I need to get this out of my system so that I can finish grieving, and processing, and then move on to finding ways to actually help people. So:
Dear Trump Supporters,
I am trying not to lump you all in one group. I am trying to practice empathy, and to remember that no, the majority of you probably aren’t racist or misogynistic or homophobic on a day-to-day basis. But if you’re so inclined to read it, this post helps explain why the results of this election have had me crying off and on for the past 48 hours.
Look, I personally will probably be OK under a Trump administration. I’m straight, able-bodied, and cis-gendered. I am a woman, which could be problematic, and I am half-black, which could also be problematic. But my field is female-dominated, particularly at my office location, and I look white enough that Trump’s various racial profiling plans probably won’t hit me. My health insurance comes through my employer, so I don’t have to worry about losing it. My personal life might not change that much.
But especially in my expanded online circles, I have a lot of friends for whom Trump’s stated policies are a huge problem. (Again, read this link for what those problems are, and why many of us are worried for ourselves or for loved ones.)
And, to be honest, Trump Supporters, the analogy provided in this post helps explain why I’m struggling to be empathetic toward you.
If you don’t want to read that, though, I’ll say this: Like many of you, I’m a Christian. In my opinion, if Christ were physically among us today—Christ, who treated women, even those of differing nationalities, with respect and consideration; who was not white; who said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”; whose first followers were selected from people other teachers rejected; who called for his followers to aid the poor and weak; who healed the sick; who humbled himself before others even though he was the Son of God; whose ministry and teachings were built upon empathy and compassion for others—I don’t believe he would have supported Trump.
So that’s why I’m struggling to be empathetic with you. But as I said, Christ’s model for me is empathy and compassion, so I’m trying. (This is much harder—and right now impossible—for me to manage with people who have expressed outright hatred and violence toward others. I’m not that Christ-like. I also suspect he would have condemned them as he did the Pharisees.)
I get that many of you felt Clinton was unsuitable for the office. I don’t believe that her faults outweigh Trump’s, so to be honest, that point doesn’t help me much on the empathy count.
But I do get that many of you are struggling. Articles like this one made me consider how a lot of you have been facing the reality of losing not just your way of life, but your livelihoods. No jobs, in dying communities, and with no way to leave. It made me think how people, when faced with that kind of desperation—even if they haven’t worded it as such to themselves—will take any perceived port in a storm. Because they’re sinking, they’re dying, and what else can they do?
So when you hear that a policy is “more of the same,” you conclude that that isn’t what you need. It won’t help you and yours. And in our two-party system, you take the avenue that gives you the greatest chance for change. The greatest chance for life. I can understand that. I can empathize with that. If that’s why you voted for Trump, I’m sorry. Because you’ve needed help for a long time, and haven’t gotten it.
I have to admit, though, I don’t believe you’ll get that help from Trump. Manufacturing jobs are disappearing due to automation; they’re not “just” being moved overseas. The oil and gas industry is dying because those resources are are finite and won’t last forever. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you have to admit we can’t keep using those indefinitely. I don’t think Trump has a solid plan of supporting you. I don’t believe that things will be better for any of us, under Trump.
But I say with all sincerity that I hope you are right and I am wrong.
I hope you’re right, and that you do get your jobs back, and that your communities thrive again.
I hope you’re right, that Trump’s demonstrated misogyny and racism, which stretch back for over three decades, are not true indicators of his character.
I hope you’re right, that his avoidance of paying taxes for 20 years makes him a patriot, not a con man.
I hope you’re right, that 97% of scientists are wrong and climate change isn’t real.
I hope you’re right, that running a country like a business will work out for the best, even though the country will be run by a man whose businesses have failed.
I hope you’re right about all of that, because I don’t want this country to collapse. I want us to do better and to thrive.
But I gotta say: my hope that you’re right is a small, weak thing, easily dwarfed by my doubt. Because Trump’s policies speak to me of fear-mongering, and denial of truth, and division.
Nevertheless, I do hope you’re right and I’m wrong. I’m praying for it.
I am also literally praying that Trump will have some sort of Saul-on-the-way-to-Damascus revelation. I think he needs it. For all our sakes.
But in the meantime, we have a lot of work to do. I hope you realize that, as well.