Nov. 13, 2016
To: Donald J. Trump
From: John Thomas Wood
I am a white, retired male who voted for Hillary Clinton for President. I am one of those many, many people who are angry at the process of the elections and at the job the so-called Washington establishment has been doing, especially Congress.
I am writing you to try and influence your thinking and behavior.
I’ve got lots of opinions about issues: climate change, fracking, pipelines, campaign reform, rights for minorities, security, the police and minorities, cyber-security, Supreme Court appointments, health care. It’s a pretty long list. But I am not writing you about issues. I want to talk about personal qualities and values. I believe these are foundational for choices we make on issues.
This letter may sound arrogant. Perhaps you can accept that. It’s the best way for me to get my wishes across in a direct way.
Authenticity is one of the qualities people admire most in public figures and you apparently scored high on that with your followers. I hope you can balance your habit of being spontaneous and honest in your comments about others with a sense of empathy and compassion for those you’re talking about. Surely the presidency will humble you and that may make for a nice balance for ‘telling it like it is.”
I mentioned compassion. I hope it’s something you consciously cultivate. It is perhaps the single most quality and practice that the world needs now. It is something a great leader must have; without it he cannot truly relate to the people he leads and serves.
Please dedicate yourself to continual learning. If you see that asking questions and truly learning about the people and the issues that will surround you, you will begin to see learning as an act of leadership in itself and you will emerge from conversations with a new sense of respect.
I feel certain that you want to be a great President. I also think you are heavily invested in power. You can consciously invest in a study of power and discover that you can use your considerable personal power to collaborate, nurture others and join in synergetic efforts. You do not have to compete in order to succeed, either at a personal level or politically.
I hope your surround yourself with people who will both support you and challenge you. Choose carefully for individuals who value people over politics and know, that in the long run, leading this country is not about winning and losing. It is about doing things together. Any organization, including the federal government, is a series of relationships, a community of people working together and relating openly with each other.
Leadership, in my view, is the shaping of power, my own and others. That means I help the others around me bloom.
To realize our goals as a nation we must have shared values and priorities, an open, authentic way of communicating and solving conflicts, an interdependency where diversity of every kind is celebrated as a strength and the belief that reaching our goals will be beneficial to everyone involved.
Ask for help, especially from women. You will not be able to succeed alone. I know hundreds of people who can help you succeed, if you ask.
I am writing this not for you and not for myself but for my grandchildren and millions of other young people who will be living in the social and physical environment that you and your administration will help create.
Finally, you have been chosen by an electoral college representing half of the registered voters in the United States. As you know, nearly half of the country did not vote. Our country, as all democracies, depends on informed participation to be healthy. Your policies and your behavior will do a tremendous amount to either alienating people or bringing them back into the social/political process.
Thank you for your valuable attention.