Photograph by Wes Peck
Dear Mr. President,
Who do you work for?
I know that you’re the president of the (electoral) United States, but, seriously, who do you work for?
During your campaign, you pledged to drain the swamp.
During your inaugural address, you assured us that you were going to return the power to rule to the American people.
Now, (149) days into your presidency, I’m still wondering: who do you work for?
Actually, no — I’m not still wondering. You’ve already answered that question. We know how much your business interests in the Persian Gulf and in Russia are worth. We know, at this point, you’re working only for yourself. I mean, yes, your reign might enrich a handful of other folks, but, really, what this whole charade comes down to is you attempting, by whatever means you can, to enrich the Trump family.
My real question is this: what are you working for?
Because, you see, your legacy is not a matter of how much money you inherited from your daddy or how much of that money you passed on to your children, but what you did with what you were given and with what you made from that initial pot.
John D. Rockefeller, who was never elected president, started giving a portion of his income to charity at age 16. Did you? By the time he died, Andrew Carnegie, who was never elected president, had given away $350,000,000. Bill Gates, who has not yet been elected president, plans to give 95% of his wealth to charity.
What do you have planned? What are you going to do with the money that Saudi Arabia has sent your way? What are you going to do with the money you’ve made from your dealings in the United Arab Emirates? What are you going to do with the money that so many foreign powers have paid to stay in your Mar-a-Lago hotel?
So far, it looks like you want to keep it for yourself. And your immediate family.
And I understand that desire. I really do.
But, do you ever consider the fundamental worth of this country? The country that elected you president? Do you ever consider what you want to leave it? Or how you want to leave it? As you pointed out during your campaign, our infrastructure is crumbling; how are your business deals going to address that? College education is increasingly unaffordable; how are you going to address that? Libraries, schools, and community centers are all underfunded and sinking; how are you going to address that?
In order to answer that question, I think you have to answer this one first: how do you want to be remembered? Are you going to continue using your position to enrich yourself and those closest to you? Are you going to go down in history as our least popular president in 40 years?
Now that you’re president, that’s what you have to think about — not just what you’re worth at the end of your life, but what you did with the time you had and the money and the influence you had access to. That history book hasn’t been written yet, Mr. Trump. What do you want your grandchildren to read on your page?