Recently, I walked in after work and listened to the answering machine at home (I’ll admit I’m a troglodyte with a landline). I was paying scant attention until this came on: “This is Donald Trump and I need your help to make America great again. California has a closed presidential primary. In order for your vote to count, you must be registered to vote as a Republican. Visit donaldjtrump.com for information on changing your party affiliation so you can vote in the Republican primary. Time is short and every vote counts. I want your vote and I want to make America great again.”

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WHAT! Who gave the man my number? After I had finished frothing at the mouth for a bit, I thought he might like to hear from me. After all, he left a number to call.

***
Hey Donald Trump, this is Gayatri Subramaniam. I’m not even into politics, but I have a few things to say to you.

So you think you will “make America great again?” Actually, it’s been pretty decent the last eight years, with a dignified President who has made America look good again in the international community. It’s going to be a shock to my system if you get elected and I have to wake up to your daily shenanigans. You see, you seem to be stuck intellectually in that self-centered, narcissistic, adolescent-boy stage—you think that size matters, and that all the young women around you are flirting with you and want you. You operate with the same filters that many 13-year-old boys do, throwing out the first thought that comes to your head without any consideration for truth, validity or consequences.

To be honest, I can’t stand your attitude towards women. There are a few in your life—daughters and a wife (ahem, and a couple of ex-wives to boot). You speak of them as if they were your property. I suspect you would take it as a compliment if someone hit on your wife, and you’ve said outright that if you weren’t related, you’d date your daughter. Maybe you think it is funny (God, I hope you think it is funny, because if you were serious, we need a different conversation!)

But I grew up in a country where “eve-teasing” was a daily irritation for most of us—men calling out to us and bothering us, degrading us with looks and words. So I am distressingly familiar with your ilk, and I don’t take lightly the courage to stand up to men like you, or the responsibility to teach my daughters that they belong to no one, and they deserve respect.

You’ve forgotten about the feminist movement, Donald. It was ’uuuuuge, remember? We’ve come a long way in defining our place in the workforce and in the world. But then you, potentially a future world leader, come along and reduce women to a “nice piece of ass.” So that’s the great America that your children will inherit?

Now let’s talk about your xenophobia. Recently, I’ve been working with small groups of elementary-age girls to empower them to be strong, independent thinkers. We dedicated some time last week to their greatest hopes and worries.

Guess what … we spent the entire session discussing the fear many of them have that their families will not be welcomed in this country anymore, thanks to you. Some of their families hail from Central and South America and they know about your wall. Sleep well in your walled mansion, Donald. Don’t worry about the little 5th graders who are afraid to sleep because their recurring nightmares are about losing their families and their homes. Don’t let your conscience keep you up because you casually labeled a whole lot of people, you never met, as rapists and drug lords.

Maybe I should have sympathy for you. We inherit many things from our families, not just our genes. It seems you come by the racism honestly. Woody Guthrie reportedly penned these lyrics about your father’s Beach Haven public housing project that discriminated against non-White renters.

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project

We are not responsible for our fathers’ sins, but someone who wants to be leader of the free world should be evolved enough to challenge old ideas, and embrace change, not fear it.

I think you entered the Presidential race for a lark. And then the unthinkable happened and you went farther than you thought you would. Now your ego won’t let you back out. Like a child who is surprised that he elicited a laugh and starts to overdo his silly behavior, you found unexpected support for all the crass and hateful things you have said, and you’re now forced to come up with more of it. But it’s not child’s play, Donald. And it’s not a reality show that we can turn off.

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When I first arrived in the United States in 1984, I attended school in a small town in Massachusetts. During Reagan’s re-election, I knew little about United States politics and didn’t fully realize that student and faculty opinions in a very liberal, all-women’s college in a Democratic state were hardly representative of the views of the rest of the nation. Over the years, I learned a lot about the parties and found that leaders like Ford and Carter could be friends despite their party allegiances.

Then the George W. Bush years brought the threat of being called “unpatriotic” if you did not fit a certain mold. It made me uncomfortable that only the voice of assent was allowed, but you bring a whole new level of vitriol to politics, and I’m not uncomfortable anymore. I’m terrified.

Gayatri Subramaniam is a pre-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Silicon Valley. She moonlights as a writer when the whim strikes her.

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