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Day 66 – People Don’t Tend to Want to Keep Rats Around, Mr. President.

Day 66 – People Don’t Tend to Want to Keep Rats Around, Mr. President.

Photograph by Matthew Roth of art by Banksy

Dear Mr. President,

Every president over time, act by act, begins to build his reputation and his legacy; history judges every president by both.  Even though it has not yet been 70 days since you took office, it is not too soon for you to consider what kind of legacy you will leave as the 45th President of the United States.  First impressions are hard to shake, and many people have already begun to form their first impressions of you.  Unfortunately, the impressions are mostly negative, and worse, they are the kinds of impressions that will be very difficult to change.

I read somewhere that your father instilled in you the importance of winning.  I don’t know how you understand the term.  But certainly winning does not mean blaming others when things don’t go your way (for example, blaming the congressional Democrats for not helping to pass your health care bill when the Republicans hold a 44 seat majority and should have been able to do it without help; it does not mean accusing your predecessor of wiretapping; it does not mean disrespecting the judicial branch – or your nominee for the Supreme Court; it does not mean finger pointing; nor does it mean always  having to get the last word (or Tweet).  But your understanding of winning thus far has involved all of those tactics. And those tactics are building your legacy.

Back to those first impressions: so far, you’re being labeled a liar for falsely accusing former President Obama of wiretapping; you’ve been labeled insensitive (and worse) for your proposal of the immigration ban; you’ve been called incompetent for your rush to present a health plan that had a 17% approval rating and lazy for not knowing what was in the bill; people have the impression that you are a very petty man for not shaking hands with German Chancellor Merkel; and people are saying you’re not a leader but a person who refuses to take responsibility and points fingers at others (first, amazingly, at the democrats, then Speaker Ryan, then the Freedom Caucus).

First impressions are difficult to shake.  Is there enough time left to change?  There may well be if you are willing to admit to yourself that you need to change.  What would be required of you?  You would need to begin to tell the truth, to show some discipline, to admit to failure, to rein in that sophomoric impulse to Tweet, to treat the office of President with respect, and to treat all others with respect and dignity.  It seems none of those things come easily to you. But if you do not change, your reputation as our 45th President will be as a shallow, vindictive incompetent person.  Your legacy will be that of an interesting candidate who promised much but a president who delivered nothing of consequence.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

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Day 65 – How Did You Like Civics 101, Mr. President?

Day 65 – How Did You Like Civics 101, Mr. President?

Photograph by astoller

Dear Mr. President,

Yesterday the Republicans, despite controlling the House and Senate and Executive branch, withdrew the bill aiming to replace “Obamacare.” This is huge and wonderful for millions of people and a real tangible setback for Speaker Ryan and, to be frank, you.  While you have not been stacking up wins lately, this is most certainly your most public loss.

I am not writing to gloat. That benefits no one.  I am not here to label you. Again, meaningless.  I am writing you to address learning.

Experience is the best teacher.  I think you just learned about how democracy really works just now.  Mr. President, you just took an entire civics class in one three-day span. This is how a Republic functions: it works for the people.

It is easy to be a dealmaker when what is on the table is money or deeds or contracts or real estate.  That’s just stuff, and though many in your circle think these are valuable, the truth is they aren’t.

Human lives.  The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those are the things that matter. Those are the truly valuable assets in America.  And they are so much harder to attain if you are crippled by debt from medical bills or just plain crippled.  Empathy, compassion, sacrifice for the greater good…those are the things that make this country great.

Now you know. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.  Don’t bring a spreadsheet and a 1% tax cut to a VA hospital, or a retirees’ prescription account or a woman’s right to be treated equally.  Please apply this new learning to do better for and right by the people of this country, to serve the republic, to forward democracy.

Otherwise the big fat “F” you just earned in civics will be for nothing.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 64 Second Letter – Not Today, Mr. President.

Day 64 Second Letter – Not Today, Mr. President.

Image by Bamblesquatch

Dear Mr. President,

Today was a big day for you, your agenda and for millions of Americans. It didn’t go quite as you planned, but I doubt this will be the last we hear from you on the Affordable Care Act. The Act originated out of the need to lift up and support Americans, especially those who need that safety net.  You can deny that the Affordable Care Act sprung from Republican ideas, specifically the Heritage Foundation report from 1989.  But you can’t deny that since the Affordable Care Act has been in place, the number of people with health insurance coverage has increased.  You can also claim that the Affordable Care Act has depressed employment, particularly part-time employment, but that has turned out not to be the case. An analysis in 2015 by the Urban Institute found that the health law “had virtually no adverse effect on labor force participation; employment; the probability of part-time work; and hours worked per week by non-elderly adults.”

A few weeks ago, you said, “It’s an unbelievably complex subject, nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”  To be fair, average Americans might not fully understand how complicated health care policy is, but thousands of experts and literally anyone who has ever worked on health care policy at the state or federal level could have told you that.

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but that doesn’t mean the entire thing needs to be scrapped.  Instead, you can help fix the parts that are not working and improve upon things that are.  Make your legacy about providing Americans great services and opportunities, not trying to erase your predecessor’s legacy.

You ran your campaign on a platform of making America great, getting things done and taking care of those people who feel they have been left behind.  You can accomplish all of those things by moving carefully, collaboratively and thoughtfully on healthcare.  There is no place for bullying or strong-arming Congress to push through legislation that the American people do not want.  Listen to Americans. Yesterday, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that American voters disapprove 56 – 17 percent, with 26 percent undecided, of the Republican health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and support among Republicans was a lackluster 41 – 24 percent.  Encourage expert opinions, make fixes and tweaks that serve to help the people, not industries.  The Congressional Budget Office has shown that through your plan, the number of uninsured will double and older, poorer Americans will suffer the most. That is not fulfilling your promise.

You view it as weakness to pause, listen and act more slowly, deliberately and thoughtfully.  Let me tell you that it is actually a sign of strength.  You want a legacy.  You want ratings.  You will get those if you do right by the American people and not by super PACs, lobbyists and big business. Please don’t go just for a “win” for you, but think about a “win” for the American people.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

 

Day 64 – Why You are Not a Good Christian, Mr. President.

Day 64 – Why You are Not a Good Christian, Mr. President.

Photograph by Olga Caprotti

Dear Mr. President,

I thought that Republicans in particular believe that this great country was founded on Christian values.  Indeed many Republicans profess to be Christian — one who comes to mind is Vice President Pence given his remarks during the 2016 vice presidential debates. That said, I am very puzzled by these claims in light of the policies, executive orders, and congressional actions that have transpired since the 2017 inauguration of the Trump administration.

I’ve been reading the Bible to understand the contradictions between Christianity and the policies, executive orders, rules repeals, and legislation being considered since January 20.  How do things like the immigration ban, repeal of the rules, and threats to the health and welfare of working Americans mesh with Christianity?

The following verses from Matthew 25:  31 – 46 seem to sum up what it means to be a Christian, or not.  For your reference, the verses are:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’”

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’”

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’”

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

To me, verses 31-40 describe Christian actions and values, and verses 41- 46 do not.  Your policies and actions do not seem consistent with Christian values or values of human decency.  Please enlighten me as to where I am wrong, or am I?

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 63 – Privilege Speaks Louder Than Hard Work.

Day 63 – Privilege Speaks Louder Than Hard Work.

Image by Abuellaloca

Dear Mr. President (and Ivanka),

I hear your daughter is getting an office in the White House. Wow! finally, a woman in White House under the Trump presidency, just not quite how I imagined it. A lot about this new move of yours makes me very unsettled, to say the least. But seeing as you have simply ignored the many, many Americans who disagree with you, I am directing this letter to Ivanka in addition to you in hopes of perhaps reaching her in ways we have not been able to reach you. She is touted as being your most trusted advisor after all.

Ivanka, in your book, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work, you talk a lot about the many disadvantages of being born rich and privileged. In fact, based on your own account, enormous privilege carries quite a burden, a burden you feel few could handle. In addition, during your father’s presidential campaign you worked very hard to convince the American public, and especially women, that your success is not a product of your privilege, but instead, more a product of your hard work, perseverance, and most importantly, your smarts. No doubt, you are smart. You know very well that in only downplaying and hopefully making your privilege ‘seem’ insignificant that you have a chance at accessing the support and admiration of women like me.

But, not all of us fall blind to your more superficial attributes, like your mainstream good looks or your seemingly calm, controlled and carefully crafted words. Not all of us fawn over your ideas disguised as wisdom or for your carefully-chosen, non-bristly politics. To us women who also feel we have worked hard in our careers, and have persevered and have smarts, your new “rise” to the White House is like a slap in the face. Recently, Kate Andersen Brower, author of First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies described you this way: “We’re fascinated because she’s beautiful, well-spoken, calm, almost steely, so collected and so opposite to her father. She’s the most prominent woman in this (incoming) administration next to Kellyanne Conway, one of the few women in the Trump orbit.”  Amazing, what power! Yet, just a few months back when asked what role you would play in the new administration, you answered that you’d only be a daughter; seems like you’ve had a change of heart. For women like me, who measure one’s worth more by their actions and less by their words, for us who choose not to use our femininity or privilege as an entry point to power, the irony is very obvious.

It’s not enough to safely stand in the middle and play both sides of the field. You benefit from your privilege, yet you feel you have just the right mix of experience and wisdom to counsel women on how to reach success in their own career. Perhaps you could have gone about winning the hearts of women like me in another way. Surely you know the story of Gautama Buddha (The Buddha), born into privilege and only when one day he walks outside the walls of his home does he see sickness, poverty and death. In short, Gautama Buddha abandons all privilege to help people reach enlightenment. Obviously, I am not suggesting you walk away from your privilege. Yet, you can’t say your privilege plays no part in your success then turn around and take a position which yields great power primarily thanks to privilege. What is most incongruent is that you also write advice books for women about how they too could reach the top. Something about this seems off, illegitimate, and even dishonest.  You have every right to embrace your privilege, you also have a right to write books directed at women on how to reach the top, but in my world doing both is called hypocrisy, the two realities do not go together. In embracing privilege as you have done this week you only distance yourself further and further from women like me.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

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