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Dear President Trump,

by Elijah Matson about a year ago in president
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(An open letter to a lost man)

So, you wanted to be president, huh? How’d that work out??

Ya know, I’ve actually followed your life for a while now, but only because it has been entirely unavoidable. Your name is everywhere. The first time I became aware of Trump in my memory was when it was painted on the side of a plane I was flying on from LaGuardia to Logan. There was a flight every day from New York to Boston then, maybe even several. The tickets were cheap, dad said, otherwise he would’ve avoided it because of something he knew about the realty business in New York and something about the practices of the Trump family. Yada-yada-yada, I was too young to care, I was off to the Cape to see my Baba, but it was funny that the plane had your name on it. I thought about whether I would put my own name on the side of a plane if I went ahead and started an airline company in the future. I decided it was a bit much, really, even at 11. It would be weird to see MATSON on the side of a plane, but I admired the bravado. I thought you must be pretty successful and important of a guy.

I kind of lived in New York City those days and the years that followed. But you know how it is with us native New Yorkers -- we’re always getting out of town! To be from the city meant that your whole goal was to get out of the city as much as possible, and that’s why my dad worked so hard and so long, so we could go to our place in the country, and I could go off to boarding school in idyllic Vermont. But not you. You loved New York, it seemed. You were everywhere, and often graced the pages of the NY Post, in one form or another. Marla Maples, the parties and balls, tuxes and pompadours to delight us all, in ire, glee, or disgust, depending. I thought you to be someone to whom the world revolved around, and how much fun that must be. I so wanted to be popular in school, but you were popular in life! True, I did recognize the moral trade-off in such a venture, but isn’t popularity worth a bit of one’s integrity? Also, I guess you did leave NYC eventually, but did you want to, really? Sorry about the fall out there, by the way. You know, the district DA and state DA putting together cases against your campaign and the thing with the city on the contracts. Sucks!

Also, just to touch a familiar note, I used to frequent your casino quite often in Atlantic City even, the old Taj Mahal. See, in college, I learned to play texas hold ‘em and that room was pretty popular back in the day. It was a tough room, for sure, but it wasn’t far down the Garden State Throughway as you know and there was a certain regality to the place that I liked. Lots of gold. You felt important walking in and taking your seat before someone else tried to fleece you with a smile on their face and a wink in their eye. It felt very Trumpian. My memory is that I lost more than I won in those days, but I felt good about it because I was in the Taj. You made it that way. I was a happy and contented loser, feeling wiser for the journey, getting my pockets turned out in style. I was sorry to see that go, and even more surprised about the losses you suffered there. Did you feel like I did when it busted? A happy loser, made stronger by the journey of it all?? I suspect not.

After college, I got a master’s degree in Philosophy. I know, how worthless, right? Ontological idealism doesn’t pay the bills but is a lot of fun to think about. I wanted to mention this because you came up yet again when I wrote an essay about modern and up-and-coming philosophical theories. I chose Asshole Theory. Do you know it? Fascinating, really. Can’t remember the finer details, other than that it used you as an example, and stated that being an asshole is actually a desirable quality destined for success, and adoration of others (though only those that aren’t completely turned off by the arrogance of it all). There’s something cool about assholes, and everyone kind of wants to be one, without being one, ya know? They seem to get what they want because they’re entitled to it, and then be in control -- destined to rule the world! Hitch your ride to that coat-tail and hang on if ya want, if it seems like it’ll be the means to the end you want. You hadn’t even announced your candidacy for President yet when I encountered this by the way, but it was in the works. I’m quite sure the birth certificate thing on Obama you made a big deal about was around about that time; I was impressed by the assholeness of the venture and I will have you know that I included it in my essay. I got an A-, losing some points because I didn’t highlight the downside of the philosophy enough, namely that the asshole, in order to maintain the delusion of his greatness and entitlements, has to literally construct a new reality of his own to make the jig last and stand up to time. Critically speaking, asshole theory has limits because it is entirely based on perception, which is naturally a construct, that needs constant work and attention because it can be destroyed at any minute. The A- was a bit disappointing, to be honest, but it was fun to write.

I wasn’t all that surprised, frankly, to see you come down those escalators and announce your desire to be president 5 years ago. It fit in what I had gathered of you through my life, even though I never watched The Apprentice. Not even once. I’m not a big television guy, but I did see the highlights. I can understand the frustration at the ceiling you kept bumping up against. You wanted to be bigger, and what’s bigger than the leader of the free world? I was surprised when you got elected, but so were you, no? I was glued to the TV that whole night in disbelief and the look on your face when they went to the room where you were watching the returns was actually really interesting. Your kids were overjoyed, but you looked quite somber, uncomfortably surprised is how I remember it. When you went on the tour of the White House, graciously given by Obama, just days after the election no one there wanted you to win, you looked impressed and overwhelmed by the entire situation. I talked to friends about how you might rise to the office, despite the character you showed in the campaign when caught on live mics being your misogynist self. I think we were all hopeful; what choice did we have?

On day one of your presidency, we got the term ‘alternative reality’ which was actually really cool for me because by this point in my life I was teaching English at a high school and we were right in the middle of 1984! It was almost like you cued Kellyanne Conway just for me and my Seniors so we could do a whole thing about the construct of truth, how it is controlled, and why. You controlled the present, some, and so were trying to construct a future where more of the present could be controlled by you! Orwellian actions in real-time! The One America Network, and the general echo chamber you’ve created has been huge too, as that comports with how the media is used in 1984, and so many of my students have done such a fantastic job using your actions, words and deeds to show their understandings of the text, and the ability to apply they’re learning to the real world. It is a wonder.

It was really during the first year of your presidency that I began to worry about your general state of mind, to be quite honest with you. I was concerned about your relationship with your wife, how strained it appeared (we’ve all seen that hand slap that time, when you tried. The doghouse sucks, I know), and whether you actually had anyone at all who you felt you could be loved by. It is a basic need, and if we don’t have our needs met, all else fails, and you were pretty important. I often rely on my sons for that I’ve realized, being divorced and single, but do your kids even give you that? Maybe Ivanka, but she’s so busy, and, well, I realize I’m being a bit judgy, but conceited people have a hard time giving, in my experience. Frankly, your sons, who have always just been Beavis and Butthead in my mind, I can’t shake it I’m afraid, don’t really seem even capable of love, like their dad maybe. Too self-possessed. So who does that leave, Tiffany? Do you even acknowledge her as a daughter? She always seems left out. Pence? The revolving Cabinet members? Did you even ever get to know any of them on a personal level at all? It must have been very lonely these last four years.

When we got into the middle part, after Pruett turned the EPA into the EDA (for Destruction), despite the obvious signs of climate change that have ravaged us thorough storms and wildfires, to name a few problems only, and you pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, and then also Syria, to Russia’s delight, I was alarmed. When Charlottesville happened, matching the rise in hate crimes throughout our land, and black men kept getting shot by police and security guards, and you would side with the aggressors and haters, I worried about your karma. When you pushed aside a fellow leader at the NATO conference that time, in typical asshole fashion, and embarrassed us in the face of the world, I wondered how it would sit with you. See, I’ve learned that if you ignore these things, obvious mistakes that have ramifications, there’s this whole snowball effect. You just can’t move on and feel better about things until you’ve dealt with them, somehow. Faced up to the demons you’ve created. But, like a teenager avoiding his homework, you would go on to other things, constructing and deconstructing, giving my seniors something to write about, like the whole Ukrainian thing that led to the first impeachment. The deeper my more adventurous students got into that, the more upset they seemed to get. Can’t say I blamed them. Talk about a construct. Would’ve been killer if it worked though, huh? Literally.

Honestly, by the time the election came (finally, for both of us I think), and you tried to set up the cheating democrat scandal, isolating communities of color in the process, which was after a pandemic you also tried to reconstruct, only science and all, it seemed to me you were in way over your head and you weren’t even yourself anymore. I mean, do you think of yourself as human? Having human limitations? Being bound by the need to be fed, kept warm, and breathing? It does seem to me that obviously a part of you wants to go on being president, but isn’t that just the asshole part of you speaking? Isn’t this just to maintain the entitlement of your basic fundamental belief that you deserve more, are more special than anyone else? Because, and I’m not at all sure if you’ve discovered this, this is exactly the problem Donald. It is what led to last week and a second impeachment (tops on that by the way, well done!); you being entirely incapable of accepting yourself as human, and that is what makes me sad. You lost. It does not mean you are a loser, necessarily, only that the people of this country, most of them, would prefer someone else to be president. I, personally, would’ve gladly voted for an eggplant named Rosy other than you, and I really believe it is for your own good. If you are going to get out of this life alive Donald, the first step is to find some humility. If you don’t, expect to be humiliated.

I won’t like myself for it, but I will enjoy that.

Be best (at least she seems happier now),

Elijah Matson.


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Elijah Matson

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