Opinion

Renée Graham

Dear President Trump

Yeah, “President Trump” sounds weird to me, too.

So what if the majority of voters cast ballots for your opponent, and you’ve entered the White House with appalling low approval ratings?

You lead this nation and its 319 million people, many of whom remain unconvinced that you are capable of making anything beyond your own cash coffers great again. This time, you are “The Apprentice” in a position that has the potential to devour even those who have spent their lives grinding in public service. In your first speech as president, you said, “The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.” You claimed, “I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.”

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Your new employers, the American people, will hold you to that pledge every hour of every day for the next four years.

More than 62.9 million people voted for you, but you cannot be their president alone; you must also serve the 65.8 million-plus who voted for your opponent. Remember them? They’re the people you’ve called “losers,” “haters,” “thugs,” the ones who, shortly after your election, made #NotMyPresident and #NeverMyPresident into trending hashtags on social media. They’re citizens with still unanswered questions about your tangled ties to Russia, and the mounting conflicts of interest you tried to bury under prop stacks of paper and manila folders at your combative press conference.

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These are the folks anxious that you have chosen as education secretary someone who won’t rule out defunding public schools; as secretary of state someone who is a Vladimir Putin pal and has a pretty medal to prove it; and as energy secretary someone who thought the job merely entailed being a globe-trotting good ol’ boy for the oil and gas industry.

The Americans who worry about your Cabinet picks will not be overlooked for the next four years.

Nor will the women who demand control of their own bodies and reproductive choices, the lesbians and gay men who fought long and hard to gain the right to marry, or the college-bound Dreamers who fear deportation from the only nation they have ever really known.

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Your constituency isn’t a sea of red “Make America Great Again” caps. You cannot exclude or ignore those with whom you disagree, and their numbers are legion. Whatever your plans for this nation, understand that America will never be great without them.

In your oath of office, you swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” So it’s time to behave as if you are also beholden to the rule of law, not above it. Should you get confused about your constitutional obligations — or believe being president allows you to disregard them — Gold Star parent Khizr Khan likely still has the pocket edition of the Constitution that he offered to lend you when he movingly spoke about his dead son, a Muslim army captain, at last summer’s Democratic National Convention.

President Trump, you are the most powerful man in the world, at least until Putin decides to cut you down instead of propping you up. You lead a nation as polarized as it has been in any moment in its history — divisions you exploited and deepened for political gain. You enter the White House without a mandate and millions poised to challenge and protest your every move.

From the beginning of your campaign, all you wanted was respect, attention, and adulation. What you got was the presidency of the United States.

Enjoy your weekend off. You start your new job Monday. Our work has already begun.

Renee Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham
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