CNN published a letter on Sunday that Barack Obama left on Inauguration Day for incoming President Trump. It was both congratulatory and cautionary. Former President Obama urged Trump to guard democratic institutions and traditions and “sustain the international order.”
There was humility in Obama’s letter, “This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful,” Mr. Obama wrote in the letter, “Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.”
The letter was written in long hand on White House stationary and left in the top drawer of the Oval Office desk. Obama took the opportunity to highlight deep concerns that any departing president might have and also acknowledge the huge responsibility of the job both nationally and internationally.
Obama highlighted both comparison and contrast between the two men saying, “we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune,” adding, “Not everyone is so lucky.” He then challenged the incoming president reminding him that it is important to “build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard,” he wrote. Barack Obama made a case for preserving “instruments of democracy” regardless of what the “push and pull of daily politics” may bring.
Obama’s letter was similar to the one he received from George W. Bush. He wrote, “There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. Your ‘friends’ will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me.”
President Trump has spoken positively about Obama’s letter telling ABC News that it was “beautiful” and “complex”. Trump also said, “In fact, I called him and thanked him for the thought that was put into this letter,” Mr. Trump said.
Here is the letter in its entirety, as reported by CNN:
Dear Mr. President –
Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.
This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.
First, we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard.
Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.
Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.
And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They’ll get you through the inevitable rough patches.
Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.
Good luck and Godspeed,
What do you think about this letter from Obama to Trump?
Credit: New York Times