An Open Letter To Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Dear Mr. Trump:

By the time you read this letter, delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio will have voted to make you the party's nominee as the 45th president of the United States. I'm sure that delegates offended by your callous and personal attacks against your primary opponents will have forgiven your unsavory comments, and you will leave Cleveland with a unanimous endorsement that will help immensely with fundraising.

Of course, media executives, producers, and talk show hosts who salivate over ratings will spend the ensuing days, weeks, and months parsing every comment made by you and your surrogates, as well as those on the opposite side of the political aisle. Network and cable stations, national and local newspapers, social media platforms and bloggers, among others, will serve up heaping plates of political analysis and poll interpretations to eager listeners who never seem to sleep. When I see media hosts and pundits interviewing each other, once again, I know it's time to mute or change the channel.

As a close observer of political communications, I must admit that I have been both impressed and chagrined by your political rhetoric. I'm impressed by your ability to convey your message and to control the conversation, regardless of the questions you're asked, or the contradictions inherent in your responses. I'm chagrined because many of your responses appear to incite fear, while pitting one group of Americans against another. I'm chagrined because I don't feel that your political discourse is consistent with the values or the decorum adhered to by candidates across the political landscape. In reminding yourself and the electorate of just how smart you are, I believe it detracts considerably from that intellect when you portray others as dumb.

At a glance your campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, has a ring that incites pride and patriotism among your supporters. On the other hand, for many of us black baby boomers it invokes an era when America was racially segregated and all aspects of our lives, from birth to death, were controlled by rich white men. And yet to others, America was at its most significant period of greatness during the Cold War era when its military dominance and industrial prowess manifested itself worldwide.

Exactly what are the markers of greatness to which you refer: The Ozzie and Harriet fantasy where it was acceptable for women to be seen but not heard, or the racialized society where discrimination in education, employment, housing, and voting were rampant? Perhaps you're talking about an era with which most Americans are not familiar. Since you aspire to be a president for all Americans, and in the interest of full disclosure, I pray you'll take time to articulate with care what you consider to be the key dimensions of a Great America.

As baby boomer with a history of voting for those candidates most likely to pursue a political agenda aligned with my views and values, rather than simply voting along party lines, I want to share with you 10 attributes which I believe define American greatness. It is my hope that you, as a very smart candidate, and I, as a very astute voter and patriot, can find common ground on American Greatness and recommit ourselves to making it a reality, and not simply rhetoric.

10 Attributes of American Greatness:

1.The structural barriers that limit P-16 access to high quality education for racially and economically disenfranchised people have been acknowledged and addressed;
2. Support for a livable wage has precedence over a minimum wage;
3.The ability to vote is made easier, not harder;
4.High quality healthcare and housing are available to everyone, irrespective of their zip code, job status or financial assets;
5 .Diversity is celebrated as an asset, not a liability;
6 Women, not male-dominated legislative bodies, will be able to make their own choices about reproductive health;
7.Our political prowess in the world will be measured by our ability to be enforcers of peace rather than purveyors of war, and our care for the environment will take precedence over making a buck;
8. Policies and procedures in place to welcome new citizens while keeping our homeland safe will have precedence over keeping immigrants out;
9. The interests and needs of the country we all love will take precedence over partisan politics;
10.The right to bear arms is not accorded greater significance than the right to a life free from death or the effects of gun violence.

Although far from perfect, America is already a great country. Thus, it would help immensely if you would pause long enough to tell the American voters exactly what you mean by the slogan, "Let's Make America Great Again." Just because America was great for you and your wealthy friends in some bygone era doesn't mean it was great for large numbers of the men and women whose support you seek.

Finally, Mr. Trump, as you contemplate making American great again, I encourage you to reflect on the words of a great American poet, Langston Hughes, in his classic poem, "I Dream A World":

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its path adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!


Charlie Nelms
American Voter