Dear President Trump,
Since I never received a reply to the letter I sent you during the 2016 Presidential Campaign season, I was hesitant about writing to you again. However, as one who cares passionately about the future of this great country of ours, I feel compelled to reach out to you whether you respond or not. You see, President Trump, your success as the 45th President of the United States of America, and my success as an American citizen, are inextricably linked. Simply put, it would be foolish for me to join forces with those who’re committed to your failure.
Although millions of Americans did not vote for you, one of the most positive aspects of our political system is the fact Americans do not resort to violence when their candidate loses. Thankfully, our collective love for America transcend the political labels associated with libertarians, democrats, independents, socialists, or republicans, among others. Your slogan, Make America Great Again, resonated convincingly with nearly 62 million voters—enough to garner you an indisputable 304 Electoral College votes no matter how the political pundits sought to spin it. While more than a dozen agencies have concluded that Russia sought to influence the U. S. national election, currently there is no evidence to support the assertion by some that they actually succeeded in impacting the outcome. Although I am not a conspiracy theorists, for the sake of this democracy of ours I believe it’s important to know the extent of Russia’s attempts to interfere so we can take corrective action going forward. At all levels of the political system, Americans must have confidence in the legitimacy of our election outcomes.
As you approach the 180 day mark of your presidency, I’m anxiously awaiting the evidence that your current trajectory will expand America’s greatness. You see, Mr. President, this was a great nation long before your election and it will continue to be one no matter the length of your tenure. It is my fervent prayer that your impulsive and unpredictable behavior will not unwittingly undermine America’s stature at home or abroad. America’s domestic and international relationships were built on a foundation of mutual respect and collective well-being, dating back to our nation’s founding in 1776. Irrespective of the political party of the forty-four presidents who preceded you, each of them understood and embraced diplomacy while relying on advice from their staff and some of the most brilliant minds in America across the political divide.
Mr. President, as an HBCU graduate and advocate, I viewed your seemingly early embrace of this sector of higher education as an opportunity for you to convey to America in general, and the HBCU community in particular, your understanding of the role these institutions have played and continue to play in making educational opportunity a reality for countless numbers of first-generation students. With bated breath, I waited for your first proposed budget to see if there was alignment between your rhetoric, the photo-op and your recommendations relative to HBCU funding. Needless to say, I was disappointed in the lack of funds designated specifically for a group of institutions that suffer the cumulative and historic effects of under-funding. Many of my more optimistic colleagues have opined that it could have been a lot worse, to which I say, “it could have been a lot better and it could have provided an opportunity for the Republican party to gain support from a sector of the electorate that has voted overwhelmingly for the democratic party historically”
Mr. Trump, I believe there are several things you can do to build on America’s greatness and allow you to go down in history as the first President to unify Americans across boundaries of race, socioeconomic status, gender and geography.
1. Don’t be so fixated on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act that you forego the opportunity to fix it! Low and middle-income people need access to high quality healthcare, and they should not get caught in the middle of the shenanigans defined by Parisian politics. Mr. Trump, your legacy will be assured if you insist that Congress find a way to provide healthcare for the most vulnerable among us. Your base supporters, and persons from similar economic backgrounds, will be among those who will suffer the most if the States have the option of covering or not covering them. Those suffering the devastating effects of opioid addiction come from all corners of the country and from all economic strata.
2. Propose and get a national infrastructure bill passed. If anyone can do this, you can. Deteriorating bridges and highways, outdated schools, and overloaded electrical grids affect all Americans no matter how they voted or where they reside. I would describe a national infrastructure bill as low hanging civic and political fruit that no elected or corporate officials can resist.
3. Access to excellent K-12 schools should not be a function of ones economic standing or zip code. While high performing Charter schools are part of the solution, they are not the complete solution and mustn’t be posited as alternatives to a healthy public school system. The most important prerequisite for ensuring a strong public school system begins with paying a livable wage to teachers—those to whom we entrust the critical task teaching of our children.
4. The time for investing in the revitalization of America’s urban and rural communities is now! Ignoring them not only threatens the stability of our democracy, but the well-being of the most vulnerable among us. Rather than giving tax breaks to the wealthiest 2%, why not invest strategically in programs and services that support those in the bottom third of the U. S. economy?
5. Voting is one of the most sacred and equalizing rights available to all Americans, and must be protected and preserved at all costs. Efforts to restrict voting rights under the guise of reducing unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud must be resisted and called what it is, racial and ethnic discrimination and intimidation. The political party that’s perceived as doing the most to ensure the right to vote will be the greatest beneficiary of votes from affected persons. Mr. Trump, that could be your party!
6. Whether or not America should have abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement, I cannot say. But the one thing we all know is this: the earth is warming and we— our children and grandchildren— are at risk no matter where we live or how much money we have. If you and your scientific advisors evaluated the agreement and concluded that it was disadvantageous to America, I respect your decision. But to do nothing given all that we know from climate science about our endangered environment is unacceptable and a dereliction of responsibility.
Mr. Trump, there is so much more I want to say but I’ll stop here for now. For the sake of current and future generations of Americans, we need you to succeed as President. As a Patriot who believes passionately in the promise and potential of America, I hope you accept my observations in the spirit in which they are offered. I’m prepared to assist you in any way I can to build on the greatness that characterizes America—the hallmark of freedom worldwide.
Charlie Nelms, Citizen