A letter from former US President George H.W. Bush welcoming Bill Clinton to the White House in January 1993 has gone viral after Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton posted it on Instagram:
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting for you.
Reading this note makes one wonder what sort of systemic failure has brought the American system down to the poor political confrontation of today. On Sunday, Donald Trump prowled the presidential debate stage threatening to jail his opponent, who he called “the devil.” The Republican candidate also questioned whether he will recognize the election result – a threat unheard of in a mature Western democracy.
Greece is no stranger to what the US is experiencing today: the unbridgeable gap between the elite and mainstream society, the extremist voices that find expression on social media, the spread of conspiracy theories and the questioning of “systemic” media, the unchecked polarization.
Political extremism is not unique to Greece anymore. As a result, I find it hard to answer another question that came to mind as I was reading George H.W. Bush’s note to Bill Clinton. Will we ever have the privilege of seeing an outgoing leader leave a similar letter on his desk as he steps down?