Dear Mr. Trump,
Let me start off this letter by relaying my sincere congratulations on your win on Election Day. While I didn't vote for you, I think you fought a tough battle with a contender like Hillary Rodham Clinton. Other people would not have fared so well against a woman as qualified for the position as she is.
I currently live in the town of Kettering, Ohio, part of the larger Dayton Metro area, all of which sit inside Montgomery County, Ohio. Many people in Montgomery County didn't vote for you, either, but as evidenced by your gain in electoral votes from Ohio, much of the rest of the state did.
But I'm not here to tell you what you already know. I'm here to tell you a little bit about me and what I went through this morning after you had been announced as the winner of the 2016 election.
You see, I teach at Sinclair Community College, set in downtown Dayton. On a daily basis, I am surrounded by a diverse and intelligent group of colleagues, students, and staff. We come from all walks of life; each of us inhabits a different story. But despite the differences, I hold the women and men who clean the toilets in the basement of Building 3 with as much regard as I do the president of the college. Furthermore, when I walk into the office or into my classroom, I don't look at the color of a person's skin or their gender or whether or not they might be disabled. What I see are good, hardworking Americans trying to further the education of good, hardworking students. We work together as family because we are family. We are united in a cause: to educate the American people.
But the morning after the election, I was approached by a couple of students, who shared with me their fears.
1. A student who suffers from a debilitating disease and who, until the Affordable Care Act was put into place, was denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition: "What am I going to do if my insurance will no longer cover me?" she asked me.
2. A young man who works several minimum wage jobs and struggles to pay his bills. "I already go to work 50 hours a week, and take a couple of classes," he said. "What about a hike in minimum wage? Trump can't make up his mind, and I'm afraid I won't be able to pay the rent come next year."
I didn't know what to say to them other than this: "We have to wait and trust that Mr. Trump's plans will help us instead of hurt us."
The thing is, only two of my students came to me and discussed their situations, but I can tell you that a large number of my students (both past and present) represent the group you refer to as "the forgotten man and woman." They are single mothers, partially dependent on welfare, who come back to school to get a nursing degree so that they can support their children, long ago abandoned by a dead-beat dad. They are single dads, trying to obtain their associate's degree so that they can earn more money and support their family in a way they can feel proud of. They are members of our military who have put their lives on the line for us.
They are women and men, both young and old, who have vowed to do better than their parents and their parents' parents. They are Caucasian, African-American, Indian, Asian, Latino, and more; born in America or on foreign soil. They are my neighbors and friends, and people I care deeply about.
I wanted to say more to those two students, but all I could add was, "We need to give him a chance."
So I'm telling you, that despite my reservations, I'm willing to give you a chance. Of course, I don't have much choice, but I'm also willing to give you a chance because I believe in the inherent goodness of people. I believe that much of the country is filled with tolerant, kind, open-minded people. I believe that if a large percentage of the American public (I will not say majority, as Clinton has, indeed, won the popular vote with neither of you securing a majority) sought to put you in office, then maybe, you will do good by those people.
Just don't forget who those American people are.
Based on my feelings this morning, I could have lambasted you, thrown vitriolic words your way, or written a letter infused with hatred. But I didn't. I have hope that you'll indeed do as you say and try your best to unite this incredibly divided country. And even though I happen to believe that our country, right now, is doing pretty well, I even have hope that we'll come out better on the other side because we can always strive for something better.
Strive for something better, Mr. Trump. I'm counting on you to do so.