Dear Joe:

On November 9, 2016, the day after Trump was elected our 45th president and you, Joe, started packing your boxes after living in the Naval Observatory for eight years, I posted “From Hope and Change to Fear and Change: A Letter to My Children.” In it I suggested that,

In the short run, expect the uncertainty that swirls around a Trump presidency to produce a significant amount of economic, political and social stress. Trade, foreign policy, healthcare, the Supreme Court; there are many places to expect him to exercise his power in nefarious ways.

In closing, after imploring them to “focus on your own physical, psychological, economic, and intellectual strength” as a survival strategy, I also suggested that their generations (millennial and Z) had the power to mitigate any damage he might do. I wrote, “You have the power. Do not squander it through apathy or neglect. In the end we all—individually and collectively—are responsible for Trump and what happens next.” Seven-plus years later I still believe that; perhaps now more than ever.

From the beginning of Trump’s presidency, I never subscribed to the hope that somehow the office of the presidency might reform him making him behave like a president—at least like the 44 who preceded him. As we all have learned since, what most of us (including yours truly) did was under-imagine and underestimate just how feral his selfish depravity might become.

Today, we face not only the possibility but, if the polls are correct, the probability of his election once again to the presidency in 2024. I agree with you, Joe, this would be the beginning of the end of our democracy. But standing up and angrily making that case as you did in your campaign launch on January 5th—that we should all be anti-Trump because of the threat he poses to American democracy—will not save us. Moreover, it will not get you reelected.

I suspect that I hurt your feelings late last summer when I suggested you gracefully bow out and act to mentor your replacement for the nominee for president of the Democratic Party in 2024 (“Let’s Get Really Real,” September 10, 2023). I apologize. Forgive me further when I suggest that your feelings, and the robust ego that defends them, are unimportant to me (as they should be to you) given the peril we face in a second Trump presidency. The stubborn reality is that your advanced age is abundantly obvious and disqualifying to most voters—regardless of the facts that support a mostly productive presidential record. And, please remember your pledge in your last campaign that you would be a one-term “transition president.” That said, I am grateful that you stepped up when you did to give us a four-year reprieve even while it feels like it wasn’t much of a reprieve.

I hear you; you are unwilling to give up the Oval Office. But, if you insist on persisting, you need to realize that extremely important voter blocks, including my children as well as blacks and Hispanics, will not automatically show up for you in November as they did in 2020 if you simply run on an anti-Trump message. The reason lies in the numbers and they suggest—loud and clear—that everyone has made up their mind about Trump. Those who have been for him still are, regardless of his felony-count total, and those who aren’t, aren’t. Conducting an anti-Trump campaign is like howling into a black-hole in outer space; it will produce no new votes for you, but it will keep the spotlight on him, which he is preternaturally skilled at turning into donations and votes.

The further reality is that Trump supporters will show up to vote for him, while those who are repulsed by him may or may not show up for you depending on whether they believe you will be able to improve their lives by serving their needs. That doesn’t mean these folks don’t care about American democracy as much as you do, they simply don’t believe an octogenarian white guy understands, let alone can deliver, the changes they need to secure their future. This is the hurdle you must clear if you have any hope of being reelected.

Don’t speak to us about the dystopic future of a Trump America, speak to us about reestablishing our many rights of self-determination, which Trump has compromised. How will you act to restore women’s rights to control their bodies—their healthcare? How will you assure the young Hispanic kid that a good education and job opportunities remain available to them? How will you show us that crime can be brought under control without terrorizing young black men? How will you secure our border while maintaining America as a beacon of freedom? We don’t need you to rail against Trump; frankly, that is just annoying. We need you to explain how you are for us.

Joe, it’s not just democracy that is on the ballot (as you like to proclaim). Our dreams are on the ballot, too. Don’t just express your concern for America, show that you are concerned about Americans, too. You must make the connection between our democracy and our dreams!

I still harbor the hope that you will figure out a way before or during the Democratic National Convention to pass the torch to someone who shares your agenda but not your age. I believe Americans will turn on a dime—perhaps even rejoice—at an option that is neither you nor Trump. That much is clear in the numbers, too. It is still a long time—in political time—to November 2024. Perhaps as yet unforeseen events will produce a change in our options for president in 2024. Maybe we will be delivered from the impending nightmare of a second Trump presidency by some form of divine intervention.

Regardless, what Americans do not want is more fear. What we want is an aspirational vision of the future where all of us—from the old, angry, white man to the young, transexual, Gen Z artist—can believe once again that America is the greatest nation in the world because it remains the one nation in the world where anyone’s dreams can come true. That is the promise I grew up with, and it’s the one you need to reestablish, Joe.

So, respectfully, quit wallowing in Trump hysteria and get off your skinny Scranton-reared ass and get the job done. Quit talking about Trump and start talking about us! Show us how a second Biden term will restore the American Dream. How will you enable our dreams? Be our beacon of hope, Joe, not the Grim Reaper of despair; we get enough of that negative crap from the large Orange One.


A guy who cares about America and Americans, too.