A Letter from Someone Who Can’t Vote

Stefan Sujansky, Politics Editor

Dear President-elect Trump,

My name is Stefan Sujansky.  I am a 16-year-old who goes to a high school in California, and if I could have voted, I would not have voted for you.

But, as they say, there’s no use in crying over spilled milk and even though the election did not go the way I had hoped it would, I congratulate you on your win.  I’m writing to tell my story; to show you the America I saw leading up to the election.

In your concession speech, you talked about how you wanted to be a president for all Americans, and I hope this helps you better understand all of the people you hope to serve.

On the Friday before the election, I flew into Colorado (a bigger swing state than California) and spent the next four days knocking on hundreds of doors, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  With a blue “H” on my chest and a clipboard in hand, I marched through the streets, fighting for what I believed to be a better America.  What I found was a part of America that was falling behind the rest.

In contrast to the explosion of skyscrapers and countless construction cranes downtown, our corner of northeast Denver seemed frozen in time, as paint peeled off the walls and weeds conquered front lawns.  It seemed that one out of every 5 to 10 names on our list had been forced to sell their homes and move elsewhere.  I grew tired of hearing: “No, they don’t live here anymore.”

But, within the walls of these dilapidated homes in these largely Latino and African-American neighborhoods, I also found people who feared you.  One man named Joel nearly worked himself into a fit, fuming over how he “can’t believe some of the things that come out of that man’s mouth.”

At another house, a 7-year-old answered the door and after we told him who we were canvassing for, laughed and said, “Oh, I thought y’all were going for Donald Trump.  He’s a rapist.”

You were elected by a demographic that felt like, while the rest of the country was able to move on and grow, they were still left in the dark pit of the Great Recession.  Ironically, I found this part of America by campaigning for your opponent.

That’s why I’m writing this letter not to convince you to change your economic policies (that’s what your voters wanted, after all), but instead to demand a shift in your approach to social issues.  After all, those were the main forces that drove the people I met to go out and vote against you, not your economic policy.

First, I call on you to accept the amnesty policies set by the Obama administration.  While a general fear that immigrants add competition to an already-competitive job market has driven many Americans to your side, don’t forget that the world is a dangerous place and the United States must continue to be a beacon of hope and a sanctuary of equality for all.  A border wall with Mexico would also ruin this image of inclusiveness and opportunity.  I hope that you reconsider your previous policies with the United States’ stance in the world in mind.

Second, I call on you walk back your promises to “temporarily” halt the immigration of people from primarily Muslim countries.  Not only is it unconstitutional because it unfairly targets a certain religious group, but it also boosts already-growing Islamophobic tendencies in our nation.

Third, I call on you to remove your endorsement of the “Stop-and-Frisk” police tactic.  It unfairly targets minorities and has been ruled unconstitutional in the State of New York.  While you maintain that this policy helped lower crime levels to record lows, reports show that these rates have stayed consistent, even though “Stop and Frisk” has not been in use since 2012, all according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Fourth, I call on you to accept that climate change is a terrifying reality and needs to be addressed now.  As a businessman, I’m sure you understand that sometimes, sacrifices have to be made now to secure investments in the future.  In our case, the investment is the human race.  As carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere continue to climb to record highs and the globe heats up, it’s your duty to ensure a prosperous future for our great-grandchildren.  I implore you to hold the United States to the standards set in the Paris Agreement on climate change and to strengthen, not loosen, domestic regulations on carbon dioxide output.

While you promised to heal the wounds of division, those aforementioned policies would only lead to more pain and separation.  Please consider my proposals not as the demands of a Democrat, but instead as the demands of the marginalized and downtrodden; those who had been hurt by the economy and still decided to vote against you.

I leave you with some words delivered during the victory speech of Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.  I believe these ideas embody what must dominate your mindset during your four to eight years as president.

“I would also ask our leaders in Washington to understand that politics should be a means

to an end not an end in itself.  The end is the preservation of the Republic for the next

generation of Americans and to govern in a way that satisfies the concerns of all

Americans.  That will only be possible if political leaders, and perhaps others, can show

some self restraint, operate with the mutual respect that is assumed in most workplaces

across America, and organize our work for the next generation of Americans.”

Sincerely and respectfully,

Stefan Sujansky