Photograph by Rob Stites
Dear Mr. President,
I’ve got to give you credit: you’re actually doing what you said you would.
At first, I thought you might not. On December 1, 2016, when you were reminded of your promises to the workers at the Carrier plant in Indiana, you said, “I’ll never forget, about a week ago I was watching the nightly news, and they were doing a story on Carrier. And they had a gentleman, a worker, great guy, handsome guy, and it was like he didn’t even know they were leaving. He said something to the effect, ‘No, we’re not leaving because Donald Trump promised us that we’re not leaving.’ And I never thought I made that promise. And then they played my statement, and I said, ‘Carrier will never leave,’ but that was a euphemism.”
Then, when you came to my city of Grand Rapids, Michigan on December 9, 2016, your response to those who wanted you to lock Hilary Clinton up was, “That plays great before the election – now we don’t care, right?”
But you did cut a deal with Carrier, and you’ve been making plans for a wall, shutting down immigration and refugees, installing cabinet secretaries who have contempt for the departments they’re overseeing, and creating a hostile environment for Muslims trying to enter the United States. You’re doing what you said you would. I wish you were doing none of them, but I have to give you credit for being a man of your word.
So I’d like to remind you of something else you said on the campaign trail, in hopes that you’ll follow through on it.
On September 14, 2016, you came to Flint, Michigan, and you said this: “We will get it fixed and it will be fixed and effectively and Flint will come back. Most importantly, we’ll bring jobs back.” Later, at a rally in Canton, Ohio, you said, “I’m running to bring hope to Flint.”
Well, Flint still needs hope.
This week, the state announced that, because 96 percent of the water tested was within federal guidelines for lead (when tested with water filters in place), they would no longer provide subsidies for residents’ water bills—water that still doesn’t seem like a safe bet. Residents still have to use filters to make their water even 96% safe. They have been warned that underground construction work has the potential to shake loose or stir up lead in certain service lines, leaving them insecure about what to do. They feel at risk if they do use their water, but if they don’t use it, lead won’t be flushed from the system, so they’ll have to continue to open the taps and because the state is cutting off assistance for the dangerous situation it created, they’ll have to pay for water they aren’t using. They’re stuck.
I know our governor did nothing to help your campaign in Michigan, but you won the state anyway. Wouldn’t it be great to stick it to Snyder by being the champion of the people of Flint? At the very least, please let the federal funds promised to Flint by the Environmental Protection Agency stand.
Flint is a historically blue-collar worker town that has been devastated by manufacturing jobs leaving the country. They are the forgotten people you call your own. Yes, many of them are African American forgotten people. And your administration doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to issues surrounding race. Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to address that by coming to the aid of a struggling, majority-African-American city? By actually bringing hope to Flint?