By Stephania Varalli
Dear Mr. President,
I started writing this letter while watching the election unfold, as states began to flip in your favour, as it became clear that the polls weren’t telling the whole story, that the pundits had miscalculated the odds, and that the democratic machine had underestimated both you and your supporters.
I spent the night and the following morning passing through the stages of grief — a textbook path of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression — until finally landing on acceptance. You, Donald Trump, will be the next President of the United States.
Ultimately, I want to believe that it was your message of change that enabled you to be elected. Not that it was wrapped in nativism, bigotry, misogyny, and racism. Not a triumph of showmanship and sound-bite promises (Build that wall! Lock her up!) over preparedness and thought-out policies. Not a reaction to the fear tactics you expertly employed. Not a reflection of unreadiness for a female leader, a campaign that showed all the markers of gender inequality (from scrutiny over her voice to her wardrobe), just another example of a qualified woman losing out to a less-qualified man.
But even if it was your anti-establishment rhetoric that ultimately won you the presidency, it would be dangerous and irresponsible to ignore the fact that many of your supporters voted for you because of these negative reasons — and the rest voted for you in spite of them.
I have made it no secret that I believe your campaign has already had a negative impact on gender equality. I am hopeful in your term you will work to support women’s advancement, rather than set it back. In your victory speech, you pledged “to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.” Let this be the one election promise that you keep.
Surround yourself with experts that represent the mosaic of your nation. Stop complaining about political correctness and start creating an inclusive culture of decent human beings, and persist until speaking your mind doesn’t mean spouting discrimination. Recognize that women are not objects, that their greatest value is not based on a physical ranking out of ten, and that treating them as such ignores the capabilities and rights of half your population. Know that “locker room talk” is not appropriate, ever, never ever ever, even if it’s confined to the locker room.
Most of all, know that the world is watching. People of every race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and age, including the boys and girls that will go on to determine what America will become as a nation. As a Canadian, your time in office will impact me differently than your fellow Americans, but there is no denying that your Presidency extends beyond your borders.
After this campaign, after this election, I now see that there are deep-seated issues in your country that many failed to recognize and that need to be fixed. I reject the notion of making America great again — but there is plenty of room to make it better.