It’s hard to fathom that the 2020 Presidential Election is only a week away. In a year of chaos and calamity, I have simply lost track of time. As election day approaches, I thought I’d share what was on my heart in one of my open letters. Since I have already casted my vote, I figured the best use of my time and energy would be to write this open letter to the next President, whoever he may be. (I hope in future open letters to our leaders the pronouns will change in respect to the Presidency.)
First and foremost, Mr. President, I need you (and we as a country need you) to lead us. We don’t want you to cross the aisle, we want you to remove the aisle. The first step in repairing this country to remove what divides us and that damn aisle has been tripping people up for far too long. We have been conditioned to believe that the aisle will guide us, because of our core principles, stances and experiences. The truth is we have focused so much on the aisle that we have not allowed ourselves or our values to evolve in a way that is inclusive of all opinions. So the first thing on your list is to destroy the aisle. It won’t be easy, but it’s critical for the welfare of our nation.
Second, I need the next President to be a reacher. I need you to reach all Americans. I need you to reach FOR all Americans. I need you to reach for them to lift, learn and listen. When we reach, we find ourselves in places where we have never been, with people we have never met. Those reaching moments are the most transformative aspects of our lives. When we reach and truly learn from those reaching moments we allow ourselves the possession of the most crucial attribute coming out of this horrific year: empathy. If you reach for one thing, reach for someone else’s shoes. Both at home and abroad, the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes should be the President’s super power.
Third, I need you to do your homework, knowing that your homework will not be submitted the next day. Your homework is a long term play. If there was an area of homework that I hope you would focus on: it would be women’s issues. Women’s issues span far past a woman’s right to choose, so please don’t limit yourself on this assignment. Far too long we have allowed Women’s Issues to solely focus on reproductive rights, probably because we are allowed limited speaking time and minimal seating at the table. But in this upcoming four years, I need more from you. It will take pause, research and responsibility. You will learn things that will be ugly, don’t bury them, expose them, You will need to unlearn things that are ugly, don’t be quiet about it, scream them. Create space and seats for women, while listening and learning from a place of leverage for eternal equality. And while you’re at it, don’t limit your homework to women’s equality, let’s take it all on.
Finally, I need you to remember that this job is not defined by you. You are not bigger than the presidency, you are the living breathing mechanism that allows the presidency to lead. You represent the people, not yourself. Be a conduit for positive change, universal acceptance and leadership. When you have to make the hard decisions, remember why the presidency was created, not why you wanted to sit there. When you have moments of human error and humility, share them. And each day when you wake up, put on someone else’s shoes (preferably a pair that you had to reach for) and at the end of the night when you take them off ask yourself, how did I represent that person? In the event you missed the mark, put those shoes on the next day until you get it right.
My hope is that after the next four years: we are running over what was once an aisle, barefoot, equal and accountable for what we’ve done as a country. I’m not asking you for perfection, but at the very least I’m holding you to progress.