Where presidential politics is concerned, 2016 isn’t my first rodeo, but there’s something about this campaign that’s different from any that has gone before. With Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, my loathing pretty much stopped with the candidate, but this year, with Donald J. Trump, my loathing encompasses his supporters, too.
I’ve been grappling with it for a few weeks now, and mostly I have Facebook to thank, for it’s there that the unmasking of America is taking place. Political memes are flying hither and yon, and the invective has some people saying things like, “I can’t wait for this to be over so things can get back to normal.”
Normal sounds nice, but if normal means forgetting things your friends, family and neighbors are supporting, then I don’t know how we can get back to normal, and I’m not even sure that normal is something I’d want.
I’ve already culled several of my Facebook friends, and even some family members because of the things they’re supporting this political season; I’m thinking it may be time to take another pass through my list.
You’re probably thinking, “Well unfriending someone sounds pretty harsh!” Yeah, but then mass deportation and nuclear war sound pretty harsh, too!
See, this isn’t about mere disagreement, I’ve disagreed with people before and have always gotten over it. In years past, I might have disagreed with someone about defense spending, foreign policy, abortion, environmental concerns, or a host of other issues. After the election, I was able to put it all behind me and get back to normal. I’d bear the burden of a president I didn’t like, once famously making good on a vow to not cut my hair for four years until another Democrat was back in the White House.
Well, I don’t have as much hair as I used to, and that’s not the only reason I think grinning and bearing it might not be possible this year. Here’s why:
When friends and family openly back a candidate who supports hatred of entire ethnic groups, a man who encourages discrimination against one of the world’s major religions, and speaks about our mothers, wives and daughters in the vilest language of a sexual predator, how do we then get back to normal?
You Trump supporters have been unmasked; I know what you stand for.
I ask myself, why would I want to stay friends with a guy who thinks my Hispanic relatives should be herded on the other side of a wall?
Why would I want to maintain an association with a woman who supported the candidacy of a guy who fueled the racist birther travesty against President Obama, solely because he’s a black man?
How can I laugh and share memories with someone who voted for a man they thought might put a few extra dollars in their pocket, but ignored his threat to use nuclear weapons against our enemies, and who hinted broadly that 2nd Amendment supporters could “maybe do something about” his opponent, Hillary Clinton?
These aren’t mere political differences. This isn’t mere Democrat vs. Republican. These people backing Trump, who ignore freely disseminated and fact-checked mountains of material exposing him as the charlatan he is, are wrapping themselves in the flag while pushing an agenda that is the antithesis of the values on which this nation was founded.
Dealing with these delusional “patriots” is a real conundrum for me, and should be for almost everyone in America who knows a Trump supporter, and really, who doesn’t know at least one?
And it’s not just Facebook. Friend, family, virtual or real, what difference does it really make?
How can I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with a guy who openly supported a man who would grab my wife, daughters and granddaughters “by the pussy,” and who relentlessly demeans women everywhere in thought and deed?
Can you do it?
I can’t. I won’t!
You know, it’s clear this country is deeply divided; I’m thinking it’s such a deep divide that it might not be healed in my lifetime. It sure as hell ain’t normal, and maybe that’s a good thing.
When I wake up on the morning of Nov. 9, I don’t see how I can just let bygones be bygones. Nope, not this time. No matter the outcome of this election, I won’t forget your embracing of Trump’s ignorance. I won’t forget that you supported his hateful campaign against my black friends, my Hispanic friends, my gay friends, my Muslim friends and women everywhere. If getting back to normal means forgetting the demon that lurks behind your mask, then normal is not someplace I want to go.
This campaign is the great divider, and a vote for Trump is a vote against all the things I hold a lot more dearly than you.
Really, it’s simple: If you support Trump, then you are an emissary of hate, and in a sense, you unfriended yourself with no action from me. Maybe it was I who hit the button, but it was you who ended the friendship.
Either way, let me be clear: You will not be missed.