Kathleen Cahill: A Thanksgiving letter to the president

(Susan Walsh | AP file photo) President Donald Trump, center, and first lady Melania Trump, right, sit with their family as they have Thanksgiving Day dinner at their Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. Ivanka Trump, left, and Barron Trump, second from left, attend.

Dear President DJT,

As we enter the Thanksgiving season, I wanted to write to say thank you. You are amazing. You have opened my eyes.

Until there was you, I believed, in my naivete, that we are a government of checks and balances in a nation of laws, laws that our elected representatives are sworn to uphold. And that we have core values in our American hearts. I know the term “core values” is not very specific, but I know they involve concepts like truth and justice. And about how the laws — especially the tax laws — are for the rich to get richer, etc, etc, etc. But still, underneath all that, there is the Constitution with its eloquent, indelible language. And there are those core values, buried like a treasure in our souls. They could be appealed to when necessary. I believed I could count on it.

But now, thanks to you, DJT, I see that I’ve been living all my life with a bag over my head.

So I owe you a debt of gratitude for encouraging me to enlarge my knowledge of American history. Lately, I’ve wanted to know more about those terrible things we’ve done in the past. I won’t bore you with the details (I know you don’t like them.) except to say that my shock and disbelief about the children now living without blankets or soap or their parents, in overcrowded cells at the border, all feels like some kind of pattern, or even a tradition, which you support.

Thank you. Also, you have made it OK to believe in whiteness and maleness as actual accomplishments. I can picture a man such as David Duke, who used to hide in a white sheet and cone hat, now feeling his chest swell with renewed pride.

That’s why a lot of people love you, especially those proud race-and-gender folks. Because they no longer have to pretend that we are a nation with core values like justice, decency, freedom, honesty. You have revealed that stuff for what it really is: just a bunch of words people use for speeches at the Lincoln Memorial and other places in Washington D.C. The swamp.

Because your administration has made government service and toadyism synonymous, I feel like a child for believing it was ever anything else. Like believing in Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.

People love you because you tell America the truth. Even if, in your case, the truth is an enormous web of countless lies, you still create meaning, and definition. You shine a light on the dark and make it seem even darker. Which is a very powerful thing to do.

Thank you. The phrase “government of the people, by the people” used to make my heart kind of flutter like a lovesick school girl. What a fool I was. You don’t believe in that kind of hypocrisy and you’ve made me see that many of us don’t really believe in it either.

People want power and profit — and profit is power so they’re really both the same thing — and they’ll do anything to get it. That’s what America really is. All the rest is fake.

Though my heart aches for the innocent I was, who believed my country was actually some kind of beacon to the rest of the world, thank you, DJT, for taking the scales from my eyes.

Thanks again. Happy Thanksgiving.


Kathleen Cahill

P.S. I hope you don’t think I wrote “thank you” too many times, but I was afraid you might not read my letter unless I did.

P.P.S. Please tell me how to define “human scum” to my children.

Kathleen Cahill is a theater scholar living in Salt Lake City.