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Opinion

Congratulatory letters to McCain, Obama

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November 6, 2008

I have been following the 2008 election attentively since the primaries began. I am not a very political person, but I do have my own opinions and concerns about both of the major candidates. I decided to write two congratulatory letters-one addressed to John McCain, the other to Barack Obama. Needless to say, I will only have to mail one of these letters, and right now I have yet to find out which one…but at least we’ll know by the time this column is printed. Whichever candidate wins, I wish them all the best.

Letter to John McCain, Republican Party
President-elect McCain, I congratulate you on winning one of the most contentious and important elections of our time. Throughout your years as a soldier, prisoner of war, and politician, you have done your country proud. I have faith that you will continue to do so in the White House.

Even now, it is clear to me that you still have plenty of heart and determination left. You’ve gone toe to toe with an inspired rival and defeated him, against almost everyone’s expectations. As president, it’s likely that you will not be intimidated by either party in Congress and can serve as an effective bridge between them. I hope your vice president-elect, Sarah Palin, gathers as much experience in her office as she can and fulfills her role effectively.

I respect your accomplishments, and enjoyed your nomination speech. However, I must say that over the course of the campaign, I found the tone of your ads offensive and discouraging. Examination from impartial fact-checking sites showed them to be riddled with inaccuracies and largely devoid of the “straight talk” on which you’ve built your political reputation.

My mother remarked a few days ago that even if she were not an Obama supporter, your ads might have caused her to vote for him out of spite. Unfortunately, this is what I have come to expect from most political candidates, and you certainly were no maverick in that regard.

I do not agree with some of your national security policies, especially your resolve to stay in Iraq until the war is “won.” I do not believe either side can win such a war-or, if we can, the victory will come at too great a cost. The time has come for the U.S. to stop throwing its weight around abroad and come up with a more efficient and rational way of dealing with its neighbors and finishing off the people who actually attacked us in the first place.

Though your beliefs differ from mine in some ways, I wish you luck as our new president. The way the economy is now, you certainly have your work cut out for you.

Letter to Barack Obama, Democratic Party
Barack Obama, congratulations on becoming the new president of the United States. Your charisma and remarkable speeches, as well as a formidable “grassroots” campaign, made you an unstoppable force in 2007 and 2008. I hope you take some time to savor your victory, because now the real work begins. You will soon take the reigns of an enormous nation with a reeling economy, and a confused, disjointed population.

Your candidacy and campaign have actually made me, and many other young people, care about politics again. Your speeches have been inspiring, and your theme very effective. You have sought not merely to exploit Americans’ dissatisfaction with George W. Bush and his policies, but to turn that disappointment into hope. That puts you a cut above most politicians in this country.

But that’s the bottom line-you are still a politician. You have manufactured your share of misleading ads during both the Democratic primaries and the presidential contest, and I didn’t take them at face value any more than I did Sen. McCain’s.

Nor did I believe the ridiculous Internet rumors that have circulated about you in recent months, because the real problem with your candidacy is already quite apparent: you have made many promises to the American people, some of which you can’t realistically fulfill (according to independent economic experts, at least).

That could make it very hard for you to do your job in the long run, and to maintain all the optimism and enthusiasm you have built up among your supporters.

For the good of the country, I sincerely hope you can make good on your ambitious claims. I wish you luck as our newly elected president and commander-in-chief.