Dear President Trump,
Welcome to Washington, D.C.!
Not too long ago I also made the move from New York and it’s a transition that takes some getting used to. You haven’t made it clear how much time you intend to spend here but I’m sure you’ll come to understand, if you’re not already familiar, that there’s Washington, the town where you’ve come to work, where Mitch and Ryan are kings of the hill, and your new hotel sits a couple left turns from the West Wing. Then there’s D.C., where Muriel works, the Metro doesn’t always, the Redskins rule, and you can turn right on red (usually).
Washington mostly didn’t expect you, D.C. overwhelmingly didn’t vote for you, but we all need for you to try to be a decent president. Operating from within an occasionally unsupportive environment should not feel new to you, as you’ve maintained a notoriously love-hate relationship with New Yorkers, who also overwhelmingly did not vote for you. Advancing the interests of yourself and your family against currents or tides of resistance has been your m.o. for decades, and I respect that.
What definitely is new to you is holding an elected office that demands you advance the interests of people who aren’t your family, don’t work for you and might have little to nothing in common with you. As a public servant, you must be an advocate for, and champion of, Americans who can’t stand you. That’s rough, but it comes with the job that you campaigned for and won. Are you up to that? Can you be so magnanimous? Do you have that much compassion in you?
I watched and listened to you during this past campaign, and I didn’t see it. I’ve been paying attention to you as a public figure for much of my adult life, and I’ve never seen it.
I don’t see it in a man who brags about grabbing women by their genitals.
I don’t see it in a man who defends publicly mocking one person by claiming that he mocks and insults all kinds of people.
I don’t see it in a man who spends any amount of time tweeting about his so-called enemies.
I don’t see it in your cabinet picks, and certainly not in your choice of running mate.
You do seem to understand the value of compassion. In your speech to the Republican National Convention, you vowed to build an administration that is considerate to everyone, adding, “But my greatest compassion will be for our own struggling citizens.”
Fine — when will we see that? How long will citizens struggling against poverty, inequality and discrimination have to wait as you publicly demean your detractors, before they see you focus on uplifting us all? Not too long, I hope, because all Americans need your compassion right now, those who voted for you and especially the ones who can’t stand you. It won’t be easy.
I wish you well.
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The opinions expressed in these letters are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations and this magazine, its staff and contributors.
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