Dear President-Elect Trump,
When I was a kid, in the ’80s, I remember there being a lot of news coverage of your bankruptcy. You were a sort of mythical figure, a symbol of wealth, excess, of gold-trimmed hotel bars and blond-trimmed buxom wives. People admired your riches, your success, your hotels.
Growing up in Poughkeepsie, I often visited New York City. My aunt lived in Yonkers and she worked in Manhattan so was familiar and in love with the city. When I visited her, she took me to see Broadway shows, to fancy restaurants (once she took me to Sardi’s and another time the Russian Tearoom). Once she even took me to your hotel. We walked through the lobby, went up the escalator, looked around in awe of the glowing magnificence of wealth that I already knew probably would never be accessible to me. I was impressed by it. To myself, and perhaps even out loud, I thought, “This Donald Trump must be one smart, sophisticated person to have all this.”
When you went bankrupt in the ’80s, my parents felt sad for you. It seemed like a big deal, and a lot of people, working-class people who earned yearly a fraction of what you probably routinely spent on vacations, sympathized with your losses, your seeming failure. People collectively hoped that you would recover from it. Which, of course, you clearly did.
I’m not gonna lie. The night of the election, as the numbers came in, as it became clearer and clearer that you were the victor, I was fearful and, indeed, rather upset. “How could it be?” I said to no one. I just didn’t understand how someone who probably ran as a sort of ruse, a mere attempt to make money for his brand, could actually be elected. Weren’t you surprised? Did you even want to be president? Even back then, you must have had some understanding of how much work it is, how committed you must be to the job, how much you must sacrifice, how thankless a job it is. Did you? I suppose only you and your closest confidants know the answer, and it doesn’t truly matter now, does it. Because here we are. Tomorrow’s your inauguration, and this is real. You are going to be President of the United States for (at least) the next four years.
Politically, you and I don’t agree. I think that’s clear. I supported Obama. I think he was a great president, in fact, and will go down in the history books as such. I voted for Hillary. I thought Bernie was a good candidate, though I don’t think Americans were ready for a democratic socialist in the White House yet. (Perhaps after your presidency, they finally will be.)
Obama achieved a great deal by balancing what was best for Americans at large with what he realistically was able to accomplish given the reality of our political environment. He was an effective president, and he is an empathetic and sincere person who, despite being a politician, truly cares about helping people who need it and making life in this country as comfortable for working-class Americans as possible. He wasn’t perfect. Our country still has a lot of problems (poverty, inequality, etc.). But he did a lot for the little people. Few can deny that.
I’m not going to use this space to address individual political issues. You are going to be president, and you (and your team) will be making decisions on a daily basis that most citizens never will be able to keep up with at a minute level. Instead, I want to use this space to address the big picture, to appeal to your humanity.
You probably don’t have great respect for my opinions. Not only am I a lowly woman, but I’m a rather outspoken lowly woman. I’m also liberal and I abhor the ideology on which you ran your campaign. There are few points on which you and I would agree, or on which we would care to listen to the other. But here’s the thing: I am a citizen of the United States, as are you, and you are going to be my president. My opinion matters, whether you like it or not. You have to listen to all of us, not just the ones who voted for you. That’s how our democracy works.
This country thrives when we think in the long-term, when those in power show some mercy to those at the bottom. When people in charge of the government don’t just stuff their pockets with money from big business at the expense of the little people who are losing their homes, losing their health insurance, indeed their health, their cars, their security, their hope, their dignity. Those of you in power have to sacrifice the abundant rewards available to you in order to care for the little people you serve. That is a crucial piece of this most important position you have won.
The little people are the ones who elected you. It’s your duty to care for them, to nurture them, to offer them security, real security. Because the problem is, if you forget what the little people have given you–this most distinguished job–they will see, and they will rise up. You are not a one-person or fifty-person totalitarian governing force. We, Americans, are the governing force, and you work for all of us. You are our employee. And if you nurture us, care for us, you will be a successful president.
Despite how unpopular you appear to be, despite how vehemently some oppose you, no one truly wants you to fail. We are all dependent on the United States of America thriving, but the current problem is that most of us simply don’t have faith in you. And it’s on you to show us that we should have faith in you. It’s not on us to put aside all of our fears and trust that you’ll take care of us. I repeat, it’s on you. To prove it.
Congratulations on your win, President Trump. I want to have faith in you, but sadly, I do not. I want to trust you to protect American citizens and to give us a sense of security and to help America thrive. But I do not. Will you show me? Will you show all of us? We’re waiting, sir. Mr. President. America is waiting.