Letter to Donald Trump

A new citizen holds an American flag and naturalization papers. Photo by Callen Harty.

A new citizen holds an American flag and naturalization papers. Photo by Callen Harty.

Dear Mr. Trump,

I saw a very sad story about you in the newspaper today and wanted to offer my condolences about your tragic history. I had made assumptions about you that were clearly wrong. After reading that article I now find it so difficult to believe that you were able to create such a magnificent empire with only a one million dollar loan from your wealthy father. I had assumed that you were a man of privilege and that your father gave you whatever money you needed to get your life started and to keep it going. I could not have imagined that he would only loan you money rather than giving it to you outright and that even then the loan was not for an unlimited amount but a measly million dollars. How did you ever survive? I have a hard time imagining it.

Then again, survival is an amazing thing in this world. It just occurred to me that as amazing as your success has been others have somehow survived on even less than your tiny million dollar startup loan. In fact, my father never gave me a loan at all because he died when I was only two years old so I grew up in a lower middle class single parent family with a mother who barely had a million pennies let alone a million dollars. Like you she struggled and worked hard to provide for her children and to create her own empire. Granted, her empire was a bit smaller than yours–a three-bedroom house that took her a little more than a dozen years to pay off–because she really started with pretty close to nothing. However, when she passes away my brothers and sisters and I will be set for life–well, maybe not life unless it’s a lot shorter than I hope, but at least a few months–because of the wealth she accumulated over the years. Like you she had a head for finances. She just didn’t get to start with as much or I’m sure she would have had an empire as large as the Trump fortune by now.

I’ve had friends, too, who have shown that same Trump spirit, who have survived disasters like losing jobs, eyes, legs, or minds with a can-do attitude. I know if their dads had given them a million dollars it would have helped with medical bills and recovery, but then again they wouldn’t have learned the hard lessons that you’ve learned through your intense struggles to create your own wealth from the small loan your father provided.

I’m sure you’ve paid your father back the way I paid my mother the several $100 loans she gave me when I was just starting out. If nothing else you paid him back by making him proud of you for the way you created something out of (almost) literally nothing. Just like me and my mom. I think I’m starting to love you, Donald.

I really would like to be more like you but I never learned financial responsibility by being forced to create my own life the way your father made you do it. As a result, instead of investing and growing wealth I tend to spend money almost as quickly as I get it. I often take friends to dinner or coffee, donate to causes that are meaningful to me, and even donate money to politicians like you who show empathy and concern for others and who know what it’s like to be destitute and struggling just to live day to day.

I would wish you success in everything you do, but I can see that you don’t need my support. You’re a self-made man. Maybe, instead of sending you money for your campaign I’ll keep it and try to make it grow some–just like you did–or maybe, because I do tend to spend it as I get it, maybe I’ll donate it to a candidate who appears to need it a little bit more.

Thank you again for your honesty in the article. I appreciate your humility and humble beginnings. It makes me feel much more like you truly understand the plight of the have-nots that populate my family and circle of friends. It makes me feel like you get the immigrants who come here to live the American dream and to better their lives. It makes me feel like there is no 99% or 1%, but that we’re all part of the 100%. God bless you.

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About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Both are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he has been an actor, writer, and director since 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events.
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