Thursday, December 15, 2016


Open letter to my friends who voted for Donald Trump

Dear friends:

First of all, I will still cherish you as a friend even though I am fearful that you made a fateful decision when you cast your ballot for Donald Trump to be our 45th President. The whole long election campaign has been woefully short in civility and I will not contribute to it. Let’s face it, The People have spoken and it is a fait accompli: Donald J. Trump will be our next President and, for all of our sake, we should hope for him to be successful in the much loftier office than the one he has in the Trump Tower.

Second, I grant you that you did not have a palatable choice. This was a rare occasion where I was content not having to make the choice, as I have no vote as a permanent resident in the USA. Democrats apparently were hell bent to give Hillary a second chance after she had been unceremoniously upstaged in 2008 by Barack Obama; but who was looking forward to bringing the Clintons back into the White House with all the ballast they were carrying? The only thing she had going for her was the unwavering support of the Democratic establishment and being seen as ‘the lesser of two evils’ by a large number of people.

Third, you had good reasons to be looking in a previously unexplored direction because eight years of Bush and eight years of Obama, had done nothing but run up the national debt without solving any of America’s existential challenges. But Donald Trump? Really?

Have you noticed how easily and unapologetically he switches opinion about people and issues? Most remarkably, after vilifying President Obama all through the election campaign, he meets with Obama in the Oval Office much longer than planned and then he calls the man whose nationality and faith he had openly questioned ‘a good man’ and he vows that he will continue to seek his counsel (which he apparently has done even though it is unclear if he has heeded any such counsel.) Similarly, Trump in a Sixty Minutes interview called Hillary Clinton, the person he and you loathed, ‘very strong and very smart’.

After calling Paul Ryan ‘a weak and very ineffective leader’ and refusing to endorse him in the Wisconsin GOP Primary, he now compares the speaker to ‘fine wine’, adding ‘every day I appreciate his genius more and more’.

Mitt Romney is a different case. We know that Trump called him ‘a miserably failed candidate’ during the campaign but then, while looking for a Secretary of State, invited him twice to the Trump Tower. Was that a change of heart or just a revengeful humiliation knowing full well that he would pick someone else for the job?

A change of heart can be a sign of mental agility and willingness to adjust to changing circumstances, but in Trump’s case it looks more like a case of deception: make you believe one thing while carefully hiding the true intent or judgment. The bottom-line is: do you really know what you will get from Donald Trump, the man you voted into the White House?

For the sake of the country, I hope that he will change his mind (or reveal his true intentions in contrast with his campaign slogans) and that you will find yourself led down the primrose path once more if you voted for him based on his campaign rhetoric:
1.       Let’s hope that the three generals in his cabinet and Rex Tillerson will keep him from breaking up the Western Alliance by giving up on NATO and cozying up with Putin.
2.       Let’s hope that he will not wreck the US economy by deporting all undocumented immigrants and withdrawing from NAFTA or any other trade agreements and initiatives that integrate the US economy with the global economy and allow the US to play a leadership role in international relations.
3.       Let’s hope that he will not kill promising new technology, jeopardizing the jobs in upstarts and green energy sectors that can diversify our energy sources, in order to deliver on his campaign promise to keep West Virginia coals miners at work.
4.       Let’s hope that he will drop his belligerent tone towards China and just focus on building inherent American strength in its economy and its social structure. Let’s beat the Chinese on merit not on bluff and bluster.
5.       Let’s hope that he will change his mind on withdrawing from the multinational agreement with Iran on nuclear power and just focus on pressing back on Iran in places where that country interferes with a peaceful world order.

The Romans had a saying that so much fits the mold here: ‘Mundus vult decipi, decipiatur ergo’. Loosely translated it means that ‘If you wish to be deceived into believing what you want to believe, then be deceived.’

Let me quote you from a recently released non-fiction book by Volker Ullrich:
‘How did this most unlikely pretender to high state office assume complete control of a once democratic country? By using an arsenal of demagogic tools (lies, fake promises, theatrical rallies, mantra like phrases) to exploit a constellation of crises, including economic woes, unemployment and political dysfunction.’        
Sounds familiar? No, Ullrich did not write a prospective history of the Trump era. He is German and wrote about Germany in the 20th century. But the parallels are striking and menacing.

Congratulations. You got your wish and you got the president you voted for. Let’s hope he will bely most all of the positions and promises that got him elected.