An Open Letter to Donald Trump

In 2004, I was 18 years old and graduating from high school. I was embarking on my career and, coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I wanted to go into business for myself.

With some money gifted to me, I set out to build a foundation for success. Along with a new set of golf clubs and a Brooks Brothers suit, I visited the Business section of a local bookstore.

When I arrived, it wasn’t long before I noticed a shiny book titled ‘How To Get Rich’ with a picture of your face on it. “The Apprentice” was a success and I was familiar with the Trump name from visiting New York growing up. As a young man with big dreams, this book seemed like a logical place to start.

Although the book wasn’t exactly intellectually stimulating, I loved its simplicity. Its structure was a series of lessons in life and business with photos of celebrities and news clippings. It painted a picture of a man that earned his success through passion, hard work, and building relationships over an established career.

As I went off to college and started my first business, I accumulated many in-depth books on economic theory and business strategy, but I always loved coming back to yours. It was refreshing and familiar and always reminded me of how excited I was to set out on this entrepreneurial journey.

Throughout the years, I enjoyed keeping up with your various projects and media appearances. I’ve spent a good amount of time in Palm Beach and have always enjoyed seeing Mar-A-Lago and hearing tales of your influence on the island. I’ve seen the winery in Charlottesville and was excited for your hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue right down the street from me in DC.

My brother was the Manager of one of your contestants on “Celebrity Apprentice.” He was present throughout much of the season and would send me photos and share stories along the way. He knew how much I respected you and how much I would have enjoyed being a part of it.

But now, everything has changed. After more than a decade of looking up to you as a businessman, you managed to throw it all away in an instant.

Since the day you announced your campaign and began to spread your hateful rhetoric, I have had no choice but to distance myself from just about everything you’re involved in. And I know I’m not alone.

I unfollowed your social media accounts because, not only did I not want to subscribe to such ignorance, I didn’t want to be associated with you at all.

As the campaign has progressed, more and more is being revealed about your business practices. It appears that a significant amount of your wealth was inherited, you’ve bankrupted multiple companies, fraudulently ripped off desperate people through your “university” and have been engaged in an endless amount of lawsuits. This doesn’t even include your heartless comments toward countless individuals and cultures. How can that be good for business?

It also turns out that you’ve had your books ghost written. So that book I was so fond of has become meaningless. I have since taken it off my shelf and likely will never open it again. I’m not even sure what to do with it.

I’m disappointed, but at the same time, I’ve become a much stronger business person. I now understand how powerful branding can be in that it can deceive people and influence them regardless of the truth. And without question.

But this is not just about me, personally. This is about the damage you’re doing to our society and your irresponsible spreading of fear and anger. I find it hard to believe that you have our nation’s best interests at heart when you are intentionally destroying the foundation it was built upon.

As a direct descendant of one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, I can assure you that he and his peers would wholeheartedly disapprove of what you are doing. Jefferson not only wrote the Declaration of Independence and served as our 3rd President, but was our first Secretary of State. He firmly believed that in order for this nation to thrive, we must develop and maintain strong relationships with other nations and cultures from around the world. Over the past year, without even being in public office, you have managed to put that in jeopardy.

However, I believe you are accomplishing something great without intending to do so. As I write this, you are uniting people from all walks of life to stand up for what is right and what is fair. Love will always conquer hate and history has a way of proving that time and time again.

You’re making people stand up for what it means to be an American in a way we have never had to before. As a straight Christian white male whose family has been here since the 1600s, I can assure you that none of these labels have anything to do with what it means to be an American.

On 9/11, I was living in the Washington, D.C. area and my high school was evacuated. Not to downplay the horrific events of that day, but I have never been more concerned for the safety of our fellow Americans than I am right now. And it has nothing to do with Terrorism.

I believe it is our responsibility to leave this world a better place than the one we were born into. As the Father of a young boy, this is especially important to me.

So, my message to you, Mr. Trump, is simple. As you move forward, you must carefully reconsider your rhetoric or be prepared to be eternally written off as one of the most hate filled figures in American history.

I hope you will take this to heart and understand how you’re dividing this country and humanity.

God Bless America.

Alexander Johnstone