Thank You Donald Trump,
Today you are inaugurated president of the United States. You are my president. Not because I voted for you. But because the American public chose you – through our deliberate votes or lack of voting, we did. Statistics show that my generation disagrees with this choice overwhelmingly. But in a democracy sometimes who you vote for does not win.
So even though I didn’t get the President I picked, today as a Millennial I stand defiantly hopeful. Why? Because I believe that you just might fulfill on your promise to “Make America Great Again.”
I doubt you will fulfill on this promise in the ways you think you will. For today on your first day in office, thanks to your own repeated outbursts, you are already bankrupt in the currencies of strong leaders – namely respect, trust and prudence.
However, I do give you credit, Mr. Trump, for you did do something very well. You have aggravated us. You have provoked us. And although it is still unclear if you did so as a PR trick, out of cluelessness or just deeply-rooted insecurity, this behavior may have been the poke this American bear needed.
Because if you look at the history of America, no matter what our party or politics, we DO believe in the value of diversity, we DO believe in women as equal and valued contributors to society, we DO believe “that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”1 We believe this to our core. Our grandparents and parents (many who were sons or daughters of immigrants) taught us this. They even led by example, fighting wars to uphold these truths. And now, as the true foil you are to our American values, you are reminding our generation that we believe in this and will fight for this, too. In our own ways, on our own modern-day battlefields.
Mr. Trump, you have effectively riled us. But not to fight with the means you fight with or to build the walls you want to build. Rather “all you have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”2
A resolve to do what? To be good. To be good to others, our families, our communities, our country. To be good and true Americans. Americans who fight for our values. And those values include but are not limited to human dignity, free speech, and integrity.
And for now, you may try to “write [us and our heroes] down in history with your bitter, twisted lies.”3 But in doing so, you continue to underestimate us. For in activating us as you have, you trigger one of our strongest attributes. An attribute we share with the great generation before us. For like Baby Boomers, we millennials are doggedly optimistic. We are such an optimistic generation that we believe (some think foolishly) that we can change the world. As Walt Disney taught us, “If you can dream it you can do it.”
And we do dream. We dream big. We dream of an America where race or religion are no longer barriers in our communities. We dream of living debt-free, individually and collectively. We dream of an America where values, missions and ethics drive all organizations, and that the places we work do good by the world through fair and honest means. We dream of a country where our leaders empower their people rather than belittle them. We dream of living happy lives with healthy families in a peaceful and flourishing country, where each of our fellow citizens feel like they are valued and belong.
“And no, we are not satisfied” with the current state of affairs. “And we will not be satisfied”4 until we turn these dreams into reality.
Mr. Trump, we will change the world. And you just might be our catalyst. Even though I doubt you intended this consequence, I do thank you.
And I promise you, we will not be bullied. We will not resign ourselves to a broken, corrupt America. “You will not see us broken, with bowed heads and lowered eyes”5. Instead, you will see us continue to hope, to believe, to dream with renewed vigor and urgency. And then you will see us mobilizing. Us digging in. Us holding ourselves and our country accountable. You will see us investing in the good of America. And together, we millennials, woven from all the heritages and histories of the world:
“We will rise.
We will rise.
We will rise.”6
We will rise.
We will rise.”6
And our country and our world will be better for it.