An Open Letter to President Donald Trump
Please take your own advice.
Posted Nov 14, 2020
Dear President Trump,
Since the TV networks called the 2020 American presidential election last week and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris gave their acceptance speeches some pundits and people who didn't vote for you have criticized you for remaining silent and not conceding.
I don't think they have a clue about what you are going through.
"I don't like being defeated," you said in Life Magazine in 1989. Defeat can be enormously painful; sometimes devastating. It can demolish the foundations of our world and make us feel humiliated and enraged.
In your book, The Art of the Deal, you said that the most important influence on you growing up was your father, Fred Trump, and that he was "strong and tough as hell...and an unbelievably demanding taskmaster." "That's why I am so screwed up," you wrote in Think Big in 2007, "because I had a father who pushed me pretty hard." I wonder if it was harder than most of us can imagine.
Your niece, Dr. Mary Trump, wrote in her book, Too Much and Never Enough, that "casual dehumanization of people was commonplace at the Trump dinner table, including branding women as 'ugly fat slobs' and men as 'losers.'" It is tempting to deny what happened to you in the recent election — or push it away — especially when your father made you feel that if you were not a winner, you were a loser.
You lost the election, but you are not a loser.
But I wonder if you believe your father's delusion, which may be why you seem to be adopting a politics of grievance and vengeance: They wronged me and must be destroyed. That may offer the illusion of immediate relief — a target for all that haunts you; an enemy that makes you feel strong and vital — and keep you from feeling crushed or demoralized. But then you would be ignoring your own interesting insight from 1987: "There are people — I categorize them as life losers," you wrote in The Art of the Deal, "who get their sense of accomplishment from trying to stop others."
Please don't ignore your own advice. "What separates the winners from the losers," you wrote in Trump: Surviving at the Top in 1990, "is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
The people I know who were poisoned by parental contempt and self-hate only escaped their misery when they challenged their parents' negative views. But I must warn you — that may be the most difficult thing you have ever done. It can be horrifying and shattering to awaken to parental mistreatment. You might feel deeply betrayed and experience rage, sadness, and emptiness.
The consolation for this emotional nightmare?
You would not have to remain imprisoned in the delusion that you are worthless and you would not have the immense burden of continually trying to prove to the world that you are great. Your defeat in the 2020 election would still be devastating, but it would not confirm that you are bad, and that could free you up to pursue the next phase of your life.