A Letter to President-elect Trump

11 Nov

November 11, 2016

Dear President-elect Trump,

On Wednesday, for the first time since you declared your candidacy, you said you would be a president for all Americans. As someone who did not support you, and who lamented the tenor of your campaign, I fervently want to believe you. But, in the wake of your election so much violence and hate has already been directed at people of color, immigrants, gays—my neighbors, friends and loved ones. The perpetrators are committing these acts in your name, stating that they feel justified in tormenting their fellow Americans because you were elected.

Your candidacy proved that words have power. The power to get you elected, to be sure. More importantly, your words have power. They have the power to incite violence—even if that was not your intent. And we have to hope that they have the power to heal.

If you truly want to be a president for all Americans, to begin a period of post-election healing and work toward the peaceful transition of power that is the hallmark of our democratic experiment, then use your words now. Come out of your tower and address the people, your people. Lead them by publicly denouncing and condemning the violence that is being done in your name. Speak to Americans who are afraid of your policies and tell them that you do not support acts and words of hate. That you will lead by respecting our rule of law and our culture of civility.

And then, consider appointing a cabinet that looks like America—all the colors of the human rainbow, all the genders of the human being.

This country was founded so that all who live here can pursue life, liberty and happiness. Our constitution, which you will shortly swear to defend, guarantees all Americans equality and these inalienable rights. We have sealed this guarantee for more the 200 years with the peaceful transfer of power. We have been a beacon of hope and an example of democracy, learning from our mistakes and revising our laws to be ever more inclusive along the way.

I am a proud American. My grandmother’s family fled pogroms in Russia to find refuge in the promise of the United States. My great-great uncle lied about his age to become the oldest officer to serve in the Army during WWII, surviving the Bataan death march and the war in his defense of democracy. My husband became a naturalized citizen a few years ago because he, like I, believes it is our responsibility to vote.

On Tuesday I cast my eighth vote for president. I did not vote for you. On Wednesday morning I woke up to find that you would be our president. And now, I must trust in your leadership. I must believe that as a father you do not want your young son to believe that “Trump’s America” is one filled with hatred and vitriol. That you want your legacy to be an America that is greater for all of us.

As I’m sure you know, many of your citizens are lamenting your election. They are protesting, mostly peacefully; they are posting on social media; and they are planning on working for their values and ideals. They need to see that you have put the election behind you and will now work for the good and welfare of all Americans, regardless of their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, national origin or political leanings.

Please, Mr. President-elect, use your words to heal. Use your words to show America that we can be greater than the rhetoric of this election. Use your words to mend fences and help us treat our neighbors as we would be treated ourselves.

Respectfully,

Ilene S. Goldman

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