Eric Karjaluoto

Dear Mr. Trump,

You did it. In spite of all the blunders, lies, and scandals, you did it. You didn’t do it gracefully. You probably didn’t do it fairly. Even so, you did it. You won the game. You showed us all. You’re the top dog.

This leads to a rather apropos segue: the notion of a dog chasing a car. One wonders what might happen if he actually caught his prey. What happens after that moment of elation passes? You must know this feeling all too well. You won the biggest game in the land—but are you prepared for the “prize”?

I’m no political genius. I’m not a media mogul. Heck, I’m not even an American. But even a commoner like me realizes that some jobs are hard. In a few days, you’ll have perhaps the hardest one of all. If I were in your shoes, I’d be cramming like the night before midterms. The situations, interests, and even names you need to know are staggering. Your background in entertainment hasn’t prepared you for this.

You don’t seem concerned, though. Instead, you’re on Twitter (which, I admit can be fun). You congratulate yourself. You get angry when comedians lampoon you. You state your case as though you need the public’s approval. For another two years, though, this doesn’t matter. The campaign is over. Now, there’s work to do. This isn’t glamorous work. It’s ugly, messy, and complicated. You’ll need to make hard decisions. Regardless of how well you make these choices, some will hate you for them.

We all procrastinate when faced with an unpleasant task. That’s a freedom some of us have, but you do not. You volunteered to take your country (and, in a respect, the rest of the world) forward. It’s time to put down the smartphone. You must instead attend to bigger matters. I know those meetings and discussions are probably tedious. They’re a part of your new job, though.

People like me are scared of you. This isn’t because we’re the left-wing lunatics your supporters seem to believe. In fact, for people like me, this was never about left versus right. As a Canadian, I’ve voted for different parties and ideologies. In each case, I asked myself who would be best for our country. I’ll readily vote for a conservative leader, should he/she represent the most sensible path forward.

What concerns people like me isn’t whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. Instead, it’s that you treat important matters as though they’re trivial. You simplify complex discussions so they fit your narrative. You trample others when they voice opposition. Everything you do seems to be about how you get your way.

I suppose that’s the great irony of the democratic system. The characteristics required to win an election are at odds with those required to lead a nation. The first part you mastered. You are an icon. Your methods are fascinating. Future generations will study your win. They will observe how you tapped into a powerful undercurrent everyone else missed. For this, you have our awe. Now comes the second—much more challenging—part.

As a child, I wondered how anyone could lead a country. How could anyone be that smart? I figured you’d need to know pretty much everything to take on that job. Later, I realized that such knowledge wasn’t necessary. In fact, it was inconceivable for one person to have it. Instead, such a person would surround him/herself with intelligent, and knowledgable, people. The leader’s job was to listen, deliberate, and then make good decisions. These would demand steadiness, restraint, and benevolence. In a word: wisdom.

You’ve made a life out of promoting yourself—and you’ve done so well. The question you must now ask yourself, is how you want history to remember you. Will you be the shrewd campaigner who was unfit to lead? Will you be a puppet who submitted to its handler? Or, will you be the surprise we never saw coming?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it seems like a star can only bask in his/her own light for so long. At some point, they need to commit themselves to something bigger. I know… I know… Ghandi had great fashion sense. Mandela had that “bad boy” rap. Lincoln had that freaky-deaky beard. But, you know what? Each of them fought for something much bigger than his own notoriety.

I implore you to be the president no one expects you to be. Of course, you may choose not to. You could turn out to be the tyrant so many fear you to be. In either circumstance, you have matters to attend to. So, at least stop acting like this is a game.

Get off Twitter. Cut out the shenanigans. Cast the spectacle aside. (In two years, you can once again don those tacky red hats.) You ran your campaign like a half-time show, but your current role is no joke. Your nation is tearing itself apart. Domestic firearm fatalities are out-of-control. Health care, fair pay, and quality of life elude many of those who voted for you. Syria is collapsing. North Korea is volatile. The biosphere is in jeopardy. Real human lives are on the line.

Mr Trump, you’ve got the whole world in your hands. This includes everyone who didn’t vote for you. It also includes those of us who couldn’t vote against you. Yes, we’re scared—and rightfully so. You’ve said things that are patently false, inflammatory, and unconscionable. When people say, “not my president,” they aren’t being sore losers. They’re opposing an agenda that could do irrevocable damage.

The task ahead of you will require Herculean strength to accomplish. Few of us believe you’re up for the task. May you prove us wrong.

Sign up to receive new articles by email: