Open Letter from Daniel W. Hynes
September 14, 2006
Hon. Barack Obama
United States Senator
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510Dear Barack.
Welcome back from a most successful trip to Africa. I was very impressed with your willingness to speak out on so many important issues that not only impact the continent of Africa but the world as a whole. It was great to see the overwhelming positive and exuberant welcome you received. As an American citizen it felt good to see that response.
I know we are in the midst of making arrangements to have lunch, but I thought I should proceed with what I am doing prior to that time, because I want people to know that this decision is indeed mine and mine alone, and not the result of some mutual politically strategic thinking.
I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that in my heart of hearts I would like to be presently serving in the U.S. Senate and supporting you for re-election to the Illinois Senate. However, as each day passes I feel more comfortable with the results of 2004, and to be equally honest, if indeed I were in the U.S. Senate, I doubt that I would have been invited, let alone make such a rousing and memorable Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, nor would I be returning triumphantly from Africa having demonstrated a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind.”
In fact, over the past few months I have come to the conclusion that the Democrat who can best unify our party, and more importantly our nation, and who can provide the leadership that can keep us both a land of freedom and liberty as well as safe and secure is you.
While I have no doubt that you have seriously entertained seeking high national office at some point in the future, you never in 2004 contemplated that that time would be now. Indeed, for you to jump into the race as a freshman senator might have been considered an act of hubris. But not now.
I have decided to publicly announce that I intend to openly support you for President of the United States in 2008 should you run, and in fact urge you to seek the Presidency. There are other excellent potential candidates in the Democratic Party who each have something unique to offer. But you and you alone can best put together the broadest possible coalition with the charisma and excitement, as well as the substance, to win the election in November, 2008.
To anyone who says you’re too young, I say that if elected you will be the 4th youngest president (Teddy Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton were all younger than you when they became President). You are already older at this moment than John Kennedy was when he was inaugurated. So age is not a legitimate issue.
Indeed, with a world whose population has a great majority under the age of 30, you provide a symbol of leadership to which young people can more readily relate. What some may consider a weakness or political vulnerability I believe it to be an incredible strength.
To those who say you don’t have enough experience I would say that you have the same amount of elected experience that Abraham Lincoln had when he ran for President in 1860 and by 2008 will have two more years. (Lincoln served four two-year terms in the Illinois House, and one two year term in the U.S. House).
It has been said that no one is ever sufficiently prepared for the Presidency. Indeed. As important as the number of years of experience in elected office, is the character and innate leadership skills of the person seeking the highest office in our land.
I have watched you stick to your principles without engaging in personalities. I’ve seen you develop alliances, issue by issue, with senators with whom you disagree.
I truly believe that you are the person for these times. Having spent a lot of time with you on the campaign trail in 2003 and 2004 I got to know you as few people have or will have, and I can attest that you are indeed a person of great substance and principle, kind and compassionate, firm, fair and tough, visionary and simultaneously focused.
I am sure that you are receiving a lot of supportive mail from individual citizens who have heard you speak across the nation, where you have become the single most popular Democratic invitee. There may be other elected officials who have openly endorsed you, but whether I am the first or not is irrelevant. What is relevant, to me, is that I lend my voice and name to the growing chorus of Americans who are calling on you to seize this moment in history and help lead us into a new era of American politics.
The well respected historian, Robert McElvaine, Professor at Millsaps College in Mississippi (and Mario Cuomo’s biographer) has written an article supporting your candidacy as a 200th birthday gift for Lincoln, to bind the nation’s wounds. What a fitting tribute your candidacy would make to the legacy of Lincoln and to all those who have labored to keep faith with his message of freedom and prosperity for all.
And I will tell you that I have deliberately timed my announcement with the fact that you will be speaking at Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry in Iowa on September 17. While it is not my goal to bring additional pressure into your life, it is my goal to elevate the national discussion about your potential candidacy and to further impress upon you the breadth of support you have throughout this country.
On Election night in 2004, during my concession speech to you I talked about the promise of America that brought my grandparents here from Ireland. About the undying hope in each one of us and how that hope connects us.
I still believe in that promise, and that hope is alive in each of us. And with the birth of my first child, and two more soon on the way, I believe in it now with more conviction than ever. I believe that you have the unique ability to help restore people’s faith in their government, restore civility to Washington and restore the good name of our country throughout the world.
I want you to know that I will be happy to do anything to assist you in making this dream a reality.
By the way, I hope we can still find time to have lunch, though I realize what I am doing will possibly cause more disruptions to your already hectic schedule.
There are those who will say that my support of you is self serving. And while that is a rather cynical view, it is also accurate. I think your election as President is best for our country and my children, and to the extent that this is self serving so be it.
There is nothing in the Constitution that says the President has to take his oath of office on the steps of the Capitol. I would hope I will have the privilege of seeing you take the oath of office as President of the United States on January 20, 2009 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, less than a month before the 200th birthday of the Great Emancipator.
With all best wishes,
Daniel W. Hynes
Illinois State Comptroller