Dear President Trump,
Since reading Richard Cohen’s piece in the WP yesterday that unpacks why your base adores you, I’ve found myself thinking about my first boss out of college. In most ways, this boss was about as unlike you as possible. He was a brilliant, highly regarded academic who helped launch many successful careers. However, and this is where you two are alike, this boss was mean. Every week during lab meetings, instead of focusing on the science, Dr. Boss alternated between viciously tearing his colleagues apart and building himself, and his lab, up. I tried a few times to slyly redirect the rants, but it never worked. The RA’s never discussed what was happening so I don’t know if they were bothered like I was, but it was sickening to watch some of them egg him on or cozy up to him in smarmy ways. Eventually I consulted the second in charge scientist to ask if there was anything that could be done to stop the cruel (and exceedingly inappropriate) gossip. Second in Charge sadly shook his head and said, no, he’s Dr. Boss, he brings in the money, and if you cross him he will come after you. It was a miserable 18 months.
We just passed your 18-month mark and even though I don’t have to sit in meetings with you while you trash people, it’s certainly been a miserable time. I wish I could leave. Actually, I wish you would leave.
But back to Mr. Cohen’s WP editorial – his premise is that your base is willing to put up with all your untoward behavior (e.g., pussy grabbing, adultery, lying, courting despots, loving Russian Presidents, separating families, calling other countries ‘shitholes,’ starting trade wars) because….. drum roll….. you hate the right people. You hate the educated liberal elites who look down on them, the immigrants who are taking their jobs, and the unpatriotic athletes who won’t show respect for their flag. Your base rallies around your hate. If you hate who they hate, they love you. It doesn’t hurt that you fawn over them and tell them they are smart and competent and that you are looking out for them and will be their champion. It’s a powerfully intoxicating formula teetering between explicit validation and implicit warning (you are valued and on my team as long as….).
May we be safe from those who lead with hate.
May we be willing to stand up to leaders who lead with hate.
May we insist that our leaders lead in ways that are healthy for everyone.
May our leaders be courageous and lead with love.