Letter to the Editor from James Cook

In Chicago on Tuesday, Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech. He used a few quotes from George Washington’s farewell address, a reminder of what our first constitutional president said to the nation in 1796. Washington courageously saved this nation for democracy, rescuing it from a monarchy that had ruthlessly ruled Europe with an iron fist like so many in the past millennia. After Yorktown, he surrendered his commission to the Continental Congress and several years later went on to be elected unanimously as our first civilian commander in chief. Only 6 percent of the country could vote. Only white men of property were eligible to cast their ballots. He was aligned with no political parties and listened to both sides of an argument, tolerant of oppositional voices and guided by advice given by all sides of a pending issue. Through the travail of the times, he personified ethics, character, temperament and personal disposition unmatched by all presidents … until 2008. It is fitting that our 44th president cites our first as part of his farewell address. In the face of persistent, almost overwhelming prejudicial and political opposition, Obama rescued the country from irrepressible economic collapse, relieved much of our burden of international conflict and passed essential domestic measures long overdue, but didn’t have the luxury of a white man being unanimously elected by only white gentrified voters in the 18th century.It is this writer’s hope that Obama doesn’t bid us farewell, but to rest awhile, reappear on the American scene, get back to work, and once more help us regain the country that Washington helped to form more than two centuries ago.

As Washington is known as the “father of our country,” perhaps we might endow Barack Obama as its son.

— James D. Cook, Schaumburg

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