Open Letter to Donald J. Trump by Nancy Townsley

Editor Carrie Seitzinger, Letters, November 11th, 2016

"this election was like a giant, neon arrow pointing right back at yourself."

open letter to donald trump by nancy townsley
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No.

Just no.

I realize it’s less than 24 hours post-election, not even a day since you somehow—inexplicably to me—were able to wrest victory from the jaws of the long national parade of ugliness that was the 2016 presidential campaign—ugliness that, were she flesh and blood, would surely have Lady Liberty holding her head in anguish and despair.

The fact of your stunning Electoral College win is only just beginning to sink in, and it’s going to take me some time to absorb, process and accept it.

Please, have some forbearance. You cannot stand up there behind that podium and ask us to “bind the wounds of division” when millions of us are walking around in a purple haze of disbelief, wondering how in the hell we missed the memo that you were absolutely going to Make America Great Again—your way—whether we liked it or not. You wrestled us to the ground, tied us to the hospital bed, stuck a needle in our arm and injected gallons of venom into our veins as you spewed your distaste for those not as white, privileged, wily or wanton as yourself.

We may never be the same.

You should not suggest that you—a man who so diligently and deliberately over the past 18 months sowed seeds of fear, bigotry, misogyny and hate—ought to be able to immediately, magically unify a country that’s now in tatters, its sense of self obliterated, its citizens fighting against each other in word and deed, as you so successfully taught us to do.

I tried to listen without crying this morning as you promised to be “a President for all the people,” Republicans and Democrats, women and men, Muslims and Christians, Latinos and Blacks. At that moment, in the pit of my stomach, I felt feelings of anger and helplessness, like I was again being hoodwinked by a master manipulator who wants to be crowned King so much more than he wants to lead and love We The People.

In these early stages, it’s impossible for me to make that leap, Mr. President-elect, because right now, I do not believe you. I don’t believe you have my best interests at heart as I near retirement age, or my children’s welfare in mind as they try to rise to their individual and collective potential as Millennials. I don’t believe you will aid the economy, or make our citizens safer, or improve our schools or put policies in place to help save our planet.

I do not think you will care about people of color or immigrants or the poor. Instead, I am afraid you will do whatever your frenetic attention span tells you it wants to do, barring a short leash from your handlers and the long arm of the law.

Everything you showed me during the lead-up to this election was like a giant, neon arrow pointing right back at yourself. From the moment you descended the gilded escalator at Trump Tower in Manhattan to the moment the voters spoke, you oozed self-absorption, hubris and an insatiable appetite for attention, submissiveness and adoration.

You disenfranchised and demeaned women, minorities, whole religious sects and the life’s work of genuine public servants whose dedication should have earned your awe, not your ostentation. You bullied, you bloviated, you bamboozled. Your invective—from “Drugs and rapists” to “No puppet” to “Nasty woman”— has made us meaner, baser, less reflective and more reactive.

Your candidacy, in a phrase, was not good for America.

I voted for the Other Candidate, but I don’t want to talk about Her right now. I’d like to focus, instead, on exactly how you propose to heal the chasm in our country that is partially of your own making, one no political party—though complicit in its creation—can hope to bridge before months, maybe years, of introspection form rungs of outreach that actually encourage us to listen to each other, try to understand each others’ perspectives and work together to lift up this nation we love.

I did not vote for you—not because I’m a progressive Democrat (which I am), or because I thought the Other Candidate was perfect (she was not, though she was eminently more thoughtful, qualified, prepared and inclusive). I did not vote for you because you did not meet even the lowest bar I set for supporting a person who aspires to the highest office in the land: kindness. If a candidate does not impress me as someone who will stand up for women, children, those with disabilities and the “least of these,” he or she will not get my vote. Period.

We must now move forward together. There is no other way. Many of us are trying mightily to move past our shock and dismay at the election’s outcome. Some are saying that once you’re inaugurated, you’ll surely have the good sense to surround yourself with intelligent, capable people who, like physicians taking the Hippocratic oath, will First Do No Harm. I’m struggling to hold onto that, but five words you spoke at one of your many rallies—“I alone can fix it”—clearly expressed your contempt for helpful collaboration. That very dangerous declaration, heard well beyond our shores, continues to reverberate inside my head, shouting down the side of me that wishes to be optimistic.

I want to maintain hope, like Anne Frank, that despite everything, people—including you—are really good at heart. The Other Candidate, in her gracious concession speech, implored us to open our minds and give you a chance. To honor her and me and so many others, I hope to endeavor to do that.

Please show me I am wrong about you. The future of our nation, and its place in the world, depends on it.

+ + +

Header image courtesy of Brendan Clinch. To view his photo essay, “Flameless Grenade,” go here.

Nancy Townsley essay NAILED MagazineNancy Townsley’s work has most recently been published at Role Reboot, Brain, Child Magazine, NAILED Magazine, The Riveter Magazine, runnersworld.com and Bleed, a literary blog from Jaded Ibis Press. She lives in Scappoose, Oregon, on a floating home along the Multnomah Channel.

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Carrie Seitzinger

Carrie Seitzinger is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Seitzinger is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.
Learn more about her at her official site.