Mr. President, your tweets put MAGA in peril
I voted for Clinton, but I want you to unite us all
By TATIANA PROPHET
Dear Mr. President:
I didn’t vote for you. In fact, the day before the election, I was placing telephone calls from my apartment in California to registered voters in Florida, telling them with desperation, “You’ve got to get to the polls. You see, Trump might win.”
Unlike many of my fellow Hillary supporters, I knew the probabilities showed the potential for great volatility in the election. I also heard a report on NPR shortly before the big day, about the unprecedented ground game the Trump campaign had going on in Florida. It sent chills down my spine.
I didn’t hate you. I just didn’t realize America wasn’t already great, that there were whole segments of the population either underrepresented in the media or simply not important enough to start trending (except of course when readers want to be horrified by shocking crimes in those communities, or to watch a sound bite of a toothless trailer-park resident whose home was just destroyed by a tornado).
But when you won, I looked at myself. I looked at the media. I looked at the research. I looked at your very imperfectly delivered message. And I saw that you were speaking truth to power. I don't agree with everything you say, or do, but for the most part I think the coverage of your actual agenda is nearly as skewed as the coverage of you as a human.
And now, since all the people who already oppose you are only seeing the negative, it is imperative that you take the high road, that you end the vociferous volleying that has taken over our political soul.
Before the election, I didn’t have an inkling that the national news media largely ignores the problems in certain wards in the city of Chicago, so that while the overall crime rate is down from the 1990s, it is as bad as Caracas – the most dangerous city in the world – in some neighborhoods. Lost and forgotten, most of the men have no job prospects, only jail. There are economic solutions begging to be made there, as well as criminal justice solutions. This, I didn’t realize you knew.
I didn’t realize that when the trusted fact checking sources of this country rated your claims as mostly false, or completely false, that often a definitive answer was unreachable, or further study was needed.
I realized all these things after the election.
I realized that while you did get some facts wrong in the course of a speech or press conference, some of the facts were right. And they were quite important. But while the news media was saying that you lied nearly every day of your presidency, they never said what you got right.
I realized that the reason for leaving the Paris Accord that you emphasized the most, that it would reduce global temperatures by a mere two-tenths of one degree Celsius by the year 2100, was correct. It was cited in a 2015 MIT study. The author of the study confirmed to the Washington Post that it was true, and yes, it was only true if nothing further was done after the Paris Accord.
I realized long before you went to Europe that you were a lot smarter than many people thought, and that you had also been demonized in an obscene number of opinion pieces before the election. My mother always taught me to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially if they are being vilified in the press.
I observed how many people of color did not view you as racist at all, that they were focused on business and economic success and not about the boorish way you sometimes refer to minorities, putting an article in front of “black,” or talking about “the inner cities” as if all black people lived in them.
I realized that Mexico has some of the most stringent immigration enforcement in the world and that those who try to enter from Central America are sent back. I also realized that the limbo we’ve been in for decades regarding the immigration system needed to change, that one party didn’t have all the answers, that we had a right to enforce our immigration laws. And that Mexico needs to reform its economic system so that families don’t get torn apart, and can live in that beautiful country with prosperity and not for pennies a day.
After the election, I saw the TMZ interview with Harvey Levin that he had offered to do with both you and Hillary Clinton (but not together of course), and I saw that you were a kind man, and that you were indeed humbled by the awesome success you had so far achieved, and that this didn’t come through in your rallies, and the media certainly wasn’t going to convey it.
I knew your children were successful, principled people, baby elephant hunts notwithstanding (it turns out the NatGeo society even endorses the practice since there is a critical overpopulation going on in Kenya right now). I knew that they were good people because you raised them to be. I didn’t care that you were married three times, or that you put up a plaque at one of your golf courses that seemed to invent a new civil war battle, or at least exaggerate one several miles down river.
I allowed you your mistakes, namely the Access Hollywood tape.
And I got what you were saying in your inaugural address. You were referring to carnage, not only in a physical sense (Chicago, other inner cities due to drugs and gangs), but that you were referring to symbolic carnage. I knew that you truly championed the unsung people of our country, truly the forgotten men and women, the ones who have been working two or three crappy jobs because they can’t get one good one.
I knew why they trusted a billionaire like you. I saw you connect with them. I saw you talking about things that no politician has been talking about these last few years.
I knew that growth in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product was hardly ever mentioned by the media as a measure of the economy, but only the unemployment rate. I also checked your figures, and you were right. It has been shockingly low, even for four years after the Great Recession. I also knew that when discouraged workers drop out of the labor market, they are no longer part of the jobless figures.
I finally figured out that when you said “Make America Great Again,” you were talking about making this country the economic and political leader that it once was, not back in the 1950s but back in the 1980s. I also saw that you were not trying to turn back the clock on social issues. Yes, you oppose abortion. But so do most Republicans and maybe half the country. And even if you did end up overturning the bathroom order by Obama, I knew you weren’t out to take away the rights of trans people or anyone else in the LGBT community. We have come such a long way with civil rights, even in the last 8 years. Remember when Obama was opposed to same-sex marriage? Yes, it seems incredible.
And I know you didn’t support the Iraq War. The reluctance to support a fait accompli in talking to Howard Stern was enough to convince me. That is one of the rare moments when I saw you use tact. You said “I … guess so….” in answer to his question about whether you supported that unprovoked war.
And I was inspired when you pledged in your acceptance speech to be president for all Americans, saying “and this is so important to me.”
I also know that you didn’t expect the onslaught of bad press in the first days of your presidency – beginning with the ridicule of your crowd on Inauguration Day, to the hostility at your 77-minute press conference in the East Room -- taking only the most bizarre moments and leaving some very real, informative moments. I saw all those things. I knew largely what you meant when you talked about the great inauguration crowd in your first television interview at the White House. I knew it still might be the greatest viewing audience ever, due to social media. And I knew from interviewing a respected crowd counter and journalism professor at the University of Missouri that the Washington Post had overestimated the crowd size for President Obama’s inauguration in 2008 by as much as a million people because they were counting people looking out of their windows. He puts the crowd on the mall at 800,000 for President Obama.
I also knew why you were talking about the crowd so much. You were doing it for the roughly one third of registered voters who voted for you – the forgotten men and women, most of whom are fine with the changing social milieu but who just want to talk about something that means more to them personally – like survival.
I knew that many of the extremists who supported you were trying to ruin the party, jump on the bandwagon and twist your message.
I knew alternative facts were as old as the printing press, and that the reason the left took up this term with such gusto was that they were so incredibly shocked and hurt by the reality of your election. Any sign of a mishap or screw up sent them tittering to their keyboards.
And yes, they still have not accepted your victory. That is why you keep mentioning it.
I know all of these things.
I know that you’ve been working very hard for the American people. I also did my research and I know that Obamacare is unsustainable. I watched your energy round table and I watched your crime victims meeting and I thought you were incredibly thoughtful and nuanced at those events. No one’s going to give you a gold star for saying “Indian Country” at a meeting of tribal elders (which you did). But they sure as heck will tweet up a storm when you don’t directly mention the Jewish people in your Holocaust Remembrance proclamation or you don’t hold a feast to mark the end of Ramadan (why, Mr. President? Why?)
I know that no other president has ever been as unfairly treated as you have by the media since taking office. I know they ignore your speeches and the good ideas you have. I know they paint your plans in the absolute worst possible light, leaving out context and never, ever giving you the benefit of the doubt. I know they magnify every little word you say as a giant misstep and that they focus on style and pleasantries rather than the context of all your efforts.
You’ve kept many of your campaign promises. Now, Mr. President, I expect you to keep the most important promise of all: the promise to unify our country.
You have a unique opportunity to stop or at least slow the polarization that has been happening at an ever increasing rate every year. You now have the unique opportunity to stop the demonization of the other side, to stop the obstructionism. You have the chance to show your supporters, by example, that you can take the high road. Showing humility and remorse can garner so much respect, especially in this vitriolic atmosphere that is now our reality. Those who oppose you will not be able to criticize you, and those who support you will respect you, too. The strongest leaders can do this, and yet still present an image of unquestioned strength and resolve about the things that matter.
I know it’s easy to get discouraged and to think that those who hate you will never change. But this I can tell you: You can still become the leader that we need. I’ve seen you speak from your heart before. And I need you to do that now, more than ever.
You are better than this. We are all better than this. Those who are defending you for the personal attacks you’ve launched against your enemies, in my opinion, should not do so. No matter how often we repeat that two wrongs don’t make a right, our instinct as humans is always to justify our own behavior by pointing the finger at someone else.
But that is beneath you, Mr. President. It is beneath all of us.
When you are attacked, you do not need to attack back anymore. You won. Each time you attack someone who has attacked you, you give them more notoriety and more power.
You are a Christian. I’ve seen you quote the Bible, and I believe you and your wife are sincere and devout. Now it’s time for you to emulate the carpenter from Nazareth, and turn the other cheek.
Go on live television, open your heart, and ask for a reset from all of the American people, not just the “deplorable,” who are much smarter than the other side gives them credit for. Many hearts can change if they see that you are sincere and want to get things right. And then go on Twitter, and be humble in 140 characters or less. Or, tweet a humble tweet storm. That's OK, too.
You’ve achieved an incredible feat, and you’ve succeeded. Now, surprise us. Prove everyone wrong. I believe you can rise to the occasion, make it through the learning curve with flying colors, and lead us to greatness.
Make America Great Again, Mr. President.