Originally posted on Facebook on August 12, 2016
I keep trying to understand Trump and his followers. I can’t seem to do it. I’m no fan of Hillary, but Trump is so far beneath the dignity of a proud nation that I can only comprehend it as a form of self-loathing. Perhaps he is what we think we deserve. I don’t know. He seems like the end of hope.
Our Founding Fathers were not perfect men, and they made terrible compromises to forge a nation, but they did as much as they could given who and what they were at the time. We would not be here today as a unified nation if they had not. Trump would rather burn the nation down than defend this imperfect union.
And I think he knows this about himself; he is an angry child frightened to have finally gotten what he screamed about for years. He’s terrified that he might succeed and have to finally face the consequences of his incompetence. What every petty, mediocre tyrant fears most is a mirror and what is more reflective than the hopeful faces of three hundred million souls?
I cannot believe he will win, because to believe that is to accept that America is not merely flawed but a contemptible farce. If you want to express your rage and shame at the indignity of life and our state in the world, there are better ways to do it than lighting yourself on fire. Maybe not easier ways, but better ways. Trump is the match and the kindling and the gasoline. Scratch this itch and the country will burn.
Fifty years ago our nation drained pools when black women touched them. Yesterday, two black women in Rio showed us power and dignity of a free people. Imagine what they could show us fifty years from now if there is still a country to see it? There is enough hope in just that little that thought, let alone our collective aspirations, to banish the thought of self-immolation from all of us at least long enough to vote for the imperfect rather than the insane.
I do not understand Trump, but I understand what will happen if he is the choice we make. I understand what it’s like to watch hope die, and how you can never really forgive yourself for it. Shame is the only wound a nation can never recover from; it bows your shoulders and bends your neck to the ground so all you can see is the listless shuffle of your feet as you move through a purposeless existence. Shame is hatred, rage and bitterness once the fire has burned out and all that is left are smoking remains of those we thought caused our pain. This is the future that Trump offers us; free of responsibility because we are free of hope.
I do not like Hillary as a candidate. I will never like her and the reasons why are as immaterial as they are extensive; she is clearly competent and intelligent and sane whatever you may think of her relationship with the truth. I will vote for her a thousand times before I use Trump to light my country on fire. That is what you do when you love something; you do the hard thing that has to be done even when it galls you to the point of nausea.
I have hope because I can see an America after Hillary, one that grows stronger and finds itself again after the grotesque narcissism of middle age. I have hope because we are an absurdly unlikely nation, and our very improbability demands faith in our potential. Whether Hillary represents a step forward or backward is irrelevant; she will not knock us of the path that is ours to walk. Only Trump can do that. And only if you let him.
I hope you will do the hard thing, because I know it’s hard.
I hope you will do the right thing, because you must.
I hope above all that you understand this is just a moment in broad expanse of time, and that if we can get past it, we can do better things together.
It’s probably naive, but I don’t have to understand you to know that you also just want a better life for yourself and your children.
At the very least, take the time to really think about it. Close your eyes and imagine that man in the most powerful office in the world. Imagine his casual words in front our enemies and allies, his arrogance and inability to accept responsibility, his instant rage and undying bitterness. Imagine him deciding if your sons and daughters go to war. Are you and your children safe? Are any of us?
Take a deep breath.
Now open your eyes, and vote.