October 1, 2013 by Isaac Hovet
In light of the government shutdown and subsequent presidential address to the country, I felt compelled to write this letter to President Barack Obama. Perhaps in it you can find your own frustration that is beyond ideals, politics and policies. It is a frustration in leadership.
Dear Mr. President,
I readily admit I do not know the complexity of your role. At age 35 I am barely age eligible to be the president of United States America. I suppose having lived 35 years gives me just enough perspective to weigh in on matters as significant as to what is facing you and the government. I recognize that at age 18 I have a vote, but now that I’m 35 I, by virtue of my age, could lead this country if elected. Procuring a nomination and funding for a campaign are entirely different matters; matters I have little interest in.
I will take a liberty that I have not taken in many years. When I was younger, I took as many liberties as I could in critiquing leaders and governments and policies… It only took a few years of real-life to shut me up for a while.
Now, at age 35, I am a husband, a father of three and a pastor of a small congregation in rural Oregon.
Although the decisions I make for my family and congregation don’t carry the same weight and international magnitude as yours, I still look to leaders who have come before me to be a model for leading effective change in the midst of adversity.
I assume you and I share a common hero: President Abraham Lincoln. Recently I had the opportunity to be at the Lincoln Memorial. I gazed up at his statue and remembered what Lincoln accomplished. He didn’t change history just because he was right, although he was. He isn’t immortalized because he increased the polarity that already existed, but instead found ways to bring us together.
He is remembered for his courage, for his strength in adversity and for his ability to untangle political and legislative logjams. At no other time in history has a President had more right to blame a faction or a separatist movement as being the cause of the trouble our country faced.
But, he didn’t. Time and time again he saw us and spoke to us as one nation. Even as the Confederates were waging violent war on the Union, he spoke peace and reconciliation and led in humility.
As a result of his wisdom and fortitude and strength and courage, the nation was able to heal. The divisive actions of the South did not prevail. We are one nation today because of his willingness to lead, not from a partisan perspective, but as the leader of the whole country; a country under fire.
The government shutdown last night. I understand negotiations did not go as either side intended. But today, I experienced from you an absolute relinquishment of your potential to lead us through this difficult season. You addressed the nation as a Democrat. You addressed 300 million people under the guise that the quagmire we are facing is solely at the hands of the party you are not a part of. Your words were one-sided and had nothing to do with reconciliation or hope. Visually, it was magnificent to see Americans standing beside you. You wanted to communicate solidarity, but your partisan frustrations were revealed. And the nation has been left with no president, instead only a mouthpiece of the left.
I am no political expert and I have a little commentary on healthcare and the issues that are facing the negotiations today. But I do know leadership. I know that it takes courage and humility to lead well. I know what it is like when we are being divided; and Mr. President, divisive words is what I heard from you today.
I exhort you to stand in front of this country and to lead as President Lincoln did. You are a direct benefactor of his humble leadership. Mr. Lincoln had a rural perspective that was able to cut through the bombasticism and pomp to get to the real matters at hand. See what is before you, Mr. President: a divided country. We aren’t divided because of our ideals, we are divided because of politicians who mimic teenager’s popularity contests and flimsy principles. We are divided because leaders acquiesce to poll-playing and flaccid rhetoric.
You and I are fellow Americans and I urge you to elevate your expectation of yourself as the President of United States. Bring us together, not under one political persuasion or partisan politic, but as Americans. You have promised this before. You have the voice that could carry us further than where we are today. But it will take humility on your part.
Mr. President, bring us together. Lead as an American.
As I have promised you before, I am praying for you. I pray that you’d be kept safe. I pray that’d you’d be able to have sweet moments with your wife and your children. I pray that as you lie down at night, you’d be able to rest. I pray that you’d be given the wisdom to lead well. May God give you favor.