An open letter to the president-elect

Dear President-elect Trump,

I am writing this to congratulate you on your election.  I did not vote for you, was never remotely interested in anything you have to offer, and was deeply offended and repulsed by your remarks on the campaign trail.  Your policy offerings did little to reassure me America would be a fairer more just country. Your vision of America as a dark hellhole on the verge of economic, political and moral collapse is not one I share. In short, your candidacy showed me nothing that I could support, and I made that clear with my vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

Though they have my empathy, I did not choose to march with thousands of citizens in my home town of Seattle.  Their  loudest chant was “Not my President.” While I am sorry you won, I cannot go there with them. I believe the American people have spoken, and though the electoral college is quirky, you were legitimately elected president. That makes you my president, and that makes you president for every American. I believe, as President Obama and Secretary Clinton both said, that citizens should have an open mind, and you deserve the opportunity to succeed, because if your presidency is successful the country will be successful.

But that does not mean I endorse values or public statements that promote division and hatred toward groups of Americans or smack of vindictive behavior toward those who didn’t support you. Let me give you some examples

  1. Appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Secretary Clinton’s e-mails or the Clinton Foundation. The election is over.  The United States does not behave like a banana republic that seeks vengeance against political rivals or former office holders. Though there were ample grounds, President Obama did not investigate the behavior of the Bush team pushing the country to war in Iraq, use of torture or committing war crimes. The country needs to move on. Please allow it to do so. Choose not to, and you lose me.
  2. Taking a state’s rights approach to abortion rights or LGNTQ rights. These are not state’s rights matters.  These are settled law. Roe v. Wade enshrined abortion in the right to privacy 45 years ago. If anti-abortion men and women wish to abstain from abortion that is their choice, but it is not okay to tell women and families they may not exercise their constitutional rights to an abortion whether it is Alabama or California. The Supreme Court upheld the right of Americans to marry the person they love, protected under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Not just in Washington or Massachusetts, but in Mississippi and Kansas too. Either citizens have rights or they don’t. Further dividing the country into pockets of states with rights and states without isn’t the vision of unity you identified in your victory speech.
  3. No deportation of Mexican and Central American immigrants. Like your family, mine was one of immigrants.  My grandparents came from the U.K. in 1920.   My great grandparents came from Austria in 1900. They spoke no English and met on the ship during their crossing. Times were different then. The Golden Door was wide open, though it would not remain so long. I am a high school teacher.  I work with Latino students, most of them hard-working, from hard-working families struggling to achieve the American Dream. Many of them live in fear of a Trump presidency, what it may mean to them, their parents, or other family members. I implore you to do the right thing and think in more than slogans to resolve this issue without resorting to drastic measures that will rip families apart, deprive the country of a valuable work force and further divide the nation. A Donald Trump who can provide a tough but fair path to citizenship will win the votes of the Hispanic community for the GOP for generations.
  4. Your campaign slogan was to repeal and replace Obamacare. I understand that elections have consequences, and that there will be plenty of avenues open to ending the ACA.  But do not cut it without a plan. You promised a much better plan and I will be waiting to see that it is a plan that is affordable and accessible to all. I have a son on Obamacare.  He is hard working, receives no subsidy, and has seen his rates go up this year.  But if the cost of replacing this program is to price him out of the market with promise of a tax deduction then you do not live in the real world, and I suspect many of your supporters will feel the same.
  5. My mother used to threaten to wash out my mouth with soap, yet I’ve heard you say things to crowds and in televised debate, that would make my high school locker room buddies blush. You no longer are Donald J. Trump citizen, or regular billionaire dude who happened to run for president. You represent this country for every one of us, from Bill Gates to the poor homeless guy on the D.C. streets. That includes me. You are my face to my Canadian friends and my Dutch relatives. What you say in public will not be neatly filed away in Howard Stern’s archives.  No divisive language-no anti-Muslim, misogynistic, racist thoughtless Twitter rants.  This country needs leaders to put its broken pieces back together again. Your campaign pronouncements cannot simply be wished away, and there is no getting around that many Americans do not and never will trust you. The damage is done.
  6. You ran on “drain the swamp,” as one of your campaign slogans-chanted by crowds at you rallies.  You even offered a strict set of proposed ethics reforms that were remarkable and well received by critics right and left. If you can stick to them and fight to get them through Congress in a highly public debate, the country will be indebted to you.  These first few days of the transition, however, don’t look promising as wealthy donors are solicited for transition costs and your transition team is flooded with corporate interests and K-street lobbyists. You called for change in the Revolving Door; stick to it or those folks who came out to rallies will see the new boss is simply the same as the old boss. You are uniquely positioned as a businessman and a president to festoon yourself with ethical mousetraps at every turn. How you confront them-with opacity and secrecy, or transparency and openness-will quickly garner the trust or just as quickly repel citizens.  You could begin by releasing your tax returns, and putting your financial affairs in a blind trust.  Just a suggestion.  It might keep the press from digging so fervently in your trash.

These are lines in the sand for me. I don’t know that you will ever earn my vote.  Just on policies you’ve advanced in the campaign, we are vastly different. But that’s just politics. I can respect a man and a president who is actively working for the good of the country and each of its inhabitants. I had this experience with President Reagan, a man whose candidacy I could not support, but have come to admire. But you will lose that respect quickly if you do not respect the value of every American and what they contribute to this country.

 

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