An Open Letter to Donald Trump From a Harrisburg, PA Resident


    *The content in this article is purely opinion by a contributing writer. This article does not reflect the views and beliefs of New Theory Staff. *

    donald trump

    Dear Mr. Trump, I heard that you said Harrisburg “looks like a war zone.” Does it? Does it really? Are there buildings bombed to pieces? The bodies’ women and children scattered on the street? Has the Susquehanna run red with the blood of dead soldiers? Have you ever seen a war zone? What about a war movie?


    I can list some if you’d like. That way you can get an idea of what you’re comparing Harrisburg to. Maybe start with some of these: Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, The Pianist, Jarhead… should I go on? I, for one, have never seen a war zone, but I can assure you my dad wouldn’t have compared Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to the jungles of Vietnam. Once again your assumptions, besides being daytime-soap-opera dramatic, are completely incoherent and wrong. Though I am not originally from here, Harrisburg has become my home. And from what I understand, it has grown significantly in the past few years. We have many of the luxuries of a big city like neat coffee shops, restaurants, and local bands and all the benefits of being a small, close-knit community. I’ve never heard of a war zone with a booming farmers market that brings together people from all walks of life, all income levels, and all ages. Our community bonds over local food, coffee, and produce. We support local businesses and promote the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in our little city. There’s a huge flea market every month that brings together local artists and shoppers, the Friends of Midtown host free outdoor movies in the parking lot of a local brewery, and the city pays a yoga instructor to teach free out-door yoga in the garden facing the Susquehanna. Doesn’t particularly sound like a war zone, does it? This isn’t to say Harrisburg doesn’t have its problems; we are a city. There is crime, poverty, and gentrification. The Harrisburg I know isn’t the Harrisburg everyone knows: I’m a young, white, middle-class woman that works for the House of Representatives. I know I experience Harrisburg a bit differently than those that are not in the similar situation. Nonetheless, we are a community, a growing one at that, with relatively low unemployment rates and consistent influx of new residents. Honestly, Mr. Trump, I get it. You like to use 2nd-grade level-wording and buzz words to get a point across. And maybe, as voters, it’s our fault that we don’t like to digest full sentences and policy, but at this point, you’re just insulting our intelligence. We’re fully capable of understanding explanations that address both underlying economic issues and viable solutions. It would have been entirely acceptable to discuss the closing of manufacturing plants in Harrisburg and offer some policy goal as a response. But that’s not what you did, did you? Also, while we’re on the topic of policy, saying “I’m going to fix that” doesn’t qualify as policy. Actually, you never talk legitimate policy, rather you take a perception, a feeling, a fear, and you play on it. You talk about perceptions and feelings like they are inherently factual. You talk about fear like you know it the same way a child fleeing from Syria knows it; the same way a mother living in an actual war zone knows it; the way a veteran living on the street knows it. You say all these things from your podium, talking down to us when you don’t know what it’s like to be us. And your birds’ eye view only solidifies what we already know: You’re not one of us, but you are one of them. One of the elites that you so desperately try to separate yourself from. You’re an insider and your distance from us; from our daily lives and our struggles, is reflected in your limited understanding of our communities, our people, our America. Considering you’ve dished out insults against most of our population including women, families of fallen soldiers, POWs, Muslim-Americans, people with disabilities, immigrants, Republican leadership, etc., insulting Harrisburg doesn’t seem too offensive and honestly I’m not that insulted by what you said, I’m insulted because it is a reflection of your entire campaign: You sit on your throne, look down on our communities, and take your perception of us as fact. Just so we’re clear, that says more about you than it does about us.


    HBG resident, Haley





    • Haley Salera is an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh, current staffer at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and an aficionado of boxed wine. When she isn't stuck in a political debate, she enjoys reading books about strong female protagonists, taking pictures of flowers, and spending Saturdays at the market.

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