November 13, 2016


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To the Editor:

As I left Trump Tower late this morning, I was overwhelmed by how much spirits had been bolstered among a group that had never expected to come out the winners in a brutal election cycle that seemed like an uphill battle from the beginning. With the fresh taste of victory on their tongues, they had but a single question remaining: now what?

The election of Donald J. Trump was the final cry for help from an increasingly desperate working class that could no longer be ignored. The President-elect’s coalition is built up of people who are overqualified and underemployed, voters whose swelling dissatisfaction with their downward economic spiral exploded into a populist movement that few pundits anticipated. A message of returned greatness did not echo for them thoughts of the 1950s or the pre-civil rights era; instead, it was a promise of once again being able to feed your family without working so long that you never got to see them.

Many a time, these people were told that their labor jobs were being replaced with more technology, and that was necessary for economic progress; however, this election does not belong to those who favor technical progress — it belongs to the Americans that progress forgot. Uniting an injured nation, creating jobs and shifting our economy into a new era of production without leaving millions of people on the sidelines, is a daunting set of tasks for the new President-elect. At Cornell, the air is filled with doubt, disdain and hopelessness. I offer you one plea, one repeated both by President Obama and Secretary Clinton this afternoon: do not give up on Trump before his presidency begins.

As Obama said, we are not on the teams of Democrats or Republicans; we are Americans, and the work under any administration depends on all of us, not only the incumbent’s electors. In his victory speech, the President-elect extended an olive branch to his opponents: “…I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.” As the stock exchange closes at an all-time high after a brief spot of uncertainty overnight, and Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed strong interest in building an alliance between the U.S. and Russia, there is good reason to feel, at least, that the coming years may turn out well for America.

It is difficult to trust someone you once held an enemy to act in your best interests. It is nearly impossible to look beyond such a vitriolic campaign season and bond together with that enemy and put in a sustained effort. But President Trump will fail in his endeavors, and then he will fail again; and that will be okay, because the new president will have the greatest, most diverse and most dynamic nation to fall back on for support and guidance. The path forward to prolonged peace and prosperity, evident in an imperfect yet hopeful administration, is not to seek to destroy the new government; instead, to participate in it, along with all Americans, to direct it in such a way as to design a nation better for us all. When you bet against a President for whatever reason, you bet against the most vulnerable citizens in his nation.

Donald Trump is soon going to be President Trump, and President Trump is going to need you, me, and all of us. If Cornell, and America, works on building this government together, then we might make something akin to greatness.

Richard E. Ulbricht, III ’18