An expatriated American writes to the president
Dear President @realDonaldTrump,
It’s not like we’ve ever been pen-pals, but writing letters is a lost art and I’m fond of lost causes. Remember pen-pals, before the Twitternet came along? School kids from around the world exchanging old-fashioned pieces of paper with their Sunday best cursive, learning about other cultures? Nowadays I suppose the NSA would be steaming the envelopes open.
When I moved to New York City upon my own declaration of independence, my first job was at one of the buildings you owned. Specifically, I manned the information desk of a bookstore that rented space in the ground floor of your fancy hotel at Grand Central Station.
Being stationed near the exit, sometimes I found myself chasing shoplifters out the door and down 42nd Street. The most popular book stolen? The Bible, hands down.
Later, I interned at The Village Voice, which tore into you on a regular basis. All of which is to say, you’ve been on my radar for a long time. (The Voice, by the way, was an alternative weekly beloved of lefties, of which I considered myself one since reading Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” in my formative years.)
When you won, much to the surprise of everybody but Ann Coulter and Lisa Simpson, I didn’t join #theresistance or proclaim you were #notmypresident; the latter because plainly, as an American citizen despite taking up residence with the redcoats, short of seceding and perhaps forming my own republic, I am. Nor do I see Putin under the bed.
That sound you hear is my lefty credentials being yanked away.
Although I didn’t vote for you, I was secretly glad Hillary had lost (see what I did there?). Your victory was, at its most basic, validation of the notion that we are given a choice on election day — yea democracy. There was undeniable pleasure in witnessing so much of the electorate choose not to swallow what the enlightened media/celebrity complex was trying to force feed them.
This admission alone should be enough to get me tossed out of most fashionable venues as if I were an honorary member of your administration.
I hoped you would give the system a much needed shake up. I believed that the status quo represented by your opponent was worse than the best of what you had to offer, should it come to pass.
Your apparent clownishness didn’t particularly vex me. “Presidentialness” is nice, but far too often a veneer that somehow makes horrible policies seem OK.
I’d voted for Clinton 1.0 and Obama (and resisted Bush and Blair’s march of folly into war). Both had soured my optimism. You were a roll of the dice which, while admittedly too dicey for me even in the privacy of a voting booth, gave me empathy with your supporters who wanted a better America and felt you were the one to help deliver it.
Well, that was then. We the people have have ended up with, at best, more of the same — call it our Groundhog Day Manifest Destiny. I’ll leave cataloguing what’s worse to someone less jaded. We do happen to agree that there are virtues in “protectionism,” though powertweeting that America gets a raw deal anywhere on earth is a stretch; if you’ll excuse comparison with that other empire, it’s like Darth Vader complaining about mosquitoes on Tatooine.
I have a dream that, as in that long ago episode of Dallas, the current season of our national discontent really was all imagined: Bernie Sanders actually put his hand on that Bible. He’s still not my dreamboat candidate, but was the best on offer at the time, much like the Labour party’s Jeremy Corbyn for us dreamers here.
Admit it, you’d be happier if you weren’t in that oval (from Latin ovum, or egg — that thing you need to crack to make an omelette), as would your wife. Granted, Hillary still would be in a bad mood.
I’ll be at the protests in London later this month. There are a lot of people mad you’re visiting; some will be expats, and maybe we can compare notes. Given that America itself got started with a bloody great protest, marking the occasion in this way almost seems patriotic. At least if I were your press secretary, that’s how I’d spin it. Just don’t look too closely at what they’re waving.
PS. I have over 50 million followers, too, but for some reason the odometer rolled over, so it shows considerably fewer #believeitornot
is a former Tiffin
resident who has lived in England for 21 years.