I know that you understand that your leadership has an important spiritual component, and is not just political: that is why you have spoken so consistently of the need to replace fear with hope, and why --during this transition period-- you've focused on the work of reconciliation. You understand the necessity for the spirit of America to be transformed in order to make possible all the other changes, in the political sphere, you will be striving to achieve.
People recognize that your victory represents a victory of light over darkness.
That's why the night you won the election, an extraordinary celebratory energy burst forth in this country and, indeed, around the world. In the hearts and minds of many millions of people, your victory went beyond the level of politics. Never before has the election of an American president been greeted with this kind of joy, and that's because never before has a presidential election had such important stakes at the spiritual level.
That joyful upsurgence in the hearts of so many millions of people represented a recognition of that spiritual victory, the night you won the election, the release of a spiritual force, long pent up, the recognition that the hope you offer had dispelled the despair and dread brought over our spirits by your predecessor.
I hope you understand how important it can be, for your ultimate success, to tend to that spiritual force. I hope you will regularly blow on the embers of that fire that your victory ignited.
The proper tending of that fire, in my view, would involve NOT WAITING UNTIL THE INAUGURATION to blow on those embers again. People are imperfect vessels for holding onto what has been ignited in their spirits, and much can be lost with the passage of time.
I've worked my whole life on learning how to hold onto the fire, and I myself have felt too long has gone by since you last showed me your spirit (briefly at your news conference three days after the election). It is not enough just to see signs of your political preparations: I want regular contact with Barack Obama, the man of hope and vision, to remind me --THROUGH THE IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE OF YOUR MOVING MY SPIRIT-- of why your victory so well warranted the releasing of our jubilant spirits on election night.
And if I have missed you, I expect there are many millions whose kindled spirits have subsided more.
I realize that there are only so many occasions --accepting the nomination, winning the election, etc.-- where you have an opportunity to open up all the stops and use your rhetoric to touch the spirit and thereby to MOVE people. And I realize that as president-in-waiting, there is a limit to what you can do that is appropriate while you are in limbo, and your predecessor remains the one president at a time that this country has.
But these limitations can be overcome. Specifically, I can envision an opportunity, that presumably lies immediately ahead, for you to keep the fires stoked in way that's completely appropriate and that will help set the scene for your coming presidency and help clear the path for its success.
In the next installment, I will describe what I think you can do. Part II of this letter will be entitled: "Using Cabinet Announcements as a Vehicle for Putting Forth Your Vision for America."