Out of the Blue: An open letter to Donald Trump (opinion)
November 18, 2016
Dear Mr. Trump: It seems congratulations are in order. I don't know if you read many North Tahoe papers, but I've been contributing pieces about galvanizing Democratic support for both national races and local issues for a while now.
There have been a few readers who pooh-pooh my left-leaning ideology, but for the most part, response to these articles and the organization I represent (North Tahoe Democrats!) has been outstanding.
Our community outreach has been a big success: The majority of the candidates and causes we championed ended up going all the way.
Except the big one.
Many of us who attended an election night viewing party only semi-jokingly refer to the affair after the fact as a wake. Some NTDs were bright-eyed and optimistic, convinced it was a tight race, and that it might take until midnight to give Hillary the edge. Others felt the boat start to take on water once you won Florida. In any case, we all woke up to news of your last-minute surge of voter turnout, and now you are our president-elect.
Here's a shocker for you: as a true blue liberal, I have reservations about this. I recognize that campaigns are races, and in races there are winners and losers, and all who participate in such endeavors should be aware that sometimes you win the day and other times you lose in front of your home crowd. Again, as a life-long Democrat, I'm no stranger to losing political battles.
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But you have said and done things during your campaign that have left me and many of my fellow Democrats rattled. Yours is even a unique status within the Republican mainframe — some of these vitriolic statements and questionable teammates you've selected have offended not only libs, but many within the GOP, as well.
And it's still too early for us to make peace with what you have up your sleeve because your perspectives on every hot-button issue in global and domestic affairs change on a dime. When protests began after your victory, you referred to them as "unfair." This sentiment was replaced two hours later with an opposite assessment: "I love it!" So, which is it?
Just Sunday night, you were interviewed by Leslie Stahl and when asked about marriage equality, you cited it as being 'settled'. This one's a major concern for many of us, since you spent a lot of air time during your campaign implying that this was very much an in-play issue, and that your presidency might involve taking a swipe at it. But this 'settling' offers no viable solace for us. If you've changed your mind before, you'll probably change it again.
There were excellent takeaways from Election 2016 (Catherine Cortez Masto, background checks for guns, legalized marijuana), but the most significant for me personally has to do with you directly. After scanning final results, I couldn't do it anymore. I turned off the TV.
I'm not moving to Canada. I'm not comfortable with my colleagues who brandish 'Not My President' buttons: if you won fair and square, that's that. While it's a challenge, I strive to find grace within concession. That's a lesson I learned from your opponent.
Now that the election's behind me, I'm hiking more and getting stoked about snow season. I'm painting my kitchen. I'm thinking about what's next. I have not abandoned my Dems, but our quest has changed shape significantly, and we need to recalculate what our work in the future will entail before we continue doing good in our community and our planet at large.
NTDs aren't going away (we're not even taking a nap!), but your victory last week was a tectonic, shattering surprise I haven't figured out how to process. Until that epiphany arrives, Democrats will regather, appropriate our focus, and roll up our sleeves to fight another day.
Let me end by saying I agree with Mr. Obama that if you do well as a president, we'll do well as a country. You have not been given a blank check as commander-in-chief, but in a haze of hippie hope, I have faith that the next four years will find us indeed stronger together.
This isn't me looking the other way — we Democrats will storm into action if threats to our lives, liberties, or pursuits of happiness are put into jeopardy in any way — but I personally need to be hopeful that your presidency will be steady and fair in order to just be able to sleep at night.
So, even though part of me can't quite believe I'm about to type it, as a Democratic voter in this country we share, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt. I hope you don't let us down. Good luck.
Mike Restaino is a writer and filmmaker based out of Incline Village. He is also a Vice Chair of the North Tahoe Democrats. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.