An Open Letter to Ivanka Trump
I believe we must always keep an open line of communication with those we don't gree with and the person on your side of this election I would enjoy having a cup of coffee with is you.
As a supporter of Hillary Clinton the election didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. This isn’t the first campaign where my hopes were dashed. But the fight for the things I believe in and care about goes on.
Ivanka it would be great to have the opportunity to share with you how I lived my life. It is my conviction you would understand where those like myself are coming from and as senior adviser to your father that could be important and helpful as you help mold the administration.
My history is like many others who grew up in New York City as first generation Americans. My father immigrated from Germany and my mother from Austria to escape the Nazis. My dad’s parents were killed in Auschwitz. He joined the U.S. Army going back to Europe to fight.
Their experiences and teaching influenced how I live my life. Early on I got involved in Democratic politics. First supporting local New York politicians and then JFK. Demonstrating against the Vietnam War and graduating City College of New York during those turbulent times led to becoming a teacher in Harlem. From there, a career in government. First working for Rep. Bella S. Abzug, then coordinator of Local Government for Mayor Abe Beame. Then moving to Washington as executive director of the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals/Implementation Unit in the Carter Administration. Then 35 years as CEO of national non-profits in the education and healthcare areas. Along the way fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, disability rights and, after I came out, for LGBT rights.
Ivanka, listening closely to your speech at the Republican National Convention it sounded like you would be a sympathetic ear.
You are obviously an intelligent and successful woman. You would likely have been successful even if you hadn’t been born a Trump. Of course your success came quicker because of having a wealthy family and access to capital and connections. But life has proven to me many people with those connections can still relate to the rest of us.
My interest in meeting you is the chance to share some thoughts that could shed light on issues as you advise your dad.
The fact is your father and I are contemporaries. We both grew up at the same time in New York City. Due to the circumstance of our births our lives took incredibly different paths. We were impacted in dramatically different ways by what was happening in the world as we grew up.
From what I have read about your life your mom brought you up to understand a world a little different from that of your dad. Today you have adopted the religion I was born into and are bringing up three children. Money doesn’t exempt you from the issues involved in balancing work and family or the vagaries of daily life and making the myriad decisions to deal with the world around us.
Those who share my views will continue to fight hard for the world we believe in. As a gay man I will never go back into the closet. My mom and Bella educated me on how important it is to guarantee full equality to women. My parents’ lives and a meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr. when I was in high school helped forge my views on civil rights. My life, friends, and travel have shown me living in a diverse society makes us all better. My gut feeling is you wouldn’t disagree with that.
Demonstrations are important, as long as they stay non-violent. They are a way for people to speak out, release their frustrations and anger at the life that often hasn’t been fair to them, their families and friends. Our constitutional right to demonstrate and speak out is part of what makes America great.
I really believe having an opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you in a respectful conversation could be valuable. Ivanka, I hope you might consider giving me the opportunity to do so.
This article was first published in the Washington Blade.