Dear Mr. President,
I have spent the past four years – five or six if you count your campaign – defending my love and respect for you as our leader based almost entirely on your character. In conversations about politics and bickering with friends and colleagues about whether you are a “good president,” I do not let myself get caught up in the decisions, policies, and complex Acts that you have made and passed to improve Healthcare, re-stabilize our economy, bring soldiers home from Afghanistan and Iraq, or reduce the unemployment rate in our country. Most of my friends scoff at my neglect for the intricacies and consequences of decisions that you have, according to them, single-handedly made.It is not that I neglect them, I just choose not to act like an expert amongst non-experts alike. I do not let myself get caught up in arguments about your decisions because I, nor the people I converse with about such topics, have the knowledge base to know what exactly goes into these decisions and what outcomes were expected when decisions were made. Furthermore, we don’t have the knowledge base to completely understand what outcomes have occurred and what that means for our country. I share your frustration and distaste for cable news because no one knows what they are talking about 99.9% of the time. What the American public is fed through media, news, and dedicated bloggers about your decisions is about as valuable as the trash I took out this morning.
As a disclaimer, I want to mention that I do follow your policies, decisions, and Acts that are passed or in committee to be determined. I applaud you for protecting the rights of women in an era where we constantly feel as though we’re being pushed back to 1942. I applaud your dedicate to the health of America and seeing the long term value of preventative healthcare. In fact, I applaud you, in general, for seeing the long term impact of your decisions rather than “what will this policy do for me and my administration in the next year or two.” That attitude is both dangerous and ignorant for the well-being of our country. Personally, I believe the uproar about your decisions over the past four years stems from the fact that America wants to see immediate change and yet 9 out of 10 times, change takes a long time. History and the reality of our own lives should be enough to show us that, but apparently we are not at the capacity, as a nation, to comprehend that. Myself included. I am desperate for change in higher education and financial aid as I drown in over $100,000 in student loan debt and I am not a lawyer or a doctor. But I am grateful for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and I understand that change takes time, in this case, 10 years. We’ll get there.
But let me return to your character and my rationalization for my vote this coming election year. As a social worker, I value and depend upon the strengths-based approach and person-centered model when facing any situation or working with any individuals in my professional as well as personal life. I look at the election for president through this lens in two ways. First, I consider the president’s strengths. Your list is long and strong, Mr. President. You prioritize – so much that you only wear gray or blue suits to remove one more decision from the long list of those you make each and every day. You understand the necessity of routine when you have a schedule as chaotic, versatile, and demanding as your own, yet you do not lose sight of the value of surprise, freedom to participate in leisure activities, and freedom to “wander,” as you said in your interview with Michael Lewis. You cling to the reality and lifestyle of those who are not in public office because frankly, your decisions impact those people the most. In short, you recognize the constraint and privilege that comes with being President yet you do not let that dictate the choices you make every day about America. You are genuine. You also told Michael Lewis that you feel a lot better about decisions and arguments you are making when you believe the words you are saying. Every time I hear you speak, that is so obvious. Do I even have to mention that the same can be said for your beautiful, intelligent, and driven wife after her awesome speech at the Democratic Nation Convention? Her love for you was so obvious and pure throughout her entire speech. Lastly – though the list can go on and on – you know you are not always the expert and you appreciate the input of your team. This is evident in so many of your decisions but Michael Lewis exemplified this in his telling of your decisions to intervene in Libya. You called upon many staff, including junior staff, because having them make the argument you wanted to hear was more important than you making it yourself. A true leader must value and consider those who he leads in order to achieve success. You embody that.
When thinking of the presidential election from a person-centered lens, I first consider you as a person. Your story of working your way up and your modesty as you did so – your best friend didn’t even know you were as successful as you were until he read your book. The way you love Michelle and father your two stunningly beautiful daughters. The way you carry yourself in the public eye. The way you have your values and morals and refuse to loose sight of them despite the strong efforts to blur or taint them with politics and greed.The way you ensure clarity when making decisions and do not hesitate to reach out when you think you may be in over your head. The way you refuse to show emotion when the emotion is not genuinely there. The way you chose your words carefully and strategically not for a selfish reason but to ensure you are speaking clearly and adequately so the American people are aware of your expectations and intentions. You are a genuinely good person.
Secondly, I view the presidential election through a lens that determines whether you value strengths-based and person-centered. You constantly refer to the strengths of our nation and how those strengths can contribute to policy and action for change. You constantly point out the working families and how hard they are trying to make ends meet despite facing several stressors and barriers. You focus on the good whenever you can and when you have to focus on the bad, you paint the picture of what a good outcome will be. You see the strengths in your staff and you utilize them. You see the strengths of the other party as you try to break down party tensions to achieve a common goal. You focus on the strengths of your administration and the strength that the American people portray as we enter into another election year rather than the flaws and faults of your competitor. In terms of the person-centered model, you constantly consider who will be impacted by the decisions that you make – whether it is the millions of people being threatened in Libya, the American soldiers fighting for our freedom, or the low income family trying to pay their mortgage but facing foreclosure. You consider the people. You are for the people.
Many people think I am crazy to focus on these aspects. But I really don’t think I am. Because when I fell in love with my partner, these were the attributes that I fell in love with. When I pick my friends and look back on my life-long friendships, these are the attributes I consider and depend on. When I interview for a job, I expect to see these attributes in my boss who is sitting in a leadership position. When I am stuck between a rock and a hard place at work, I look to people who will exemplify genuine and rational decision making skills to help me. When I chose to be a social worker I did so because I valued team work, strengths-based approach, meeting the person where they are at, and seeking justice for those who don’t know how to seek justice for themselves. I do not understand how America doesn’t think about the election and voting for president through this lens. Nor do I understand how we cannot hold our president to the same standards to which we hold the most important people in our lives.
So when I said I don’t dwell on the intricacies of argument for and against your policy, I say this because I don’t have to. Just as I obeyed (for the most part) my parents rules because they had my best interest in mind. Just as I took the risk to fall in love hoping and deep down knowing my partner has and will always have my best interest in mind. Just as I trust my mentors and leaders that lead me to have not only my best interest in mind but those that we serve as social workers.I do not have faith that Mr. Romney will put party differences aside and do what is best for this country, especially the more vulnerable and discriminated. I do not have faith that Mr. Romney will fix our economy without sacrificing the poor and middle class. I do not have faith that “asking your parents for money” will solve the financial crisis affecting so many college students today. I do not have faith that Mr. Romney means well, cares about the American people, and can step aside and let others help him make decisions. At the end of the day. Romney does not epitomize a true, strong leader.
I have faith in you based on everything I discussed in this “letter” because I know you have the best interest of the people in mind. You’ve instilled that faith and trust, Mr. President, and for that you have my respect and my vote.
All my best,
A concerned but devoted citizen