I bumped into the mail carrier on my street on Wednesday. She is new to the block, so I offered to take the rubber-banded mail stack she had in her hand with my name on it and save her the walk to my front door.
She politely declined to hand me our family mail, including a package, citing federal law that mail be directly deposited in the person’s mail slot or box. Had it not been for recent events, I might have argued that in a quiet suburban neighborhood like mine, we all take in each other’s mail. I decided, instead, to await the sound of our box closing, and our dog barking, before opening the odd-shaped envelope, which, as it turned out, contained auto parts my husband had ordered to fix the car.
Although I am not nearly as famous nor active as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder, billionaire and Democratic donor George Soros, Rep. Maxine Waters, former CIA Director John Brennan or actor Robert De Niro, it seems as if anyone who writes or says anything critical about President Donald Trump could find himself or herself on a target list. Fear has a way of spreading like a virus.
So, instead of wringing my hands with worry about what’s in the mail, the upcoming midterm elections, the state of our nation, I sat down and wrote to the president:
Dear President Trump,
Enough is enough. We are tired. You have brought about civic fatigue with your endless tweets, hysterical rhetoric, inflammatory policies and discourteous sentiments expressed through social media, campaign rallies and news conferences. Your incitement of hatred, anger and viciousness now appears to have empowered others to target and mail bombs to good people who disagree with you and perhaps even journalists who have the audacity to report the facts.
Hate is in the air.
We are a nation of kind and generous people, and your rhetoric has created a wedge between and among us. You define us by race, gender and sexual preference and separate us into competing segments — cultural groups, religious denominations, immigrants and refugees. In many ways, we are having trouble recognizing ourselves as Americans.
There is still time for you to lead and unite, to lower the rhetoric and reign in the extremism. Start engaging in conversation instead of tweeting rants. If you cannot find the higher angel in yourself, turn to others around you who have better instincts. Take their wise counsel.
Leadership, Mr. President, is about being a role model and setting the bar high. Think of yourself as the maestro in the orchestra who sets the tone and pace for others to play in harmony so there are no discordant notes.
I recommend you read a new book on presidential leadership by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “Leadership: In Turbulent Times.” She has a few good examples for you.
Tara D. Sonenshine is a former journalist for ABC News and Newsweek. She is a former U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs (2012 to 2013), and is senior career adviser at The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.