Benash: An Open Letter to Trump
Getting down to business with a charlatan.
On getting down to business with a charlatan.
I didn’t vote for you, but you and I do share something in common. We both believe in dispensing with pleasantries and getting down to brass tacks. So allow me to do so.
I don’t like you. I don’t like your ideas. I don’t like the things you say, or your cavalier attitude toward important matters. And I don’t like the company you keep.
Furthermore, I see right through you. I know who you are. You are a fraud and a charlatan, presenting yourself as a man of the people while living a lavish lifestyle only made possible through the money you inherited from your father. You are a thin-skinned bully and a demagogue, attaining your position of power not by demonstrating an understanding of the issues our nation faces but by appealing to our worst instincts and impulses. And you are an opportunist; if the selections for your cabinet are any indication, you intend to use the office of the presidency to further enrich yourself and your associates.
You claim to be a strong leader who makes intelligent decisions, but once again your proposed cabinet betrays this claim. Appallingly, you have appointed a man who has advanced white nationalist and anti-Semitic rhetoric as your chief strategist. Your national security adviser is a man who traffics in paranoia and irresponsible conspiracy theories. Your proposed secretary of housing and urban development has publicly admitted that he is not qualified for the position. And your proposed secretary of energy, the man who will manage our nation’s nuclear weapons, once forgot that the Department of Energy even existed.
Despite this, you are the president. I hope you understand the responsibility you have undertaken. Every action you take is of consequence. The actions you do not take are of consequence. Every word you speak, every proclamation you issue, every idiotic thing you tweet carries weight. You are the most powerful man in the world, and everything you do affects every person on this planet.
I hope that you grasp this. You have provided immense hope to your supporters. Their communities have been decimated by job losses, the opioid epidemic, automation, globalization and most importantly, four decades of poor leadership at the local, state and federal level. You may have been joking about making America great again, but they took you seriously. Blue collar workers in the Rust Belt believe that you are going to bring back manufacturing jobs. Miners in coal country believe that you are going to save their industry. The rural communities that formed the backbone of your support believe that you are going to enact policies that will revitalize their businesses, infrastructure, and schools.
In short, you promised a return to the 1950s, when America’s economy reigned supreme in a world that was devastated by war. But that was then; the global economy has moved on, and the nations of the world have developed their own industries and thriving markets. Even with your questionable decision-making skills, you must at some basic level understand that the world is not going to abandon a half-century of economic development just because you think it would be a good idea.
Yet as wiser men than myself have said, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Americans will eventually see that you and your supporters in the Republican Party are all talk with no real solutions. It may be when they lose their health care. It may be when the jobs don’t come back like you promised. It may be when the wall isn’t built. Regardless, your supporters will realize that you took advantage of them, and took advantage of their trust. They will realize that you never cared about their jobs, their communities, their children or their very existence. And they will realize that you only used them so you and your rich buddies could make more money. I can think of nothing more cruel.
It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Only you can decide what kind of president you want to be. You can make a firm stand for truly democratic values: free speech, a free press, freedom of religion, racial and gender equality, gay rights, workers’ rights, voters’ rights, a well-regulated and fair marketplace — so on. It’s still not too late for this. But based on what I’ve seen so far, I can only imagine you as a modern-day Nero, fiddling while Rome burns. I hope you prove me wrong.
W.R. Benash is an information access assistant at Dartmouth College Library. He is also a writer working on his first book.