Grassroots Commentary

An Open Letter to Mitt Romney

By Mark W. Hendrickson · Nov. 9, 2012

Editor's note: A version of this piece first appeared at USAToday.com.

Dear Mitt,

I have awakened on November 7 to learn that your bid for the presidency was unsuccessful. In the midst of the disappointment that I share with you, I want to thank you for devoting years of your life to the wearisome task of running for president. Millions of Americans are grateful to you.

You have been one of my heroes for the past 48 years. I still recall vividly the valiant cross country race you ran at our Cranbrook Homecoming in October of 1964 – a race when you willed yourself to run faster than you ever had until, near the end, oxygen starvation set in, causing you first to stagger, then to collapse just 30 yards from the finish line. I can still see your face, ashen and contorted in pain, as you ignored the torture of the cinders on the track scraping against soft skin and began to crawl. Even though every other runner passed you, and you had nothing to gain – other than surcease of agony – from dragging yourself to the finish line, you refused to quit until you reached your goal. Your brave effort touched me deeply. That's when I learned that you were special – a man of character, commitment, heart and guts, someone who embodied the indomitable American spirit.

I also admired your exuberant joie de vivre. You loved life, and I can see that your great capacity for love found abundantly happy fulfillment in your life with your wife and sons. I also remember your friendship with Chester, our night watchman at Cranbrook. At prep school, there can be a tendency to disregard the support staff, to take them for granted like the furniture, but you reached out to that good, simple, kind, salt-of-the-earth security guard. (Just for the record, I befriended Chester, too, during my senior year, so I feel we share that bond.)

Nobody can doubt your love for our country. Whereas your opponent concentrated on lining up support from key special interest groups, your focus was more akin to the patriotic statesman than the opportunistic politician – it was so clear that you wanted to get our country back on track. As we can now see, that wasn't to be.

What occurs to me is that, by losing the election, you might have been spared a cruel fate. If elected, you would have inherited an economic mess. The problem isn't just the looming fiscal cliff and debt ceiling, but the overall financial situation of our government is clearly unsustainable and nonviable. Entitlement spending has mushroomed so that it – combined with interest on the national debt – now consumes virtually every dollar of tax revenue. That means that the various departments and agencies that we normally think of as “the federal government,” from the Pentagon through the EPA and everything in between, is being run on borrowed (or “quantitatively eased”) dollars. No president could trim entitlement spending or shut down enough of the government to stanch the flood of red ink. Government indebtedness will continue to balloon and our currency will continue to be debauched, and it would have been impossible for you, given the prevalent attitudes of the people, to halt that insidious process. You might have tried by firing Ben Bernanke and replacing him with someone who would stop quantitative easing, but that would have caused interest rates to rise and the federal government to become insolvent, triggering a crisis that would have made you a vilified president.

The presidency at this juncture in history strikes me as an impossible job. Both domestic and foreign policy seem to be Gordian knots that no mere mortal can cut. I know, though, that you would have valiantly been willing to give your all in the attempt to help your country at this difficult time. Your path as president would have been as excruciating as those last 30 yards of that cross country race you ran so long ago, but you would have addressed the challenge with the same determination and commitment as you did then. Now those awful burdens you would have been willing to shoulder fall on your opponent, and we'll see what kind of shoulders he has.

You gave years of your life for the chance to be of service to your country, Mitt, and you lived by our school motto, “Aim High.” You did us proud.

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

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20 Comments

Kevin A McClaran in Shreveport LA. said:

n/a

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Linda Di Ianni in Massachusetts said:

EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS OPEN LETTER TO MITT ROMNEY.

He did well. he should hold his head high because he didn't sink to bad tactics like his opponent Obama.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Diane Gospdnetich in Silverpeak, Nevada 89047 said:

Diane,
This open letter to Mitt is absolutely Beautiful
Barb

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Karen Case in Maggie Valley, NC 28751 said:

I absolutely concur with Mark Hendrickson's sentiments . . . Mr. Romney I am so proud to call you my fellow American! You rose above the hate and rhetoric and indeed your love of Country did so shine!! My sadness is that our Country has changed and the majority of its citizens don't seem to understand what is at stake. You may never be President, but you will always be known for your Patriotism and willingness to Serve! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Shirley in Brown said:

I just want to thak you for trying to help our country, at this time this would of been hard and very hard on you, so be proud as we are of youfor trying to help us as a nation, I thank My heavenly Father every day for men like you and your father he was a good man also, I Thank You again and may God Bless you always.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Deborah Soiett in Vidor, Texas said:

I agree with your comments about Mitt Romney. I was greatly inspired by his speeches and am sad for our country that he did not win the election. I pray for him and his family and thank them for their sacrifices. May God bless and keep them safe.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Carolyn in Virginia said:

I am so sorry the rest of the nation did not see Mitt for the American Patriot he is. I know we would have at least had a fighting chance with him as our president.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Charlene Schoen in Bellevue said:

I truly admire you for who you are and what you have done, and, what you wanted to do if you were to be our President. You had an agenda and a plan, and I cry now for all those babies who will continue to be slaughtered in the womb, and God's morals that have gone by the wayside. However, now, we need to ban together and work hard, pray hard to uphold God's morals, and hope many will take notice that the way it has been going, isn't working!! We love you and wish you and your beautiful family nothing but the very best!! Thank you for all your efforts and hard work in this campaign!!!! I wish you were our president!!

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Julia Wilcox in Manchester Kentucky said:

Dear Mitt, I appreciate your trying to help us, but maybe it is, a blessing, that you were not elected. Because apparently, the majority of America isn't ready for you....... yet!!! It's definitely their loss, AND, the rest of us!! God bless you Mitt!!

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Steve Winters in Olympia, WA said:

Great letter and I couldn't agree more. I'm saddened that he said he wouldn't run again, though I can't blame him. Hopefully he'll get involved again right away - after a well deserved break.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Shirley Buxton in Crestline, California said:

Although I have not had the privilege of knowing Governor Mitt Romney, I highly respect him and am heartbroken over the results of the election. I have written my sentiments on my blog here: http://writenow.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/open-letter-to-governor-mitt-romney/

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 5:58 PM

leni olsen in victor idaho said:

what a great guy!

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Shirley in Arabi, Georgia said:

Heartbroken and sucker punched would be a good description of how I feel about this election. Hope went out the window that day. I cried like a baby and am still in shock. I guess I thought people wouldn't be so naive as to vote for Obama again. I was wrong. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work and love of country. I feel as if we were cheated of a great leader. You blessed us with your patriotism and you were always a gentleman and didn't lower your standards. You are an honorable man and you fought the good race. God bless you and your family and I wish you all the very best.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 7:36 AM

Virginia in Mesa, AZ replied:

Shirley, I agree with your comments about Mitt Romney. hearing him speak was like a breath of springtime. I loved his smiling eyes, felt the optimism, happiness and hope he radiated and encouraged in each of us..
God Bless Mitt and his marvelous family with peace & calm.
"Please Heavenly Father, whisper our thanks to Mitt, convey to him, how much we all appreciate his love and devotion to God, Family and his country......

Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 12:06 AM

JohnBrillman in Aurora, IL said:

Dear Governor Romney,
God bless you and your family and thank you for your valiant attempt. At this point in history this country doesn't deserve a patriot like yourself.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Mega in Llano, Texas said:

Mark, you are right, I fear. The time is yet to be ripe for a change of direction. Bankruptcy will be necessary before the world will take away our credit cards. I regret only the sorrow and pain that will come before....particularly the young that will pay the greatest price for something they did not do.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 3:52 PM