I’m not exactly a fan of Donald Trump. But this week, I’ve been seized by the notion that I don’t get to pick and choose whom I love. It’s easy for me to rant about how we should be caring for the poor and marginalized, but the truth is we should be caring for the wealthy and those in the spotlight as well. That doesn’t feel as noble, but concerning myself with “noble” is a clear indicator that I’ve made it all about me. Also, it’s important for me to remember there’s no hierarchy of humanity, other than what we’ve created. So, this letter developed from an attempt to see Mr. Trump as a person of value—as someone worthy of love and grace—rather than a villain. This doesn’t mean I endorse him as a political candidate; it only means that I’m trying to practice what I preach.
Dear Mr. Trump,
I wanted to learn more about you this morning—other than what the media is telling me—so I went to trump.com and read your biography.
It includes words like acquisitions, purchase, holdings, and own. Paragraph after paragraph recounts your financial success and real estate prowess. I learned about your collections of clothing and home furnishings, your earnings from speaking engagements, and the stack of books bearing your name. I discovered that you collect golf courses, clubhouses, and luxury hotels. Nestled among the 26 paragraphs describing what you have, I found two describing what you’ve given. Of the 4,428 words I read, I found none describing your family.
Next, I went to your presidential campaign site, where your bio begins in the same way: “Donald J. Trump is the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence while expanding his interests in real estate, sports and entertainment.” This bio is an abridged version of what’s at trump.com, although there’s an expanded paragraph about your philanthropic efforts for veterans, and the last bit is a cursory nod to your family.
I have to admit I’m beginning to feel sorry for you.
To be clear, “sorry” has not been my predominant emotion when it comes to The Donald. I experience the presidential-candidate version of you as arrogant, discourteous, careless, volatile, immature, misogynistic, and tragically culturally insensitive (at best). Admittedly, other than the one debate I caught, my exposure to you has been through drama-soaked television “news” programs and Now This clips. I recognize those aren’t the most unbiased sources available, which is why I went looking on your own sites for some redeeming qualities.
Here’s what I found: You’re skilled at making money. You opine with conviction. You certainly don’t lack self-confidence.
And… I think maybe you’re sad. Not the nice-word-for-pathetic sad. Sad sad.
I wonder if you established a persona over the years that brought you some wealth and fame, and now you don’t know how to get out of it. Do you wonder if your friends truly care about you—or if they like you only because of your power and money? Do you measure your worth by an applause-meter and a bank statement? Do you invent “facts” because you’re desperate for the approval of your tribe?
I can’t find any information about how you serve other people, other than through money—and even then, your generosity is relatively limited. I suppose it could be argued that becoming POTUS is an act of service. Except you seem bent on serving a select group of people, not humanity in general. Or even Americans in general.
I don’t mean to sound judgmental. It’s your money and time and life, after all. I’m just learning how free it feels to give myself away. When I don’t, I get sad. And I wonder if that’s happened to you, too.
It’s possible this isn’t entirely your fault, anyway—all this acquiring and holding and chest-beating and such. If you’re actually “the very definition of an American success story,” we have a bigger problem to tackle, don’t we? It’s possible you’ve just bought into the lie that we should love things and use people, instead of the other way around.
I don’t want you to win the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency; your ideology is wonky bordering on dangerous (and you’d say the same about mine). Still, I’m done poking fun at you, and I’m going to stop telling my husband that a vote for Trump is a vote for divorce. I’m going to skip over 45-second video clips gleaned from 30-minute speeches, because it’s not fair to form an opinion based on 3% of what you said.
And maybe I’ve misunderstood you, Mr. Trump. Maybe you’re the happy-go-luckiest guy around. But I don’t think so. I can’t help but wonder if, deep down, you’re asking the same question we’re all asking ourselves: “Am I okay?”
Well, you are. And you can stop trying to prove it now.
I used the phrase “tragically culturally insensitive (at best)” in an attempt to avoid name-calling. And then I came across this Washington Post opinion piece, and my stomach tied itself in knots. It’s incredibly difficult to be reminded of all the nasty things Mr. Trump has said and not edit the hell out of this letter. So let me say this, because I don’t want any misunderstandings: Mr. Trump, by virtue of his humanity, is okay; many of his words and much of his behavior are not. I’d like to believe his heart is good—there’s evidence of that, actually—but there seems to be a disconnect between his heart, brain, and mouth.
And I’m not talking about “political correctness.” It’s not “politically correct” to choose not to mock someone with a disability. It’s not “politically correct” to avoid sharing completely fabricated statistics that denigrate African Americans. It’s not “politically correct” to treat women with respect.
But here’s a bit of irony for you: “tragically culturally insensitive (at best)” was, embarrassingly enough, my attempt at being politically correct. So, I’m going to use a bit stronger language: Trump offers hateful, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic commentary, and if he’s elected POTUS, he will lead our country through those filters. That is 100% not okay with me.
AND YET. He has a spark of the divine; so how can I not extend love to him? It’s so freaking complicated. I blame Jesus.