This post is not funny.
Tonight as I sit in my home, I am within one of a few Congressional districts in the United States whose representatives have endorsed Donald Trump, something that is surely just a hint of the bandwagoning to come.
And I have some things to say.
We are witness to a defining moment in the history of our country. We… the collective “we”; we who differ in so many ways but share this optimism, this spirit, this thing in our hearts that is uniquely American; we who are so entirely what a stalwart assemblage of pioneers hoped and dreamed for nearly 250 years ago; we who command the most influential society on the planet… we are in the midst of something monumental, and we are fucking this thing up.
I have tried to be respectful. I’ve asked calm questions. I’ve gently pointed out anachronisms and hypocrisy. For months I have walked, like a lost toddler clutching a blanket, carrying with me this ardent belief that if only I was patient, if only I was understanding, if only I was logical, that all would be made right again. But what was once a path being meandered by a jalopy is now a racetrack relentlessly pounded by momentum and noise, and I realize: the time for patience has passed. It passed a long time ago, probably, while we were all being respectful, and now it may be too late.
I will be understanding no more. I will be QUIET no more.
What is happening right now is not okay.
The groundswell of support around a candidate who espouses hatred and bigotry, whose platform is built on a philosophy of “us vs. them,” is horrifying.
We are seeing a dangerous ideology take root, and we must stop it now.
There are certain truths to our national character that should be immutable. Our shared identity has flourished on bedrock principles and a moral compass that have affirmed, time and again, that we are a people committed to justice and equality. We’ve shattered traditions in order to guarantee the dignity and equality of all genders, races, religions, sexual orientations. We didn’t do these things when they were easy; we did them when they were hard. We did them when the change had to be birthed through sweat and tears and blood and agony. We did them because they were right.
There have been those among us who resisted. There always will be; this is an unchangeable fact. But the amazing thing about us is that, as different as we are – and we are all so very breathtakingly, beautifully different – we have always wound up with a majority that champions for what’s right. For every one person that engaged in civil rights violence, there were two who joined the Freedom Riders or marched on Washington. For every one that protested a funeral, there were two who donned angel wings and blocked them out.
We are a people of great heart and passion. Our airwaves are flush with mini-drama commercial pleas to help starving children, abused animals… And why? Because we are a people who give. We are a people who root for the underdog, who believe that anyone can be anything, who reject antiquated notions of class and status, who celebrate the unconventional, who struggle through the pains of differences because by God it is hard, fucking hard, to reconcile differences, but we, above all else, stand for truth and fairness and things that are RIGHT, and so we just keep trying.
Yet here we are, allowing our very nature to be gutted by an orange-faced charlatan with stubby appendages and an endlessly running mouth, who hollers lies about the people around us and incites violence and rage within our ranks. He makes disparaging remarks about women, Hispanics, African Americans, Jewish people, the disabled, Muslims. He distributes patently and wildly incorrect statistics regarding interracial violence, regales anyone who will listen with indisputably false stories about 9/11, and has a documented, decades-long record of race discrimination. He praises Vladimir Putin and when asked about Putin’s record of having journalists killed, commends that as “leadership.” He openly encourages his followers to cause violence to anyone with whom he disagrees, advocates torture with unbridled glee, and brags that he could perform murder – MURDER – and be untouchable. He is a psychologically and emotionally deranged bully who lies with an ease that most of us take to discussions of weather.
Donald Trump is a bigot, a misogynist, a xenophobe, a demagogue, and a narcissist. He is utterly without conscience. His campaign makes a mockery of our country.
I do not care if you like that he speaks his mind. I do not care if you think it’s all an act. I do not care if you hate every other candidate.
I just do not care.
There are certain situations in which you take the bad with the good, because the bad isn’t really all that bad and the good outweighs it. But there are some situations in which the bad is so undeniably awful that, as decent, rational human beings, we do not find that there is any measure of good that can compensate for it. Donald Trump, without question, falls into this latter category.
Even if this man were running on the most brilliant platform ever conceived, it wouldn’t matter, because the philosophy he espouses is reprehensible, it is unacceptable, and it is dangerous.
(And let’s just acknowledge that this is not someone who is running on the most brilliant platform ever conceived. His economic plan is so flatly absurd that it would be hilarious if he didn’t have so many damned supporters. His policy positions change with the frequency of a teenager’s mood ring and on the few consistent positions he has, such as immigration policy, his proposals are nothing short of ridiculous, the kind of infantile sputum that most of us take two giant steps back away from.)
This is a man who is telling us who he is. It is imperative that we take him at his word. The candidate who lies so easily will become a leader who manipulates our population. The man who responds to every annoyance by encouraging others to cause violence will become a leader who controls through intimidation and violence. The man who preaches messages of bigotry and hate will divide and diminish us. The man who brags that the rules don’t apply to him and he is above the law, will have no respect for the laws that bind the office of the President and protect our democracy.
No matter what frustrations our people may have, there must be a better solution than Donald Trump. If you have opinions about something that you don’t hear another candidate addressing, then get involved. Write letters, go to meetings, organize a rally, run for local office. If you support any of Donald Trump’s ever-changing positions then I probably don’t agree with you, but I challenge you: find a better way. Because this is the beauty of what our forefathers forged for us: the freedom to influence change, no matter who we are or how small our shadow. I want you to have your voice in our government, even if I disagree with you, but I will tell you right now that Donald Trump does not. He doesn’t want you, or me, or anyone to have a voice. He wants only the voices of sycophants and even then I guarantee you that the instant one of those people has the slightest hesitation or objection, their voice will be stripped as well.
I implore you, please do not fall in behind a man who has the great potential to cause irreparable harm to the fabric of our nation. Don’t give in to the thrill you get when he says something taboo that you’ve been thinking but never had the nerve to say. The thing is, YOU WERE RIGHT. You knew not to say that thing. You knew it was wrong because you are moral and decent and worthy. You knew it was wrong even though you might feel exhausted by trying to understand what fairness looks like in a new age and confused by things that people with other perspectives have to say; you knew it was wrong because even when your mind is frustrated, your heart is good. You are better than Donald Trump and deserving of so, so much more than this candidate who appeals to basest, most shameful parts of human nature.
This isn’t only about Donald Trump. Donald Trump is merely a mouthpiece for something so much more terrifying. He is the latest in a long line of charismatics who advocate for the darkest, ugliest evils of the human spirit. History is spilling over with them, cookie-cutter despots who dress themselves up in finery and deceits, then crush the spirits of their people. We’ve seen it too many times before; we cannot see it again. We are morally bound to recognize the path we are on and to scream until we are red in the face, to rail against it with sharp tongues and fire in our bellies: this is not a journey we are willing to take.
I believe we are better than the America that Donald Trump reflects. And while there are undeniably some who will continue to support him specifically because of his disgusting and bigoted opinions, I have faith that we will rally once again as a majority who are committed to what is right. We need to join together and flood the internet, airwaves, news outlets with our testimony: Donald Trump does not represent OUR United States of America. He doesn’t stand for the things we know to be true. He doesn’t uphold the vision of our founding fathers or the sweat equity poured into this nation by generation upon generation of intrepid souls, our ancestors who literally built this country from the dirt to the sky and filled it not with casinos and luxury condos, but with homes and meeting halls and places of worship and baseball diamonds and parks – the scenery against which we love and laugh and grow together.
We must stop being patient and polite, and start challenging those around us who are trying to rationalize their support of Donald Trump. It’s time to get educated about the political system, research the candidates and issues, and have serious conversations within our families and social circles about what we’re doing with our votes. We need to challenge those who repeat falsehoods, and speak up in defense of the marginalized. This is our duty as Americans, because the only reason we have the immense privilege of living as we do is because the generations before ours did the same for the marginalized of their times.
There have been times in our country’s past when we’ve misstepped, when we’ve allowed atrocities and miscarriages of justice to occur, but I have faith that today we are a people who are fundamentally good, and that our national character will not be swayed by the small-minded and cruel.
I believe in us. I sure as hell hope that you do, too.