A letter to my president on the eve of his departure

I was just 21 when you showed up in my political periphery, and I can’t remember what it was about you that caught my attention. Your poise, perhaps? Your eloquence? Your youthful optimism? Whatever it was, it managed to make me, a one-time Fox-News-watching red-stater, cast my first vote for a Democrat.

Over the past eight years, I’ve gained boundless perspective and learned incredible empathy, and I have you, in part, to thank for it. Throughout your presidency, you have been a model of dignity, intelligence, and compassionate leadership, not only for Americans, but for the entire world.

But in spite of your immense power, you have remained truly of and for the people. You were elected to serve us, to be our greatest ally, and over the past eight years, you have done just that. From making healthcare more widely available, to championing gay rights, to protecting our natural resources, to ending the war in Iraq, the list of your achievements on our behalf goes on and on and on.

Best of all, you’ve made us laugh. Your dad jokes, your bromance with uncle Joe, your mic drop, your sheer delight at meeting baby pope—over the past eight years, you’ve brought us so much joy. And that’s why I’m so crushed to see you go.

If the last two months have been any indication, the next four years are going to be the antithesis of the Obama presidency—erratic, harsh, and devoid of levity. For that reason, I hope you’ll stay close by. We need your optimism now more than ever. We need you to remind us of what we had, and to assure us that our country will one day embrace progress, humanity, and grace again. We had it once, and we can have it back.

Yes we can.