October 9, 2013
Barack Obama, President
United States of America
Dear Mr. President,
In my 58 years, despite having participated in every election I have been eligible for, and having participated in political campaigns in Massachusetts throughout my adult life, this is the first time I am writing to a sitting President.
Frustrated and disillusioned by the Bush years and what I perceived as a growing malaise in the US, my British-born wife and I left for Cambodia in 2010 to volunteer, write and seek a more balanced, peaceful life in another country. Our experiences have opened our eyes and hearts and introduced us to different ways of thinking. We have also developed a deep appreciation for what it means to be American, and we have a new-found respect for what our country means to others around the world.
But that’s not why I’m writing to you.
I am writing firstly to support you and your administration. While I may not agree with all your decisions and policies, I remain steadfastly in support of your excellent work on the Affordable Healthcare Act, which I equally steadfastly refuse to refer to as “Obamacare.” (It could as appropriately be called “ClintonCare,” or, more perhaps more appropriately, “KennedyCare.” As a young reporter, I covered Teddy’s first press conference announcing his ideas for a national health care plan at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Holyoke, Mass., in 1978. The ideas he posited then are largely a mirror image of what your administration has enacted, and to what seems to have incensed the Republican extremists to the point of losing their minds).
The main reason for my letter is to share my observations about what you and your administration mean to the rest of the world. You travel, but you don’t see what I see. You connect with leaders, but you bypass the citizens of the world who regard you as a ray of light in an otherwise very dark room.
You are regarded as a force of goodness. You represent unlimited personal potential, and in the eyes of countless people we have spoken with around the world you stand for the future of a better, brighter, more positive United States of America.
I have seen the “Obama! Good!” reaction in tuk tuk drivers in Cambodia and India, in shopkeepers in Vietnam and Thailand. I have seen villagers in Myanmar mention your name in the same breath as Aung San Suu Kyi, which is no small gesture of admiration.
During the final stages of the recent federal election, one of my Cambodian colleagues remarked that if you ran for any top office in an ASEAN nation you’d earn at least 80% of the vote.
After your November victory and before your visit to Phnom Penh, I struck up a conversation with a tuk tuk driver on a Phnom Penh street. We talked about your victory and what it meant to the world, and I wish you could have seen the light of hope in his eyes, Mr. President. It was a glorious thing to behold, without question, and I wrote a blog post about it. words-of-hope-from-the-streets-of-phnom-penh.
As a supporter, a fan of government when it works for the people, and a diehard Red Sox fan – which makes me a bit of an expert on the value of patience, hard work and faith in pursuit of all things worth fighting for – I thank you for your leadership, your strength and your courage.
I also encourage you to stay strong in the face of detractors, and to remember that what you work for, what you speak to and what you hold dear resonates not just across the United States, but also to all the corners of the earth.
I have seen the trust, hope and love in remote villages in Asia – for the United States, and for you.
Good luck, and Godspeed in your work. The world is waiting, watching and hoping.
With best personal regards,
Frank C. Yetter
Formerly of Marblehead, Mass.
Now traveling the world