I had to compromise on my vote for president this year, and I am hoping this draws us together, you and I, because I’m guessing that every single voter had to compromise. No voter had the choice of their absolute perfect candidate on the ballot – this is probably even true for the candidates themselves, because politics is a practice of compromise. Assuming that we all had to compromise, I want to give the benefit of the doubt to people who voted differently than I did – for example, I can assume that they’re not sexist and racist (some of the observed traits that made me, personally, not vote for Trump) because there were a lot of issues at stake in the election, not just civil rights like gender equality and racial equality, and I can’t pretend to know exactly what motivated each individual Trump voter. But I have questions for current supporters of – or, I’d prefer to say: apologists for – Trump.
First, please know that I’m just a regular guy, trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense to me, and my personal method of making sense of the world is through writing – this way prevents me from being flippant: I’m less inclined to write things from a default knee-jerk automatic perspective than I am when I’m talking because 1) when I write I see my words on the page or screen and I realize that I will be held accountable to them – these written words right here, which I’ve authored, represent my perspective, and now you know it and you can quote my words, for better or worse, and I need to be prepared to be known by these words and to defend my perspective – whereas when I talk I can backtrack and rephrase and say, “no, that’s not really what I mean,” etc., and 2) when I write I have more time to be precise than during a live in-person conversation. So, these are my thoughts. And if you read this, please realize you’re reading the thoughts of a regular guy – I work, I pay my taxes, I come home to my family – and not someone with any ulterior motive except to try to figure out what doesn’t make sense to him, that is, to me.
I want to write about when we choose to draw a line, in this case, when we deem something unacceptable and we’re not willing to compromise. However, I realize that my framework assumes that a line needs to be drawn. So once I start on my actual topic I will already have revealed that my mind’s made up and that I think too many lines have been crossed, and readers who are inclined to disagree with me will automatically retreat to their side of the line, and nothing will change and we’ll continue to be combative and antagonistic, a nation bifurcated. Possibly. But I’m not asking for a recount, I’m just asking for understanding. I try to be open-minded, but there are some things I really don’t understand, and I don’t know what to do about that except put my words out there in the hope that, as I’ve thought through them enough to write them down, they may actually convince someone, and the world will then make a little bit more sense to me. Or, alternatively, someone can respond and try to help me understand what doesn’t currently make sense to me.
What doesn’t make sense to me is the continued excusing of what seems to me to be Donald Trump’s inexcusable behavior, and I would like to know from Trump apologists where they might draw the line, if not at the following points.
Is it when he put out a full-page newspaper ad calling for the execution of 5 brown-skinned boys (the so-called “Central Park Five”) who were wrongly arrested for rape and later exonerated through DNA evidence? (Now this man with evident bias and a questionable sense of justice will be in charge of nominating at least one Supreme Court Justice.) If that’s excusable, how about the fact that he has never apologized for this? (Maybe asking for an apology is a silly thing and I need to move on from such petty requests as making certain that my president believes in a system of justice where people are innocent until proven guilty.)
Is it when he claimed billionaire status and also claimed that not paying taxes makes him smart? (Yeah, but what do taxes really pay for … except for our infrastructure and schools and police and military and environmental protections and consumer rights and….)
Is it when he has claimed that he will release his taxes (as every president in the history of our nation until now has done) and he doesn’t release them? (But clearly he doesn’t have anything to hide. It’s not like he has business dealings around the world and many lawsuits filed against him … of course we all know he does.)
Is it when he cheated earnest students out of an education at Trump University? Is it when he settled the case for $25M without ever apologizing? (Yes, but how can we really put an accurate value on education? Again, wasn’t it just a smart business decision, in this case for him to defraud innocent students?)
Is it when he installed for himself a golden throne? Is it when he turned his own name into a brand? (Okay, maybe this stuff is excusable even though it is disgustingly egotistical, because I guess you have to have a certain amount of hubris to run for President, so maybe I should let him off the hook. After all, now he’s going to be President, not a businessman … it’s just his own children who will run his business [no conflict of interest there! not when they’re already sitting in on meetings with foreign dignitaries], and his son-in-law who will be in his Cabinet, and his name that continues to be sold out and funneling money back to the Trump family, and….)
Is it when he bullied the other Republican presidential candidates, domineering the debates and creating slanderous monikers for his rivals? Is it when you realized he continues to pick fights with has-been celebrities even while he’s campaigning to be President of the United States of America? Is it when he mocked a disabled guest at one of his own political rallies? (But it’s not like he’s setting an example for the rest of the nation….)
Is it when you learned that he ranks women on a scale of 1 to 10? (Maybe that’s not enough to demonstrate his illegitimacy to be president on account of his obvious sexism.) How about when footage is released of him as a 60-year old man bragging that he’s so famous that he can grab women “by the pussy”? (That’s his language, by the way. But I guess we don’t have actual footage of him grabbing women “by the pussy,” so maybe I just need to accept that his style of “locker-room talk” [his language] is acceptable and that women are really just objects to grope.)
Is it when he ridiculed Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of a U.S. soldier who died while fighting for our country? Or when he defended his action by trying to explain how much he has sacrificed for the country? (It’s not like he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth … it was probably gold.)
Is it when he perpetuated a silly but slanderous rumor that our President, Barack Obama, was not born in the United States?
Is it when he co-opted all of the major U.S. news media outlets for nearly a whole day, promising a big announcement, which boiled down to one really old bit of news (that our President of 8 years, Barack Obama, was, as all evidence has always shown, born in the United States) and one false bit of slanderous news (the bogus claim that Hillary Clinton started the “birther movement” challenging Obama’s right to be president, a campaign for which Donald Trump himself had been a major – if not the major – advocate)?
Is it when he threatened to not accept the election results? Is it when he tweeted with no evidence that millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton, and again with no evidence – in fact, with all evidence to the contrary – tweeted that he actually won the popular vote? (And then why is it that he doesn’t want a recount?)
Is it when, after winning the election, he named as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor: Stephen Bannon, a man who has run a white supremacist news outlet? Is it when he named as Attorney General: Jeff Sessions, a man who believes in water-boarding and doesn’t believe in equal pay for women; believes in halting Muslim immigration and doesn’t believe in the Voting Rights Act; believes in wire-tapping without warrant and doesn’t believe in equal rights for our LGBTQ population?
Is it when he implied that Mexican immigrants are rapists? (Surely he didn’t imply that Mexican immigrants are all rapists? Judge for yourself; here’s what he said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. […] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Oh, thank goodness: although he knows that they’re rapists, he also assumes that some of them are good people. Given his sexist rhetoric and the footage of him in the “Access Hollywood” video aforementioned, perhaps he’s claiming that they’re rapists and good people.)
Is it when he claimed, “Islam hates us”? (Oh, maybe he’s right, it’s not like Islam is one of the world’s major religions … oh wait, I guess about one quarter of the world’s population is Muslim.) If his quote is not antagonistic and irresponsible and inaccurate enough, do you draw the line when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”? (It’s not like we’re a country of immigrants founded on religious freedom and non-discrimination!)
Is it when, after a Broadway cast politely thanked the Vice President-Elect for attending their show and then made a polite public plea to the VP-Elect, Trump demanded via Twitter, “Apologize!”? (Yeah, but it’s not like he’s the President-Elect and will be our Commander in Chief with the world’s largest military and intelligence apparatus at his command. His threat doesn’t really matter, right?)
And this brings me back to the beginning of my list. I guess if the President Elect can demand an apology for polite civil discourse then it’s not unreasonable for me to request an apology for his impolite behavior, which is not presidential, not American, and just plain unacceptable. Let’s call it what it is – sexist, racist, rude – and demand better behavior of our President Elect, regardless of how you voted.