Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear President-Elect Trump,

I was brought up to respect the office of President of the United States. As a voting rights activist, I deeply respect and revere the opportunity we have as Americans, that has come as a result of great service and sacrifice, to exercise our most sacred civic duty and choose who represents us in government. I congratulate you on being elected to the highest office in our nation.

In your election night speech, you said, “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can unify our great country.”

I did not support you in this election. Today, I am taking you at your word.

A transgender teenager I’m connected to on social media committed suicide at 4 AM Wednesday morning. One of my best friends went to school on Wednesday where other students were walking up to one of his Muslim classmates saying they hope he gets deported. I got another message from another friend saying that a boy grabbed a fellow student’s crotch while other boys laughed and shouted, “Make America great again.” Many kids and teenagers are very scared right now all over America, and many of their parents are scared for them. I myself am scared for my safety and my future.

While I do respect the office of President of the United States, I do not respect positions and attitudes that are violent, sexist, racist, bigoted toward the LGBTQ+ community, or discriminatory based on religion or national origin. The actions some people have chosen that result from these positions and attitudes are unacceptable and have no place in a great America. On this, I hope we can agree.

I would like to offer you some guidance and help today in unifying our great country, sir. I would like to invite you to join with me in offering the leadership our nation needs right now. This starts with denouncing, very vocally and prominently, the positions and attitudes that threaten the equality, well-being, security, and lives of our fellow citizens, especially our children and teenagers.

I know firsthand that the political world is tough. I know how hard it is to personally struggle through feelings and attitudes that aren’t in the best interest of our country or its people. I know that saying what you know will be attention-getting or well-received by your audience is easy, but digging down after deep reflection of what’s right is much harder. The past several hours have been incredibly hard for me. My audience would probably much rather read some very different words from me right now. But my country needs me now, and sir, it needs you too.

I would also like to let you, and anyone reading this, to know that it is in large part because of Hillary Clinton I am able to look forward today. It is because of her leadership and what I’ve learned while working on this campaign that I am able to put my country first today. I hope that, in your desire to unify our country, you can look past the ways in which you might differ with Secretary Clinton on policy and look to some of her outstanding examples of inclusive leadership that have, and continue to, offer hope to millions of us.

I am not religious, but I believe in forgiveness and redemption. I believe that people have the ability to change. I believe now that the time for campaigning is over and the time for governing nears, you can look at some of the rhetoric that has led to my friends reaching out to me in fear, anger, and despair and reflect on the kind of leadership these young people need from you right now. Your silence and failure to act in the face of this turmoil is complicity.

I promise you this. Moving forward, I will do my best to focus on the words you use and actions you take from this day forth and not dwell on the words and actions of the past. I promise to help my President and First Lady in any efforts to encourage our young people to actively participate in our democracy in positive ways. I’m sure there will be times when we do not agree on policy, but it is my hope that we move through the next four years agreeing on what constitutes common decency and the importance of providing positive leadership for our young people. I also promise you that I will do my duty as a citizen to continue to speak up for the young people of this country and fight for their freedom, equality, and opportunities and I will hold my lawmakers accountable for their words and actions. In the times my lawmakers fail to step up, I will stand up.

The sun has come up in the morning. Whether the view out of our windows is a shining city on a hill or the burning rubble of destruction is up to both of us, I think. You reached out for help. I am willing to help. I choose this thing not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

Forward Together,

Madison Kimrey  

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