There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.
Here’s how the framers wanted this whole thing to work. They envisioned a system where reasonable people would gather, debate the merits of an issue in the halls of congress and come to a reasonable compromise based upon that debate. That was the plan anyway. But you can’t execute that plan when one side refuses to see truth. When one side doesn’t care even when the truth is proven to them.
When I was growing up, I was taught that integrity was important, to never compromise my sense of right and wrong for anyone. My mother encouraged me to think for myself. I learned that while I may disagree with people, I should be respectful of their opinions if the opinion was formed in a good place and based in facts. I learned that with an established set of facts and values, that reasonable people can disagree. My mother formed within me, a solid moral compass.
For most of my life, these were my guiding principals in terms of how to approach issues where someone’s political point of view differed from mine. My viewpoint happens to be liberal, and more in line with what some these days call “democratic socialism”. (I will save unpacking that loaded term for another essay.) My immediate family and many of my extended family (but not all) are typically Democratic and varying degrees of liberal.
My mother, is a former Republican. She left the party after the GOP impeached Bill Clinton. She thought the party had become way to conservative, too hateful, too political and not interested in the greater good. The passage of time has shown two things to be true about that episode in history; that Clinton’s behavior was reprehensible and inexcusable, and also that the Republican party was drifting into scorched earth politics, no matter what the “right thing to do” was.
If you don’t believe me, ask Merrick Garland.
I have a group of people close to me, who have been Republicans their entire lives. I’ve never agreed with their politics. I thought they were dead wrong on every issue. However, I respected their opinions, and was always ready for a healthy debate, which I typically would always win, handily, if I do say so myself. 🙂 Even though I disagreed with them on everything, I respected them. They had opinions, they based them in facts, or at least facts as they understood them, and they were based at least in some part to their understanding of their Christian faith and Catholic upbringing. This was in the days before too much of what passes for Christianity was bastardized and corrupted. (A debate for another essay to be sure.) Sometimes, my arguments would take root. Sometimes their minds would change or at least budge, and sometimes so would mine. I had a lot of respect for them, despite our differences, we shared a common set of core values about the country, about the world, and about good vs. evil.
Then, Donald Trump was elected president. Now I can’t even look at these people and while it may well say more about me than it does of them, I have lost a lot of respect for them, which I doubt can ever be regained.
It is very clear that we do not share a common set of values and maybe we never did.
But is that fair? I think it is, sadly. But it may also be that they are so wrapped up in some fever dream that they have truly lost sight of who they are, how they were brought up.
I can’t simply cut these people out of my lives. If you erase the values issue, which is no mean feat, I have known these people for most of my life, I can’t simply cut them off. I would be lying if I didn’t say that, although I would never tell them this, I truly love them.
How these otherwise reasonable people came to support Donald Trump follows the same path that lots of smarter writers than I have laid out.
In my estimation, the election of Donald Trump is a toxic stew with many ingredients.
- A quirk of arithmetic due to the electoral college.
- A campaign of disinformation between the Russian republic, the NRA, the Trump Campaign and Fox News.
- A divisive Democratic candidate, divisive largely based on a decades long Republican smear. For many of these people’s entire lives, they have been trained to literally hate Hillary Clinton(and all ‘liberals”), so much so that they were willing to throw away everything they heretofore believed. So much so that they would quite literally abandon their values and their morals. So much so that even provable facts would not alter their opinion, this is the power of constant propaganda. So much so that they would abandon their country and never knew it.
Hate is that powerful. Since the 2016 election, a day that history will remember as the darkest day in our nation’s history, I’ve been wallowing in hate of my own for Trump supporters and I think my aim has been off on that one. Hate is not something that comes easy to me, and is the antithesis of everything I believe in.
I will admit that my human reaction to Donald Trump may well be hatred. I think that hate in that case may be justified, if it ever is. Donald Trump is a man, so full of evil, so full of every bad thing a human can be, and a man that as president is enacting policies that literally hurt people and hurt the country and the world. There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a White Supremacist, a wannabe dictator and he has at his disposal a cowardly and morally bankrupt republican party. His ascendance to the presidency has given license to millions of his followers to allow their own personal racism to be expressed publicly and no longer just mumbled under their breath when they are so horribly offended by black athletes knelling in peaceful protest.
If I can’t hate that, than what is worthy of hate right?
But is it hate?
This is not a simple case of my being on the other side politically from a party in power and it’s followers. This is something different. This is not normal. This is right vs. wrong, good vs evil and there has never been such a clear example of it in my lifetime.
I don’t wish Trump any ill will. I just want him out of office as quickly as possible. I want his ideology to be soundly repudiated and our country to be repaired from the damage caused by his disgusting regime. I don’t particularly care if he goes to the big house as long as he’s out of the White House.
What I wish for, is a better vision for a country that right now, is an unmitigated mess.
Hate can’t achieve that goal. Anger can be employed to raise consciousness, but hate can’t get the job done. We will beat them because our passion of hope will beat their vision of “American Carnage” We will beat them because our ideas and values are better.
I refuse to allow the hateful lack of decency of this regime and it’s followers put hate into my heart.
But make no mistake, the Trump regime, by any measure of what used to be considered decency, is evil, pure evil.
Which brings me to the place in my heart that makes it so hard. What do I do with my emotional response to these folks I am close to? I am tired of being angry in my heart, tired of having to hold my tongue for the sake of harmony for other members of the family. I am in no mood to “work with” these people, nor should I have to. If these people weren’t related to me in various ways, I would show my contempt for their position outwardly. That would be bad. But I’m not so sure it’s much better to allow my contempt for their distorted values to wallow inside me creating rage.
This summer, I had an epiphany. The anger that made me hate gave way to sadness. I feel sad for these people and maybe the sadness was what was making me angry after all.
- They don’t know that the stupid MAGA hat they wear will one day be seen in the same light as a swastika, or a white hood.
- They don’t know what they sound like when they say how happy they are that their new baby will be born in a country with Donald Trump as president. That is a direct quote I heard.
- They don’t know that there is a wrong side to history sometimes and they will have to answer to their position in the face of pure evil, racism and cruelty.
Given the opportunity I might say this to them:
“You guys used to be conservative! You used to make judgements based on moral character. You called yourselves “values voters”. What happened to that? Was that all a lie?
A conservative would have been offended when a progressive such as myself proposed adding to the deficit for some social program. ‘Deficit hawks’ you called yourselves, but now you deliberately balloon up a massive deficit so rich people can get a tax break. Where are the ‘deficit hawks’ now?
A conservative knows that our strength in the world is based on the credibility of America. America stands by its word. America stands with our traditional post war allies, he doesn’t insult them in one breath while praising a murderous Russian autocrat in the next.
A conservative is a free trader, that knows that negotiation is the key to striking deals where in the end, everyone wins. A conservative doesn’t start trade wars with no strategy that will end up hurting Americans. A conservative knows that allowing a deal that helps each side does not mean that the US is somehow getting screwed.
A conservative respects law enforcement, not just the ones that aren’t investigating him.
An American does not kidnap babies and keep them in cages to punish the parents for seeking asylum, and then lose some of them. They had no plan to put these families they have broken back together again. That is what you believe in these days?
Conservatives were, and rightfully so, offended by people like me when we defended Clinton for his behavior in the oval office with an intern. He took advantage of his position for seduction. It was wrong. I know that, but conservatives think it’s okay for someone to brag about sexual assault if he will pack the judiciary for them.
In order to beat so called “liberals” it’s okay to endorse child molesters for the senate and honest to goodness Nazis for the house?
Where is the tipping point on this guy?
It wasn’t his litany of racist lies? He’s been spewing them for years, remember when he was so incredulous that a black man could be elected president that he perpetrated a conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the US? Challenging his legitimacy? Remember that racist lie?
How about the time he said a judge of Mexican decent couldn’t do his job appropriately because he was Mexican, remember that? That’s not a tipping point?
Mexicans are rapists and murderers. That didn’t do it?
People who march with Nazis are fine people. That didn’t do it?
And as I write this, all evidence seems to indicate that Trump’s campaign worked in a conspiracy against the United States, with a foreign adversary to influence the 2016 presidential election, in a direct threat to our democracy and our sovereignty. Everyone around the world knows that a bad thing, except Trump supporters, who think the ends justify the means.
What happened to you? Was this poison in your bloodstream all this time and I never knew it?
You used to be better than this.
Or was that a lie too?”
At some point, maybe sooner than later, Trump will be out of office, and soon enough after that, maybe reasonable governance will return to our nation.
At some point I am sure our discourse will return to reason and even the GOP, who I never agree with, will at least be populated with decent human beings.
But I wonder if I will ever trust their judgement again.
In the meantime, I pray that the damage inflicted by this monster they support is somehow mitigated by better angels.
I pray that the children yanked from their parents with no plan to reunite them, will one day be reunited. I suspect however we will forever know the term “Trump Orphans”.
I pray that my side, the left, the true values voters, will know that the only way to conquer hate is through love.
There will be bumpy days ahead, and I pray we maintain our desire for truth and for justice.
I pray for peace.
I’m counting on love. I have to.
Check out this song by Jess Novak(who’s awesome)….kinda says it all.
Thanks for letting me rant a little bit.
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