November 25, 2021

I started these letters completely inadvertently on September 15, 2019, after I happened to see House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff's (D-CA) angry letter to then–acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on September 13, noting that the committee knew a whistleblower had made a complaint and demanding that Maguire produce that complaint as required by law. As a political historian, I saw that for what it was: an accusation from a member of the legislative branch that someone in the executive branch had very clearly broken a specific law. That was huge, way different than the general complaints around at the time that, for example, then-president Trump must be violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, an accusation that was vague enough that it was terribly hard to address.

Two days later, on September 15, a yellow jacket sting made me cancel my afternoon plans, and as I sat waiting to make sure I didn’t react badly to the sting, I used the time to write on my Facebook page where I had been posting once a week or so for years. I wrote about the history of the previous month and mentioned the issue of the missing whistleblower’s complaint. That post got swamped with people asking so many questions that I wrote another, and then another.

And so the Letters from an American were born.

Over the past two years, this has become a team project. While I do the legwork of explaining the politics of these crisis times, my heroic editors keep my writing clean and factual.

But this project really belongs to you who read it. It was your voice that created the project, you who inspire me when I am so dead tired I fall asleep sitting up, and you who bring in related material and ask questions and correct my stupid errors. Above all, it is you who are helping to model what we so desperately need in America: a respectful community based in facts, rather than in anger and partisanship, a community that can defend our democracy and carry it into a new era.

I am honored to be walking this road alongside all of you. You are smart, funny, kind, talented, insightful, creative, and principled.

And I am so very proud of what we are building together.

Thank you, for all of it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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