You are happy tonight because we are allowing an extra 30 minutes of screens. This is made possible because a great man is addressing the nation and the current state of our cable-boycott/streaming TV doesn't presently allow us the ability to pause live television. He is great because he is instantly wagging a finger to silence those in the crowd who began to 'boo' at the mention of our next President. He is great because he is thoughtful in his words. He is great because he has boundless and blatant respect and honor for the women in his life and in this nation; noting that his girls are indeed both 'beautiful and smart' but then acknowledging the greater importance of also being kind, thoughtful, and passionate. He is great because he understands that the world is a complicated and nuanced, and that we are 'all in this together, and we rise and fall as one.' He is great because he doesn't just tout his accomplishments but he also acknowledges his failures and shortcomings and learns from his mistakes. He is great because he cares deeply for the people in this country, giving all of us love and respect. He is great because he would never dream to single out or demean or humiliate a person or group of people. He is great because he consistently rises above the bleak ugliness that has been flung at and around him, and sometimes at each other in his name. He is great because he is a student of history, and he understands that we often stand in the same places we've already been and we must learn from yesterday to move on this time with greater success. He is great because he is begging us to stand together and see ourselves in each other. He is great because he acknowledges our desire to retreat into our own 'bubbles' of sameness and security; accepting only 'information that fits our opinions' but asks us to come out and open our hearts to residents of different bubbles. He is great because he understands we need to welcome new information that challenges our own opinions and that 'science and reason matter' in order to grow and succeed. He is great because he calls out hypocrisy, even when it implicates his own party. He is great because he sees our nation's true enemies, and one of those enemies is 'an intolerance of dissent and free thought.'
He is great because he is gracious and sincerely humble. He is great because he knows that 'democracy can buckle in the face of fear' and 'we must guard against the values that make us who we are.' He is great because he understands that we cannot discriminate against a greater group because of the horrific acts of a few. He is great because he understands the power of fear and the threat it poses: 'Let's be vigilant, but not afraid.' He is great because he notes that 'our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.' He is great because he understands that government works best when lawmakers 'cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.'
He is great because he energizes and inspires and he challenges us to 'accept the responsibility of citizenship.'
His politics may not align with everyone's; indeed, they come in conflict with the politics of many. But to have a man with such enormous class, dignity, and grace lead us and then leave us with such a powerful sense of optimism and encouragement is such an honor and one we should all acknowledge.
I will not spoil the tone of this letter by providing a comparison to our next President. I will instead leave you with this brief concluding thought:
There will be people in your life that you will be driven to emulate. There will be some draw, some nugget of that person's personality that will peak your interest and engage you. I don't expect you to find your mentor in a former President who left office before you were out of preschool; but I hope there continue to be men and women like him who stand in front of giant crowds to inspire us to be better; and that they inspire you to be better.
I love you.
Now turn off those damn iPads and go to bed.