It’s been more than 18 months since you came to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention and appeared on the cover of this magazine.
Back then, we were worried what your arrival here would be like. After a divisive campaign run-up, the stakes were high. “It expects to be a reality-TV spectacle starring the most unusual candidate in history: Trump, a billionaire-mogul-turned-TV-celebrity-turned-authoritarian-nationalist,” we wrote.
Would there be violence like we’d seen at some rallies? Would our very blue city be able to successfully roll out the red carpet for the Grand Old Party? Or would we find some way to flame out like we’d done so many other times on so many other huge stages?
By most accounts, the city performed well — rave reviews, you might even say. In fact you even tweeted as much: “What a great four days in Cleveland. So proud of the great job done by the RNC and all. The police and Secret Service were fantastic!”
During those days in July 2016, it was exciting to be around the political process. I was in the arena every night to hear the speeches. I even wore one of your Make America Great Again hats for a picture.
But witnessing the chants of “Lock her up” about your opponent, Hillary Clinton, and your dark vision of America in that closing night speech were also troubling. I like to see the best in people and good that is all around us. But that was difficult to do. Since then, your almost constant barrage of tweets, lies, firings and attacks have made it even more so.
That’s why I’m encouraged by Samantha Schaedler, an eighth-grade American history teacher and mother of three boys. Her American Stories Project sends you a letter every day during your presidency with the only rules being, Is it kind? Is it true? Is it positive? Since you’ve taken office, that’s more than 500 letters about grandparents, police officers, teachers, immigrants, athletes, politicians, service members and plenty of regular folk who make America great.
It’s probably naive to think you’ve read many of them or any at all. But it’s worth it. Because as a teacher of American history, Schaedler understands why her project matters. “It’s the democratic process,” she says, “and we should celebrate the democratic process.”