dry. But even if you achieve all these goals, they will matter little if we destroy our biosphere. Saving the biosphere is the necessary precondition for anything else you do to matter over the long run. You, like all leaders, presumably seek to make history. But there will be no history if you cannot awaken humanity to what it really must do to save itself.

Your key task is thus to use your bully pulpit on the world stage to educate all humanity, not just Americans, about the true dimensions of our biospheric crisis and the total mobilization required—beginning with eliminating our use of carbon-based fuels—to resolve it. Just as we humans live in denial about our own individual deaths, we are now in denial about our impending species death. Despite all the work done to date, for example, the simple fact is that global carbon dioxide emissions have steadily risen since Kyoto, and damage to the biosphere—as described in a recent shocking Economist cover story about ocean destruction—is outpacing even the most pessimistic of predictions.

Your role as educator is thus ultimately more important than anything you can actually achieve to combat global warming in the next four years. The simple fact is that ending global warming requires a transformation of not only our institutions but the human psyche. For millions of years, evolution has favored those species best able to procreate and transform raw materials into finished products providing material security. Now, for the first time, these evolutionary adaptive behaviors have suddenly become maladaptive, threatening our survival.

You are the single human being among the 6 billion of us who can do the most to awaken the world, It may well be that even a president of the United States focused on saving our species cannot succeed. But you clearly have no more important task than to try.

Fred Branfman
author and lifelong activist

Mobilize the country

I’ve been scared lately. I imagine even you must be a bit nervous. The challenges—the crises—are so many and so great. And you have millions, here and abroad, looking to you for answers and leadership and, dare I say it, salvation. The circumstances almost demand that you accomplish dozens of very big things. And you’ve got four years. Go.

I’ve also been hopeful lately. I’m 34 years old, and I have never felt as proud of my country as I have these last months. This country seems remarkably adept at pulling off the best and the worst that humankind has to offer. I’m hopeful that you and your election are examples of us at our best. And I wish for all of us the presence to prioritize the right things and the patience to accept that though the best fruits of our efforts will not likely be enjoyed by us, they will, hopefully, be enjoyed by our children.

For the last 40 or 50 years, our nation has made horribly and compoundingly bad decisions across a huge swath of critical areas: the military-industrial complex, international relations, education, health care, labor, taxes, energy, community planning, water, food, conservation, governmental oversight and functioning. And our world is a mess: medieval warring, nation-state and corporate bullying, cells of terror, unprecedented disparities of wealth and deprivation, needless suffering.

Still, I am hopeful that you will be a great leader—that you will mobilize the country to do what needs to be done and that you will explain why and when and how. Thank you for showing up when you did.

Graham Brownstein
executive director
Environmental Council of Sacramento

Rigor, relevance, relationships

First of all, congratulations. Your campaign inspired millions of Americans to embrace their best hopes for what the country can become.

I believe that there is no greater long-term challenge to America’s future than in how it educates its children. Our school system is crucial to the nation’s economic competitiveness, yet the system we have now is failing our students and our society.

In California, 24 percent of students drop out of high school. The numbers are even higher for Latino and African-American students. Today’s students need a new “three Rs” to succeed. They need rigor, they need relevance and they need relationships. Specifically, students need rigorous and relevant class work that will prepare them for middle-class or better jobs and meaningful relationships with teachers and other professionals that will show them that someone cares about their success.

Your administration can develop the new “three Rs” in our schools by making the very real connection between the classroom and the economy.

I was heartened that you spoke on the campaign trail of investing over $150 billion over the next 10 years to encourage private efforts to produce clean energy. My advice to you is to marry that necessary energy and economic policy to an education agenda focused on providing opportunity for all.

Here in California, we are working on an education/economic-development strategy that will incentivize businesses in the emerging green economy to partner with schools to create career technical-education academies.

This is a strategy rooted in the strength of California—innovation. Careers in the emerging renewable-energy industry have the potential to be the linchpin to America’s economic comeback and get our schools back on track. I encourage you to bring this strategy to scale in partnership with the states.

Darrell Steinberg
California Senate president pro tempore

Steer us, sir

As an 80-year-old grandmother of four and great-grandmother of Olivia Mae, I am most grateful for this opportunity to correspond with our president-elect.

Many of the changes that have taken place in my husband’s and my lifetimes are difficult to understand. Born in 1928 and married in 1951, many values we hold dear have changed dramatically in the name of efficiency and expediency. This so-called “electronic age,” global warming and participation in a global market has left us in a crisis and has us befuddled.

Working for 17 years as a social worker in the Sacramento welfare department, I experienced what ignorance and poverty does to people. Why a rich country like ours forces the elderly and especially children to go without health insurance—it’s obscene. The rich live a lavish lifestyle fit for royalty while our homeless population grows.

I don’t know the answers, but have prayed since I stood on a street corner with my fellow peaceniks protesting our country invading Iraq.

At last we are blessed with a visionary leader and his Cabinet to steer us, sir, into a future fit for our grandchildren.

Shirley M. Pooley, 80
licensed clinical social worker

I did not vote for you

Congratulations to you and your family for a brilliant presidential campaign. I did not vote for you, but after the American people spoke on Election Day, my prayers and best wishes will always be with you.

But I have some real concerns about your qualifications to fill such a demanding and dangerous position. You never served in the military. You haven’t even completed one term as a U.S. senator, and you have virtually no foreign-policy experience. To further exacerbate my concerns, you have appointed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

It is my greatest hope that you are able to govern fairly, resolve problems enthusiastically and remain safe in your journey as the 44th president of the United States.

Once you are sitting in the Oval Office and reality has set in, in hindsight I have to wonder if the desire to put the first African-American in the White House didn’t outweigh the necessity to put the most qualified man into the highest office in the land.

In all honesty, I fear terrorist attacks on our soil will begin again shortly after you take office. Please prove me wrong.

May God watch over you, President-elect Barack Obama!

Scott R. Hadley, 54
U.S. Navy

The book you should read

There is a book you should read. You should keep it at your bedside and read it every night before falling asleep. You should read it over and over again.

In it, the author states that that the “United States has been guilty of the kinds of political, economic and military intervention into the affairs of other sovereign nations that it would not tolerate of foreign intervention into our affairs.” To regain our aura of a Republic of Virtue, he says, we must stop doing that.

In it, he states that a “prudent use of military force” would be justified for the protection of the United States interests, but he also adds that it has been a historic failure for the United States to “seek to impose democracy with the barrel of a gun.”

In it, he talks about politics, our Constitution, race and values in language that is both pragmatic and moral. It is a guideline for effective, proper leadership of our country.

The book is The Audacity of Hope. You wrote it.

Bob Schmidt
retired Capitol reporter

Photo Courtesy of Capital Public Radio

I can do more

Congratulations! You have a lot of work cut out for you, but don’t put all the pressure on yourself. Oftentimes, grumblers and those who have lost faith in the government are Americans who want to make this country a better place, but don’t know how. I think that our lack of involvement is a lack of democracy. I turned 18 shortly before the 2008 election, and everyone spelled out for me how important it is to vote. But I think there is more I can do for my country than vote.

I want to be empowered to take action for my country, but this is not enough. I feel that all Americans need a call to action. There are so many problems facing America and the world today, and as much as I trust in the change you will bring to us, I know that it is not enough. Please call Americans out to serve our country through volunteering or educating ourselves or conserving energy or helping our neighbors or any other thing that we can do to make our country better. Trust Americans to do more. We have made our voices clear by voting you into office, now please invite us to do more—to be a part of the solution.

Elena Frink, 18
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