Dear President Trump,
Although I was a strong critic of yours during the presidential primaries, I did vote for you in the general election, and I’m praying for you and I am rooting for you. So, the advice I want to offer has one intent only: I want to help remove some unnecessary burdens from you so you can focus on the goals of your presidency.
Obviously, the whole Russia investigation has been a major distraction, and like many other Americans, I don’t believe there’s anything to it.
I also believe that if another Republican candidate was elected president (say, Sen. Ted Cruz), the mainstream media would be all over him, virtually day and night. After all, the Democrats were already launching outlandish attacks against Mitt Romney back in 2012 – including Joe Biden’s infamous claim that as president, Romney would put blacks “back in chains” – so who can imagine what they would be doing to a President Cruz?
So, yes, even if you did everything right, as a conservative and a Republican, you’d be attacked by the liberal media and by leftwing elites day and night. But there’s one big difference here. You started a lot of the fights – and I say that with the utmost respect for you as our president.
I was reading a very hostile article about you this week, but the writer made one charge that carried some weight, namely, that you created the atmosphere in which you now have to live. Sadly, there’s some truth to this.
Let’s say that you did not mock a disabled reporter (I initially thought you did but saw video evidence that refutes that, plus you have denied it repeatedly). What about saying that if one of your supporters roughed up a protestor in the crowd that you would pay for their legal fees? What about mocking those you defeated or making fun of the appearance of others or denigrating people in different, ugly ways?
Some of this is water under the bridge, but it still colors you to this day, especially when you revert to some of your old, pre-presidential (and, frankly, non-presidential) habits. And then, when your critics pile on mercilessly, even undeservedly, the perception for many is that, “Trump deserves this. After all, he started it.”
What then can you do?
Do you remember when you apologized last August in what CNN called “an astonishing act of contrition”? (Yes, that’s how CNN reported it.) You said, “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that.” And, you added, “And believe it or not, I regret it.”
Wasn’t that a fruitful thing to do back then? Well, here is the simple principle for today.
It takes two to fight, and if you will humble yourself again – but this time even more clearly – and apologize to the American people, then the perception of many will change.
If you say, “During the campaign, and since being elected, I’ve said many things that inflamed tensions and provoked anger, and I truly regret those remarks. And I now see more clearly than ever how powerful this office is. So, I ask you to forgive me for my shortcomings.
“I’m totally committed to helping each of you, but I’ve made some mistakes and hurt lots of people – the truth is, I’m new at this and I’m not a professional politician. From here on, I want to focus on being your president and making America proud. Thank you for your prayers and your support.”
Then, you go on from there, taking the high road rather than the low road, not flinging mud back if someone flings it on you.
And if you’ll do that, even though your political opponents and your media adversaries will continue their attacks, if they don’t moderate their tone, they will only look worse. And if they attack and you don’t retaliate, they will look ugly. You can still expose fake news and you can continue to get your message out through social media and other means. That’s not the problem. But it’s the way in which you do it that will be critical from here on in.
There’s a wonderful verse in the Book of Proverbs that says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). You can defuse an argument or you can provoke a fight. Which do you want it to be?
On the one hand, if you weren’t a natural fighter, you wouldn’t have made it this far, and on a certain level, you must fight for what is right every day of your life. But there’s a fighting that’s destructive, not constructive, a fighting based on personality and emotion and pride. That kind of fighting will blow up in your face.
You are the most powerful elected official on the planet. Surely that should be enough for your sense of self-worth, no matter what the press says. After all, would you rather be the President of the United States or a journalist writing an op-ed about the president? And which would be better for the fruitfulness of your presidential term(s), not to mention your legacy, being a peacemaker or a troublemaker?
Please give prayerful consideration to what I’ve written here, sir, and see if this resonates with the counsel of your wisest advisors. It could be the difference between success and failure in the years ahead.