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From President to President: Obama's Final Letter to Trump

by Countable | 9.5.17

Hello, fine Countable users. I have exciting news! (That is, if you're a democracy-dork like I am.)

It's finally out. The text of outgoing President Barrack Obama's private letter to incoming President Donald Trump is available to all of us. CNN journalist Kevin Liptak obtained and released it.

Here's why I find this so exciting -- and I think you should too.

At the very end of every president's tenure, he writes a private letter to his successor, leaving it on the Oval Office desk. This chain started with President Ronald Reagan, and has continued unbroken. It has become a deep and stately tradition among our nation's leaders, and an enduring symbol of one of America's greatest achievements: the peaceful transfer of power.

When the letters eventually leak out (and they do!) they provide a genuine glimpse into the minds of our leaders, one unsullied by the craze of a campaign or the spin of the news cycle.

I always find these letters inspiring and deeply satisfying -- and President Obama's does not disappoint. So imagine yourself back to mid-January, just before inauguration, and read Obama's letter to Trump. And please leave a comment below -- we all at Countable would love to hear your thoughts, as always.

-- Andrea Seabrook, Countable's Managing Editor

The full text of President Obama's letter to President Trump

Dear Mr. President -

Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.

This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don't know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.

First, we've both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It's up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that's willing to work hard.

Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It's up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that's expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.

Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions -- like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties -- that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it's up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.

And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They'll get you through the inevitable rough patches.

Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.

Good luck and Godspeed,


(Photo Credit: The Obama White House Photo Stream via Flickr)


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