Dear friends and loved ones of mine,
If you voted for Donald Trump, we can still be friends, and I still love you. I understand that for many of you, the prevailing issues revolved around the loss of your livelihood or your insurance, or your distrust of Washington politics and a desire to shake it all up and see if some ‘outsider’ could remake government in the image you prefer. For others of you, this was a moral stance revolving around your interpretation of your faith, and a desire to secure a conservative majority in our judiciary branch that will uphold your belief system in our nations’ courts. Whatever your reason, it is your right as an American, and as a human being with free will, to vote as you choose and I honor that wholeheartedly.
However, the candidate you elected is a man of odious character, a man who has lived his life far removed from the lives of ordinary citizens for the whole of his existence. He may be an outsider to politics, but he is part and parcel of the ruling elite that has oppressed us all and hijacked our government, so I am charging you with holding him accountable to your will. You have given immense power to a man who has shown little respect for the interests of anyone but his own social class, of which you and I are not a part.
The candidate you elected is a bully and a cheat. He uses his wealth and status to break signed contracts made with honest business people with impunity, and yet you have entrusted him with championing the cause of the working class. It is true that he may lift regulations that will bring back jobs in the energy sector, but at what cost? Our climate is warming. You may want to believe that it is just the natural ebb and flow of our planet, but science has shown that the emissions of combusted petroleum has a direct and measurable effect on the temperature of Earth. It would be wise of us to not add to what is already happening, whatever the source. It would be truly great of us to be innovators and lead the world in the creation and adoption of new technologies that provide for our needs (including jobs) while also addressing the needs of our habitat.
The candidate you elected used derogatory and hateful speech to describe our immigrant citizens, and did not forcefully rebuke the white supremacists among us. If you are White and voted for this man but are not a bigot or a racist, I am going to need you to prove that beyond a statement that you aren’t. I need you to open yourself to the idea of institutionalized racism, and I implore you, in the privacy of your home and head, to explore the contents of your mind honestly. I ask you to please read essays and books like ‘The New Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander or ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and if you can’t commit to reading then please watch ‘13th’, a documentary that is currently streaming on Netflix. Educate yourself about what being a person of color in this country has meant, please, and consider that the anger and frustration you feel at ten to fifteen years of instability in your workplace is a lifelong reality for POC in these United States. Try to imagine their desperation and empathize with it. If you are not a reader, then get involved with the Boys and Girls Club or some other entity invested in the fight for the equality of all our citizens, or donate some money to organizations that fight for the rights of people of color and immigrants. And above all, if you see or even hear an immigrant or POC being abused, then get your non-bigot self in that fight and stand up to whomever is doing it, because your credibility is now on the line.
The candidate you elected has a recorded history of believing he has the right to sexually assault women if he finds them attractive and did nothing to censure the rampant misogyny displayed by many of his supporters on their shirts, buttons and bumper stickers, or in their chants which rang through his rallies in swells. If you cannot win your position without being abusive, then I lose respect for your position. I ask that you show your disapproval of your candidate’s treatment of women by opposing any moves he may make to dismantle Title IX or any other legislation our current administration passed on behalf of abused women in this country. I also ask that you be a part of the very important conversation surrounding consent that is happening right now so that we can build a world where everyone, men and women alike, knows exactly what constitutes rape and therefore doesn’t do it.
The candidate you elected has surrounded himself with extreme social conservatives with Fundamentalist religious beliefs that you may very well share. Once upon a time in my life, I too would have voted for this man, solely for this reason. I would have looked past all his unsavoriness and unfitness for this office so that I could participate in making God’s laws the law of the land. Today I believe that behavior to be a form of American theocracy, and I vehemently oppose such activity. Jesus’ followers begged him to be an earthly king, and he declined. Please consider that the repealing of the freedom of marriage act would only serve to alienate people from your mission. If you are accepting of LGTBQ people, even if you disapprove of their lifestyle, you will likely have to show that by protecting their rights, not stripping them away. All love is legitimate and deserves the protection of law. I suspect that Roe vs. Wade is also in your crosshairs, and since I was once indoctrinated against abortion, I feel I understand your resolve, and doubt you will be swayed by stories of women and girls who made one of the most difficult decisions of their lives, so I guess consider me your respectful yet determined opponent on this topic.
The very worst of our collective selves came out in this election and we are weary. It will take the very best of all of us to heal up from this harm, and prevent it from continuing. We will all need to reach beyond ourselves and our insulated bubbles to make it through together. I pledge to you, my friends on the other side of this chasm, to defend your right to vote as you please, and I will stand up against any abuse I see leveled against you for this choice. I pledge to hold myself to these same standards that I am asking of you. I will also do my best to understand and respect your beliefs and experiences, and will not assume that I know your character because I know the way that you voted. Things are seldom as simple as that, and people never are.
Above all, please know that I am available for conversation and remain grateful for your presence in my life.
Much love and hope-