An Open Letter to Trump Voters from His Top Strategist-Turned-Defector
I respect Trump's fans. That's why I can no longer support the man
Even Trump's most trusted advisors didn't expect him to fare this well.
Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy
expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The
Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count.
That was it. The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling
at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His
candidacy was a protest candidacy.
It pains me to say, but he is the presidential equivalent of Sanjaya
on American Idol. President Trump would be President Sanjaya in
terms of legitimacy and authority. And I am now taking full
responsibility for helping create this monster- and reaching out
directly to those voters who, like me, wanted Trump to be the real deal.
My support for Trump began probably like yours did. Similar to so many
other Americans, I was tired of the rhetoric in Washington. Negativity
and stubbornness were at an all-time high, and the presidential
prospects didn't look promising.
In 2015, I fell in love with the idea of the protest candidate who was
not bought by corporations. A man who sat in a Manhattan high-rise he
had built, making waves as a straight talker with a business background,
full of successes and failures, who wanted America to return to
I was sold.
Last summer, I signed on as the Communications Director of the Make
America Great Again Super PAC.
It was still early in the Trump campaign, and we hit the ground running.
His biggest competitor had more than $100 million in a Super PAC. The
Jeb Bush deep pockets looked to be the biggest obstacle we faced. We
seemed to be up against a steep challenge, especially since a big part
of the appeal of a Trump candidacy was not being influenced by PAC money.
After the first debate, I was more anxious than ever to support Trump.
The exchange with Megyn Kelly was like manna from heaven for a
communications director. She appeared like yet another reporter trying
to kick out the guest who wasn't invited to the party. At the time, I
felt excited for the change to the debate he could bring. I began
realizing the man really resonates with the masses and would bring
people to the process who had never participated before.
That was inspiring to me.
It wasn't long before every day I awoke to a buzzing phone and a shaking
head because Trump had said something politically incorrect the night
before. I have been around politics long enough to know that the other
side will pounce on any and every opportunity to smear a candidate.
But something surprising and absolutely unexpected happened. Every other
candidate misestimated the anger and outrage of the "silent majority" of
Americans who are not a part of the liberal elite. So with each
statement came a jump in the polls. Just when I thought we were
finished, The Donald gained more popularity.
I don't think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don't even
know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all.
He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the
White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver's seat, and
nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have
any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy.
A devastating terrorist attack in Pakistan targeting Christians occurred
on Easter Sunday, and Trump's response was to tweet, "Another radical
Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women &
children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve."
Ignoring the fact that at the time Trump tweeted this (time-stamped 4:37
p.m.) the latest news reports had already placed the number differently
at 70 dead, 300 injured, take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous,
cartoonish, almost childish arrogance of saying that he alone can solve.
Does Trump think that he is making a cameo on Wrestlemania (yes, one of
his actual credits)?
This is not how foreign policy works. For anyone. Ever.
Superhero powers where "I alone can solve" problems are not real. They
do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely
not for Donald Trump.
What was once Trump's desire to rank second place to send a message to
America and to increase his power as a businessman has nightmarishly
morphed into a charade that is poised to do irreparable damage to this
country if we do not stop this campaign in its tracks.
I'll say it again: Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his
pride is too out of control to stop him now.
You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump
supporter: stop supporting him.
He doesn't want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could
have run the White House. He's achieved that already and then some.
If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help
the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.
The hard truth is: Trump only cares about Trump.
And if you are one of the disaffected voters- one of the silent majority
like me- who wanted a candidate who could be your voice, I want to speak
directly to you as one of his biggest advocates and supporters.
He is not that voice. He is not your voice. He is only Trump's voice.
Trump is about Trump. Not one of his many wives. Not one of his many
"pieces of ass." He is, at heart, a self-preservationist.
In fact, many people are not aware of the Trump campaign's internal
slogan, but I will tell you. It is stolen from a make-believe television
presidency on The West Wing where Martin Sheen portrayed
President Bartlet. The slogan on the show amongst the idealistic group
of Bartlet's staff was "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet."
Inside the Trump camp, the slogan became "Let Trump Be Trump."
It is a repurposed slogan that seemed spot-on for the candidate. He is
an intelligent, charismatic man who is involved in every aspect of his
organization and would rather speak from the cuff than read briefing
notes and recite them. I, in fact, admire Trump for this. But saying
this qualifies him to be president is like saying that Seth Rogan is
suited to be president. Another extraordinary improvisor, not an
extraordinary presidential candidate.
Trump has undoubtedly lived up to the slogan, right down to his main
public-relations liaison. Rather than go for a focus-group Washington
insider, his communications person had previously taken press calls for
the Trump Organization and directed them to the appropriate Trump child.
She joked that before joining the campaign she thought "Common Core" was
a class at Equinox.
The primary problem with this? What I've seen the longer I've helped
prop him up along with the millions who are helping Trump is that we got
the slogan wrong. A more accurate internal slogan would read, "Let Trump
I don't dismiss any single Trump constituent, which is why I believe
it's important to let you know that the candidate does.
I, too, think our country has gone off track in its values. I, too,
think that we need a dramatic change of course. But I am, in my heart, a
policy wonk and a believer in coming to the table with necessary
knowledge for leading the free world.
The man does not know policy, nor does he have the humility to admit
what he does not know- the most frightening position of all.
I remember watching the second Trump debate and thinking, After this,
he is going to have to start hammering it home on policy; the country
needs substance to make an informed decision.
I wished for it six months ago and am still waiting for it today. He had
an opportunity after the terror attacks in Belgium and instead he used
the opportunity to talk about closing the borders and what a mess that
country had become. I was appalled that he offered no condolences or
words of support; he merely gave his "build a wall" stump speech and
talked about his greatness.
I felt sad for him at that moment.
And now, with the latest horrifying terror attack in Pakistan, my
sadness has turned into anger.
I consider myself a part of the silent majority that led to Trump's
rise, which is why I want you to know that I am with you- I wanted Trump
to be real, too.
He is not.
He even says so himself. His misogyny? That's the character.
His presidential candidacy? That's a character, too.
The problem with characters is they are the stuff of soap operas and
sitcoms and reality competitions- not political legacies.
Trump made me believe. Until I woke up. And he has no problem abusing
your support the same way he cheated hard-working men and women out of
millions of dollars, for which he is now being sued.
I came into this eager to support a savvy businessman who received
little outside funding. I loved Trump's outsider status. But a year has
now passed since I was first approached to become part of Team Trump.
While the pundits pontificated about what type of PR stunt Trump had up
his billion-dollar sleeves, I met with people who convinced me he was
serious about changing the political conversation. I wanted to raise
millions for him. I wanted to contribute to millions of votes.
And as part of that support, in October, I supported the internal
decision to close the Super PAC in order to position him as the
quintessential non-politician. I still supported him with great passion
after that. The decision to close the Super PAC was part of that
devotion to his message of outsider change.
But something was shifting.
Without intending to do so, I began to hear and evaluate him more
critically and skeptically as a member of the voting public rather than
a communications person charged with protecting his positions.
I no longer felt that he was the leader the country was looking for, and
I found myself longing- aching, really- for policy substance that went
beyond building a wall and making Mexico pay for it. What were once
bold- although controversial- statements now seemed to be attempts to
please the crowds, not direction to lead this country to a better place.
I began to realize his arrogance and isolation had taken over and were
now controlling his message.
And here's what he tapped into: the unprecedented, unbelievable anger.
Because we are all angry- and we all have a right to be. But Trump is
not our champion. He would stab any one of his supporters in the back if
it earned him a cent more in his pocket.
Unfortunately, the more vitriolic Trump has become, the more the people
responded to him. That drove him to push the boundaries further and
I also started seeing a trend of incompetence and deniability.
When there was a tweet that contained an error, he would blame it on an
intern; when there was a photo containing a World War II Nazi Germany
background, he would blame it on an intern; when he answered questions
in an overtly controversial fashion, he would claim that he did not
properly hear the question. He refused to take responsibility for his
actions while frequently demanding apologies from others.
Imagine Trump wronged you, even in the smallest possible way. He would
go to the grave denying he had ever done anything wrong to you — ever.
Trump acts as if he's a fictional character. But like Hercules, Donald
Trump is a work of fiction.
No matter how many times he repeats it, Trump would not be the "best" at
being a president, being in shape, fighting terrorism, selling steaks,
and whatever other "best" claim he has made in the last 15 minutes.
He would be the best at something, though. He is the best at looking out
for Donald Trump- at all costs.
Don't let our country pay that price.
This letter originally appeared on XOJane.comXOJane.com
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