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Obama’s Letters and Trump’s Delusions

Unlike former US President Barack Obama, who made a point of reading and responding to letters from ordinary Americans, Donald Trump has ensconced himself in a bubble of self-delusion and sycophancy. But even if his advisers and Fox News will not tell him hard truths, US midterm voters still can.

TOKYO – When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? I don’t mean an email or a text message; nor would I count a dictated message to a machine or a personal assistant. No, I mean an old-fashioned “Dear Donald” or “Dear Hillary” letter.

The reason I ask is that 65,000 people actually did write such letters to Barack Obama every week when he was serving as president of the United States. According to a recent feature in The Guardian, a team of White House staffers would select ten letters each day to pass along to the president, who would then respond to them personally that evening.

Was this nightly ritual a waste of time for the most powerful leader in the world? One might think that Obama would have been better served reading policy briefs on Syria or on the implementation of health-care reform. No doubt, he read those, too. But I suspect that he realized the value of a daily encounter with voters. His ritual was a partial solution to a fundamental problem that all political leaders face: keeping in touch with the real world.

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