an open letter to the president-elect. (2016 edition.)

To: Donald J. Trump (with an understanding you’ll likely never see this)

From: Jeff Poling, Jr

Dear President-Elect Trump,

There are many places from which I could start, so I’ll just have to choose one – I didn’t vote for you yesterday. I watched you insult your way to the nomination, leaving politicians I liked and admired behind, usually with a catchy new name (Low-energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, ‘Lil Marco, and democrats I liked too, like Goofy Elizabeth Warren.) I didn’t like you through this whole process. I was frustrated by (but in a weird way, admired) how you could not answer questions and get away with it, you somehow overcame all of the mire that surrounded your campaign and got enough people to go out and vote for you. But I recognize that winning the presidency isn’t as easy or as cheap as some people make it sound – some are saying you just riled up all of the racists, xenophobes, homophobes, nationalists and brought them out to vote, but I know our country is better than that. There aren’t enough terrible people out there to win a general election. I know some good people who voted for you – family members, friends, people I go to church with – so I know you got more than the scum of the earth to propel you into the presidency.

For that, I congratulate you. Running for president is a hard task, of that I’m sure. The late nights, early mornings, briefings, the sheer amount of information you take in – I respect it. I can’t help but respect it. I didn’t vote for you yesterday because I couldn’t – because I couldn’t live with the taste in my mouth of a man who misrepresented the Conservatism (or at least the name thereof) I grew up practicing.

I awoke to Facebook posts from people I know who were/are genuinely concerned about what this election says about America. I know people who are worried for their lives, for their rights, for their friends, loved ones, etc. I know people who are afraid we may just become a laughable, corrupt government that’s only worse than it’s ever been. I, for one, worried about what you may do to our nation’s standing in the world, and worried about how our relationships with our allies would pan out.

But here we are, you’re the president-elect, and I hope you know the task you have on your hands. You managed to understand (at least on the surface) the challenges that working white men and women faced and the fears they had – and those helped you win. Now, I really, truly hope that you understand the fears and concerns of Hispanic Americans, black Americans, LGBTQ Americans, Muslim Americans, women, veterans, children in school, rich, poor, etc. and I hope that you present a vision to make their lives better, with liberty and justice for all.

For the sake of all other Americans, I hope that your plans and policies work. I hope they make America even better than it already is. I hope that unemployment goes down under your administration. I hope that people get good-paying jobs with good-paying wages and don’t have to pay loads of tax. I hope our national debt doesn’t increase under you. I hope that people who are poor and/or have pre-existing conditions are able to find affordable health care, should you be successful in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. I hope that our country stays safe. I hope that mass shootings go down. I hope murder rates go down. I hope education gets better and better. I hope the economy thrives. I hope ISIS is destroyed and the Middle East becomes stable with the help of the United States. I hope people are able to immigrate peacefully and find a future in the United States – because we represent a beacon of hope to many people in many nations in a way that you or i – as naturally born citizens – may never understand.

I hope you can somehow bring people together. Our country hurts right now – I gave hugs to several people this morning, one of whom was on the verge of crying, because they were so disappointed that you won. I don’t fault you for winning – you played to win. I just hope that you understand that. I hope you understand that people doubt your ability. I hope you prove all of us wrong. I hope history looks back on a Donald Trump presidency and sees a fruitful time in our nation – and know that, as the musical says, history does have its eyes on you.

The world is watching. The people are watching. And the way our government works, we’re your boss – not the other way around. We are represented by you – but you are one man, we are many. Your future is up to us – whether we request an impeachment, or simply don’t vote for you again in 2020 – you’re in our hands.

Because of that, I’m not freaking out. Sure, if you asked me before the election, I’d say I didn’t want you in the Oval Office because I think you’re prone to getting pissed off, you have thin skin, and you could fly off the handle at any moment. I still think that. But I know that if I’m wrong, we’re all better off, and if I’m right, then we could just not give you another term.

People are upset and angry, and you’d do well to let them feel that. Now’s not the time to talk a lot, now’s not the time to make a bunch of wordy promises and say, “believe me.” Now’s the time to work. Now’s the time to prove yourself. It’s time to prove you’ve got what it takes to fix the issues facing our country. You’ve got a few months before you take office, so prepare yourself, calm yourself down, take a breath, have a drink, and get to work.

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