Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dear President Trump

This is my postcard on this Ides of Trump...

Dear President Trump,

First let me say, I did not vote for you.  Being from the Northeast I certainly knew of you, may have respected your business acumen in real estate, certainly gave nod to your ability to stay pretty near the top of some game as the decades passed; acknowledged that you're a Survivor. You're a contestant who eventually becomes the host of the show.  

Your congressional speech was aspirational; as those speeches are.  And yes, it didn't offer any details on how you would pay for your vision of what you want your Presidency to achieve, but neither do any of those speeches.  And while I realize it was only words, I was glad to see that you could restrain your tendencies.         At least once.

As a former teacher and an always-educator, my message to you is I'd like to remind you that you are the role model for millions of individuals who look up to and hold their President in esteem. You and your words, actions, and behaviors, impact millions  especially those citizens who aren't yet voters  our young people.

I say this because many, many years back, when I was giving a workshop on academic integrity with the eighth-grade class at a private, elite academy, one of the students justified his choice of actions by saying, "Well if the President can lie, why can't I?"  I was dumbfounded.  Not just at what this student said and believed, but at the fact that not one other adult in the room chose to tackle the ethical issues raised by that response.  

I bring this story up because it was in reference to then-President Clinton. Despite the fact that I am in disbelief at much of what you are doing, that is your right to do.  This is a democracy, flaws and all; it is what we've got, what has worked, what is often envied, and what people fight for.  Democracy will work its way through this the way it always has.  It lies in the words and actions of our elected officials and the populace.  While I'm waiting for democracy to work,  I can't abide by the lack of standard you are setting for our children.  Nor can I understand how those who support you can overlook the crassness and the lack of decency in your daily behavior.

Almost immediately after the inauguration of the Trump presidency, in two very different settings (one on an airplane and the other in a college campus paper) I heard examples of young people behaving in ways I found disturbing.  One was a reference to a student overhearing a few other students openly talking in a racist way while walking across their college campus.  The other way was a college professor headed back to his campus in another state, recounting that all of a sudden some students were balking at the partners they were being teamed with, etc.  To me that was appalling.  And like it or not, you, the President, gave them license to behave that way.

President Trump, here's what I'd ask: Isn't there a way for you to fulfill your new role, do the work you want to do but do it in a more positive, character-building way because it's what's best for all our children?  

I'm not asking you to stop tweeting, but does every day have to be a day that you disparage someone or some group?  Does every day have to be a day that you spout untruths?  Why not do your job without doing that?  I know it's not how you're used to behaving, but you're not in the real estate business NOW (well, at least you shouldn't be).

It's in no one else's control; what you say and do sets a standard for a portion of our populace.   I understand the focus on a bottom-line business approach and attention to more efficiency because we've gotten very top-heavy and incredibly sluggish about how our government runs.  I'm all in favor of improving THAT.  But I deplore how you are governing.  I rail at your lack of discipline and your choice to be uncivil and unwelcoming to those who most need the protection of the Presidency.  

I expect my President to be truthful and compassionate and just  that is what I wish and want and hope for, because it is what everyone who loves America deserves.  Other postcards will say much more, but today I'm focusing on the thing I believe you CAN change.

President Trump, we can disagree on just about everything else but can't we agree that all our children deserve to feel safe from the fear of being uprooted from their families?  Can't we agree that every student deserves to feel safe from harm, be it verbal or physical?  Can't we agree that making America great is making it strong AND kind AND inclusive?

I can.

I hope you can.