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  • Writer's pictureThom Rutledge

Open Letter to Congress

Dear Congress:

With each passing day, Donald Trump embarrasses our nation and endangers our world more. He is an addict and his drugs of choice are power, glory, praise, admiration and unconditional loyalty. He literally has people on his staff bring him praise and adulation at least twice a day, in addition to what he no doubt requires from them in day-to-day interactions. When he has not been sufficiently shielded from the massive criticism, outrage and ridicule directed at him, he has to go to a “campaign rally” so that he can stand in front of a crowd of people who worship him. A campaign rally for a man elected to the highest office in the land less than a year ago, with more than 3 years left to his current term.

Now that Mr. Trump has had a taste of the power he can feel by ordering military strikes while eating chocolate cake, withdrawing our nation from a global agreement that is literally about saving mankind, firing an FBI director, thinking that will deter an investigation into his own campaign and blaming you (Congress) for all of his legislative shortfalls, this only gets worse from here. Most recently we have witnessed this man, occupying the presidency, shamelessly defend white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi’s, while once more demonstrating what appears to be an almost complete lack of knowledge and understanding of history.

Can we please agree at this point that the man is not going to respond to the gravity of his office, as many have hoped, by gaining humility or wisdom. And he is not going to settle for being our Buffoon President that we can make fun of until his time in office runs out. He would be completely hilarious if he were not so dangerous. I once described Mr. Trump as a developmentally delayed toddler with a loaded handgun but now realize that he is far more dangerous than that.

He is extremely limited in his ability to solve problems because he only knows one way to address differences: he attacks, he insults, he challenges, he lies, he complains, he pouts, he threatens. It is not an exaggeration to say that he takes absolutely everything personally. Ironically, he is the opposite of the great deal-maker he professes to be. He only ignites and fuels conflicts, never resolves them and he actually believes that “making a good deal” is the same as “getting his way.”

Donald Trump does not have the capacity to see anything from anybody else’s point of view. The only distinction he can make is whether or not someone agrees with him. He is more than just a selfish egomaniac; he is something far more dangerous. He literally believes that everything he thinks is true and every opinion that he has is right, beyond all question. He is not a stubborn man who lacks willingness to change; he is a dangerously flawed man with zero capacity to think or behave differently. While you and I can feel the enormity of potential consequence in the conflict with North Korea, for instance, Donald Trump only experiences the need to be recognized as right. To him, everything is a power struggle and he must always be recognized as the winner. He defines himself solely in terms of contrast with others. For him to be right, he must always be pointing to someone who is wrong. For him to be good, he must always be pointing to someone who is bad. Without that contrast, from his perspective, he does not exist. In other words, not being pitted against others whom he can label as wrong or bad, without some version of a black/white, all/none conflict, Donald Trump has no identity. Meaning: that when anyone tries to get him to see things in terms of compromise or, God forbid, in terms of mistakes he might have made, psychologically, Donald Trump is fighting for his very existence.

I am writing to ask that you not sit back, continuing to watch what is happening with a Donald Trump presidency without standing up for what is right – for your constituents and for the love of our nation. Sometimes things happen that are so wrong that standing by and not taking action becomes more a sin of commission than of omission. Of course, right now both are inexcusable.

At this writing, Bob Corker, senator from my state of Tennessee has finally step forward to express the need for “radical change.” While I do appreciate Senator Corker’s doing that, I cannot ignore all of the times over the past few months when he – and the rest of you – should have said something. Even better, when you should have done something. I understand that politics involves strategy and that Mr. Corker’s own aspirations to become president naturally play a part in the timing of his speaking out. That and the fact that he waited for the litmus test for taking a moral stand became whether or not Nazi’s are good.

Members of Congress, I am asking that you stand up and let it be known to your colleagues and to the American people that what you are witnessing in the Trump administration is beyond the pale. I am asking that you put loyalty to country before loyalty to party. I am asking that you put doing what is right ahead of protecting yourself professionally. And I am reminding you that the people who stand silently by, watching others do great harm, are every bit as guilty as the perpetrators themselves.

If you are already working to counter the damage being done by the Trump administration, I am asking that you be courageous enough to do so in plain sight. Speak out publically. We are looking at a very real possibility of Donald Trump crossing into a point of no return. Think of the people you represent. Better still, think of the people you love. Do you really want to have to realize that you should have done more when it is too late?

If doing what is right is not enough for some of you, I will appeal to your self-concern. You are members of The United States Congress, which insures that your names have already become part of the American history that will be taught in schools long after you and I are gone. Think carefully about what children in school will learn about who you were and what you did (or did not do) for our country.

Please speak out and take action – now, not later. I believe it is called choosing to be on the right side of history. I thank you for your attention.

Thom Rutledge

Thom Rutledge is a psychotherapist and author of Embracing Fear and Earning Your Own Respect. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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