I Have Some Questions For Our New President

Originally published: November 14, 2016

Dear President Trump,

I have some questions for you. Each question will be preceded by the context surrounding it. My questions, in no particular order, are as follows:
1. CONTEXT: First, let me congratulate you on your victory. Your “rust-belt” strategy paid off, and you were able to flip Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin (along with Florida), giving you a victory in the Electoral College. This was an impressive accomplishment, and should be recognized as such. That being said…While we don’t select Presidents based on the nation-wide popular vote, I believe it is important for you to acknowledge the fact that, by a margin of more than 600,000 votes, more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for you. Clearly we are a divided nation right now. You said in your victory speech, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division…To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.” I applaud this sentiment, and I encourage you to act on it. Many past Presidents from both parties, including our three most recent Presidents, have included members of the opposing political party as key figures in their Administrations as a way to try to heal national divides.

QUESTION: Will you help to heal our divided nation by appointing Democrats to key positions in your Administration?

 

2. CONTEXT: You are, as you frequently point out, a very wealthy man. Your business empire is vast, complex and global, and involves many potentially awkward entanglements with foreign governments and individuals. As President you will be making decisions that will significantly affect our nation, but many of those decisions could also impact your business empire. This presents a serious conflict of interest that you will need to address, and so far you have not done so in a satisfactory manner. All you have said on this topic is that three of your children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, will run your business while you are President. The problem is that this would absolutely not eliminate any conflict of interest – not even close. In addition to the notion that you could knowingly make decisions as President that would enrich your children, you have also named Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric to your Transition team, where they will potentially have a voice in selecting the very oversight officials who would be enforcing any regulations that may apply to your (or should I say “their”?) business. This would be entirely inappropriate, but you have not said how you plan to prevent this.

[UPDATE (11/14/16): Now you have asked the Obama Administration for these same three of your children to be granted top-level security clearances. You claim that they need these clearances because they will be serving as “unpaid advisers” on foreign policy (Really? What exactly would be their qualifications to advise the President of the United States on foreign policy?). But they will also be running your business! Having the kind of access to top secret information that would come with those clearances, while running an international business conglomerate, would be completely unprecedented and should not happen – although once you’re President you can grant them the clearances without having to ask for it. Please don’t…]

You also have not ruled out returning to your business empire after your Presidential term is over, meaning that you could knowingly be making decisions as President that would benefit yourself financially. This is unacceptable, and demonstrates why you have to address this issue. Every President since Lyndon Johnson has put their financial holdings into a “blind trust”, administered by an independent trustee, in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, as have most members of Congress, judges and other public officials. In this way, these officials could not be accused of a conflict of interest, since they have no idea what their money was invested in. I would advise you to do the same, but it would have to be a truly “blind” trust in order to avoid the conflicts of interest. Your kids cannot be the trustees. Given the expansive nature of your business empire, this won’t be an easy task, but you must find a way to do it.

QUESTION: Will you place all of your financial holdings into a true “blind trust” in order to eliminate potential conflicts of interest?

 

3. CONTEXT: The “Alt-Right” is a loose collection of White Supremacists, Anti-Semites, Anti-Immigrant Xenophobes, Neo-Nazis and right-wing conspiracy nut-jobs. During your campaign you brought several key figures from the Alt-Right movement, including Stephen Bannon, Roger Stone, and David Bosse, into your campaign organization. In fact, these were some of your most important advisers. Many believe that by bringing in these people, you have done more to legitimize the Alt-Right movement and their despicable agenda than anyone thought possible.

QUESTION: Will anybody from the Alt-Right have a place in your Presidential administration, further legitimizing their hateful agenda?

[UPDATE (11/14/16): It has now announced that Stephen Bannon – the CEO of Breitbart News, which Bannon has proudly called a “platform for the Alt-Right” – will be Senior Counsel in the White House. Bannon had been in the running for White House Chief of Staff – which would have been disastrous – but that position went to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (a much better choice).]

 

4. CONTEXT: Global Warming is real. There is not a serious question about this. Every legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific study has shown this, but just as they did back in the 1960’s when they were fighting against the scientific evidence that clearly showed leaded gasoline was putting lead into the atmosphere, the oil industry has hired unprincipled scientists to produce deceitful non-peer-reviewed “studies” that contradict the scientific consensus, and published them as if they were legitimate scientific studies. They are not. The GOP has sided with big oil and against legitimate science – and against the well-being of the American people and in fact all people around the globe – and have made science a partisan issue. It should not be. Science has been defined as requiring “strict adherence to empirical study and independent verification (peer review) as a process for properly developing and evaluating explanations for observable phenomena”. It does not take the political implications into account. In the past, you have made it clear that you believe global warming is a hoax (this is just one of many such tweets):

trump-global-warming
In addition, converting our nation to clean energy could provide millions of jobs and unprecedented opportunities for research and development into new technologies that could once again make America the envy of the world.

QUESTION: Will you recognize global warming as the legitimate and serious threat that it is, support the 2015 Paris Agreement and adopt policies that will help in the battle against global warming, moving us to clean energy (solar, wind, wave, geothermal, etc) and away from carbon-based energy sources (oil, coal, natural gas, etc)?

 

5. CONTEXT: You said during the campaign that you will “repeal and replace” Obamacare. Now you are suggesting that you might keep parts of it, specifically the ban on denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions and keeping children on their parents’ policies through age 26, and you have not ruled out keeping other provisions. This sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton’s “fix what’s wrong and keep what works” position. You have also suggested that you would eliminate the “imaginary lines” between the states and allow all health insurance companies to do business in all 50 states. Perhaps I should point out that those “imaginary lines” are actually state boundaries, and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states…” Corporations are created by submitting proposed “Articles of Incorporation” to the appropriate agency of the state government (in California, where I live, this would be the Secretary of State’s office). In other words, incorporating business entities and allowing them to do business within a state is the state’s authority, not the federal government’s authority, and the 10th Amendment prevents the federal government from assuming that authority. Eliminating those “imaginary lines” and allowing any health insurance company to do business in any state would in fact take that authority away from the states and give it to the federal government, in clear violation of the 10th Amendment.

QUESTION: What are your plans regarding health care, and if you and Congress succeed in repealing Obamacare, what will happen to the 20+ million people who now have health insurance that did not have coverage before Obamacare went into effect?

 

6. CONTEXT: During the campaign, you offended several different racial, ethnic and cultural groups, including Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, the Disabled and the LGBTQ community. You threatened policies that would significantly infringe on the basic civil rights of these groups (mass deportations, the Muslim ban, etc), leading many Americans to fear for their rights under your Administration.

QUESTION: Will you allay the fears of those you have offended and help to heal the divide that has been exacerbated by this campaign by recognizing the inclusive tradition that makes us who we are as a country?

 

7. CONTEXT:  During the campaign, you banned several journalistic organizations, ranging from Buzzfeed to the Washington Post, from your press pool and from receiving scheduling information and other missives from your campaign, simply because they had published articles that were less than worshipful of you. This was a frightening infringement on the Freedom of the Press – one of the core principles upon which our nation was founded – and all just because you didn’t like what they had written and/or said.

QUESTION:  Will you, as President, continue your practice of banning journalistic organizations who don’t fawn over your every word and/or action, or will you recognize that a vigorous free press is essential to any democracy, and especially ours, and that this type of censorship is the hallmark of dictatorship?

 

The answers to these and many other questions will ultimately determine how the Donald Trump Presidency will be regarded by history.

 

We are watching