A Letter to President Trump
Dear President Trump,
Congratulations on obtaining one of the most powerful positions in the entire world. A lot is in your hands now, and being an optimist, I’m going to hope for the best. I should start by introducing myself. My name is Vanessa Frances, and by all the means of your campaign, I fit the bill of what a perceived Trump supporter should look like.
I am a white girl. I was born into a family that has lived in the United States since the 1600s, with middle class working parents, and dreams of an America that is united, strong, and able to protect not just itself, but its allies. So yes, the statements above are true-- but they don’t define me. And Mr. President, they shouldn’t define you, either. You see, as you took office, you targeted a demographic a lot like mine. The “forgotten white people,” so to speak.
Those who live in the great mesh of the middle of the United States, who believe that in past elections, in all the social movements and change, they have been forgotten. It’s “their” country, after all, that’s been stepped on, right? So you took this idea and ran with it. Most people were able to forget that you grew up in a privileged household in New York, going to military academies and voting for the most part, as a Democrat. Still, you ran as a Republican, won the electoral college, and here we are. I want to make it clear that I’m not writing to argue on your election, Russian hacking, Democrat interference, “Crooked Hilary,” or anything along those lines. I haven’t gone to a protest asking you to step down, because I feel that since you were elected, you are owed some kind of respect. I am not here to ask you to take down your Twitter page and focus on being a president, nor am I here to tell you all of the things I like or dislike about you.
President Trump, the America you are trying to recreate, does not (and should not) exist anymore. I understand your claims about those in the central United States who have been ignored; I understand that “the common man” who has struggled for the past eight years under a Democratic president pushing social changes and environmental protection policies that have cost him his job. Yes, I understand your claims about the need for a stronger border protection and patrol, as the amount of illegal immigrants in this country puts a strain on its citizens. And yes, I understand why in an economics sense, allowing two additional pipelines to come into the United States from Canada is a good idea.
However, Mr. President, you have forgotten that not all of us in this group of “forgotten white people” feel the same way. In the executive actions you’ve taken in the past few days, you have begun to divide us even further.
In your Inaugural Address, you made mention of the phrase “America First.” But the key to being a successful nation lies in the cooperation and understanding of people both domestic and abroad. We cannot afford to become a selfish country. We cannot allow ourselves to sit behind a wall and block the whole world out. We cannot be OK with building oil pipelines that stretch across lands that are sacred to the men and women that were here long before you and I even set foot on this land. We cannot choose to ignore that 2016 was the hottest year on record and continue to destroy the Earth for capital gain. We cannot refuse to trade or interact or understand cultures simply because they are different than ours, simply because we don’t want to see it or because we believe that we are the only ones that can be right.
We, as a nation, and you as the president, have to understand that making the world better doesn’t start with more capital, more infrastructure, and more of everything else. It stems from seeing the issues like white privilege, environmental degradation, and women’s rights. Unfiltered, raw, and just as brutal as they are. We cannot understand anything if we don’t see it in its entirety, just as nothing will change for this nation if you do not remember that you are in a country you lost the popular vote for and your current agenda seems to offer up reasons why you did.
Here is where your choice resides, Mr. President. The choice to listen, understand, and look at all sides of the story, instead of just your own personal one. Listen to the people that have cried out for change in the streets of Washington, and listen to those crying out of the past begging this great nation not to make the same mistakes. They’re all waiting, they’re all watching. And they will not be silent if you fall short. Neither will I.
Vanessa Frances, 18
Vanessa is an active member of Project Heal, the editor of The Millennial Times digital newspaper, and founder of The Ophelia.