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Thursday, November 10, 2016

An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump

Thursday,  November 10, 2016

Dear Mr. Trump:
 I am one of the 60,122,876 people who didn’t vote for you on Tuesday. I didn’t vote for you because as far as I can tell you have neither the experience, knowledge nor temperament to be President.Furthermore, you seem to have only a tenuous grasp on reality and an inability to tell the truth. But most of all, I didn’t vote for you because you have, with your belligerent, bullying, demeaning rhetoric, fanned the flames of hate and anger in many of your supporters, legitimizing their racist, misogynist, hateful attitudes toward  women, blacks,  Latinos,  other ethnic minorities,  Muslims,  people in the  LGBT community, people with disabilities and  many others.  Just this week,  two of my friends and neighbors have been accosted and traumatized by  people whose hate and anger you have legitimized.

Maybe you didn’t see this coming, but a lot of us did, and it terrified us. It still terrifies us. You say you want to be the President of all the people, but how can that be when you have in effect told your followers that it’s all right to attack and accost those you have targeted in your speeches? How can that be when you have bragged about how smart you are for not paying the taxes that support our schools, our libraries, our hospitals, our  police, our military, our veterans, taxes that guarantee that we have safe food to eat, clean air to breathe and water to drink, that our roads are built and kept in repair, that provide a safety net for those who  fall through the cracks, for the  elderly, for people with disabilities, for the working poor who often work two jobs and still have trouble keeping  their children clothed and fed? Which leads me to question how you  can be pro-life, yet talk about cutting back or taking away services and programs that help to sustain and improve life for those already born? You say you want to make America great again, but how can you do that when you have encouraged your followers to turn on their fellow citizens much as the KKK turned on blacks and Jews and Catholics, when hangings and cross burnings were common during some of the darker, not so great periods of our recent history? And now you have the endorsement of the KKK and some of its leaders, who now feel so emboldened that they are distributing flyers in neighborhoods close to me.

You said that you will bring back jobs and industries that once thrived but are now shuttered, the jobs shipped out of the country. Mr. Trump, a lot of those jobs aren’t coming back, they’re finished. But we do need to encourage innovation for new products, particularly in areas of green energy so we can build up supply chains with skilled jobs that pay well.  We need to support labor unions with their training and apprentice programs to provide a well-paid, skilled workforce. We need to replace the coal and retrain miners for these new jobs so that they can become productive, able to support their families and  be proud of the work they do.  But of course, you believe climate change is a Chinese hoax, don’t you, so no green energy jobs, I guess.  We need to support companies that pledge to  keep jobs here and invest in their workers rather than outsourcing or shipping their operations  abroad, while avoiding paying their share of taxes. We need to find a way to encourage small businesses, and to support American farmers and manufacturers through effective, efficient and fair trade policies and tariffs  that benefit us and our trading partners.

We need to strengthen our ties with our allies, not threaten to abandon them by withdrawing from NATO, and we need to stand up to Russia’s threat of aggression in the Baltic states, not check our balance sheets to determine whether they“have fulfilled their obligations to us.”  That’s kind of rich coming from someone who doesn’t even pay his federal taxes. No, Mr. Trump, I don’t have much confidence in your abilities, nor in your program and policy proposals, and even less in the people you  are reported to be  looking to  appoint  to Cabinet positions.

I would love to be proven wrong, that the great plans, the best plans that you refer to, whatever they are, actually will work well for the nation as a whole. But I would remind you that while you may have won a stunning victory in garnering the most Electoral College votes, you did not win a mandate from the people.  Your opponent actually won the popular vote by roughly 300,000 votes at last count.  Those of us who voted for Sec. Clinton are watching you, and we will let you know how we think you’re doing. Meanwhile I suggest that you make some attempt to rein in your supporters, whose sparks of anger and fear and hate have been fanned into  a raging fire that, if not checked, will burn this nation to such a degree that we will not be able to recover for perhaps generations.  I don’t think you, or any of us, want that.

Grace K. B. Smith