Dear Mr. Trump,
By all accounts this has not been a good month for you. The witch-hunt, the memos, the press secretaries hiding in bushes, Comey disguising himself as a curtain, the persistent fake news, and, of course, those pesky Russians—it really must have taken a toll. My British heritage taught me that etiquette and kindness matters, and I thought you might appreciate some praise and thanks amongst all this “American carnage.”
I hear you only read information with your name in, which, although perhaps a little narcissistic, is also a potentially a useful tool to get my thanks directly to you. Being president, I doubt you ever have any downtime to aimlessly peruse the Internet, but if you do find yourself googling terms like “Trump,” “great job,” and “tremendous praise,” I hope this letter finds its way to you.
As a green card holder I can’t vote, and unlike those thousands of people who, you’ve told us, engaged in voter fraud in November, I didn’t. I have to admit I didn’t support your rise to power. I went to a Hillary rally the day before the election, while my husband stayed at home and made hours of phone calls for her. The night of the election, I held my husband as the nation he loved slid away to a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
For your inauguration, I was not part of the “largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period.” Although, congratulations on this remarkable achievement. Instead I was listening to a lecture with a group of distinguished historians at Cambridge University. The dark January evening hung thick with dismay, and we awaited your ascension like students at Hogwarts waiting for the final battle.
Two months later I spent a nervous six-hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean worrying whether I would be allowed to enter my country of residence in light of your travel ban and acerbic attitude to foreigners.
As a foreign female academic who cares about facts and studies cultural diplomacy, I was perhaps understandably fearful of your self-certain rejection of experts and penchant for diplomacy via Tweet. And yet less than 6 months in I find myself writing this letter of praise.
On the campaign, I never understood “Make America Great Again.” It seemed an ill-timed slogan for a nation experiencing economic boom and falling unemployment. America didn’t need fixing, it already was great. While I still stand by this assertion, I am forced to admit that in important ways you have made this country greater, and for this, and this alone, I thank you.
Your ascent to power forced me to question the entire basis of American democracy and its cherished checks and balances, which now seem like little more than gentleman’s agreements. You’ve shown that the Oval Office needs a gentleman who respects the office, and without one the presidency is dangerously fragile. Your office highlights how much gesture, goodwill, and morality matter, and reminds us all that the letter and the spirit of the law are often two different things. But you also reminded me of the power of a single voice—for good or evil—and your ascent inspires me to use that voice.
While I study American history, I’ve rarely studied Washington. With you, all this changed. In the last few months I’ve been involved and actively engaged in politics in new and exciting ways. I look forward to discussing events with my husband, family, and friends, and I find great pleasure in being informed.
Your assault on fake news has inspired some of the best journalism I’ve ever read. The fierce rivalry between the New York Times and the Washington Post only serves to benefit the American people, as both institutions strive to dig deeper and break bigger stories. Both have hired more writers and devoted more resources to finding the truth hidden behind the arsenal of press conferences and tweets your administration relies on.
Like the fourth estate, the judiciary and the FBI also stepped up to make America great again. They’ve made bold statements and held you accountable for the hate filled anti-Muslim rhetoric you were so fond of brandishing on the campaign trail.
But your biggest success is with the people. Thanks to you, thousands of women knitted pink hats, New York lawyers rushed to JFK to assist in pro bono work for victims of your travel ban, people donated to fund Planned Parenthood and public art programs, guerilla crafters placed Sean Spicer cutouts in bushes, and all around the world millions have marched in support of democratic principles of knowledge, equality, and freedom.
Thank you 45, for you have indeed made America great again, but not in any of the ways you intended. You’ve provided Alec Baldwin with full-time employment, you’ve encouraged people to run for office, and you’ve made a marcher out of me. You reminded me of the power of my voice, and made me use it.
Maybe one day when you are out of the Oval Office, and a safe distance from the nuclear codes, this is how we will remember your legacy. I doubt it, but as your presidency demonstrates—anything can happen…