A few weeks ago, on a warm night, I was sitting with an old friend drinking wine on a rooftop. This friend is a longtime Republican, and I, a long time Democrat have been close for many years, and often love to have debates about the politics of the day. However, this most recent hangout, we got into a discussion about "he who shall not be named." Just kidding, we were talking about Donald Trump. I asked her, "Who are your parents voting for?" She paused, and said, "We are voting for Trump." I almost fell out of my chair. My friend, and her wonderful parents are very thoughtful, compassionate and politically savvy people. I was baffled. I spent the rest of the night trying to figure it out.
Me: "How could you vote for a racist?"
Friend: "Oh, he's not racist, he's just lying."
Me: "Ok, how could you vote for a person using racism to win angry white voters!?
The conversation didn't really go beyond that. I was literally too speechless to proceed. It has bothered me since. I didn't know how to manage the many feelings this brought up for me. So I decided to write a letter to my friend, and share it with all of my Republican friends.
Dear Republican Friends and Family,
This is regarding your decision to vote for Donald Trump. It is a problem, and here is why.
#1: He is racist.
But so are you. We all have a racist lens from which we see the world. The structures of American society are based on what Bell Hooks refers to as White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy. It is engrained in our institutions, our cultural norms, and our social customs.
I am not interested in pointing out the racist, here and there, it is more necessary to point out, and fight against the social, political, economic, educational and legal structures that perpetuate and reinforce racism and white supremacy.
What makes you and I different from Donald Trump is that he is using the basic tenets of racism, fear and anger to become the leader of this country. He is using his white male privilege to buy his way into the Presidency.
So let's get past this part quickly. You are racist. Accept it and move forward. Now that we've solved the basic arithmetic on this, it is time to consider the calculus.
There is no middle ground with this issue. You are either racist, or anti-racist. Your support for Donald J. Trump (DJT) is not only a sign that you are complacent with racism (despite your suggestion that his "tax plan" is better for you than Hillary's, I promise you, Hillary will take care of the rich), but that you have lost faith in the democratic process. You have lost faith in your party, and a country that has privileged and supported you for so long.
This is clear in your unwillingness to heed the advice of prominent Republican leaders, who have not uniformly condemned DJT, but are being applauded for making general statements against his racist language. Big Whoop.
Romney, perhaps the most pointed voice on this, has been explicit about his unwillingness to support Trump's racism. Paul Ryan, a man whom I totally disagreed with in regards to policy, but that I once believed had some integrity, has endorsed Trump. He is now starting to smell the Trump and turn up the criticism. Neither of the two living Republic President's support him and pressure from other Republicans has increased in light of Trump's horrible response to the Orlando Shooting.
Just to give you a quick rundown of some of Trump's antics over this election cycle (not an exhaustive list):
July 2015 - Calls Mexicans rapists and criminals to kick off his campaign.
August 2015 - Attacks on women, too many to list, but most recently, his attack on Megyn Kelly of Fox News.
November 2015 - Mocks reporter with disabilities.
December 2015 - Calls for a Ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S.
May 2016 - Attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel because of his Mexican heritage.
Not to mention his incitement of violence at political rallies, his complete inability to tell the truth, and the fact that he has no actual policy plans for this country, except to "Build a Wall" and "Ban Muslims," two ideas, which 1) are completely racist and xenophobic, classic scapegoating, and 2) impractical and just lies.
This election will be historic. Perhaps you will read this, feel bad, but still cast your vote for DJT, and that is your right. But I urge you to first consider, that this decision will go down in history. It will first, be the moment we elected our first women president (a fact, not an opinion), and second, when we rebuked racism and fear: Two pillars of Donald Trump's campaign. He will lose; you will lose. In 10 or 20 years, your daughter, or granddaughter will ask you if you voted for the first women president. And you will have to either lie and say "yes, of course!" or say, "No honey, I supported a racist, misogynistic liar."
You must understand this election is not just about the longstanding differences in policy. This election is about the character of our nation, our values, our morals, and our collective desire to fight for equality.
#2: He is a racist.
And yes, so are you. However, this does not mean you cannot learn to be anti-racist. It is up to you to decided if he stands for what you believe in.
If you still decide to support him, I understand, in no way did I believe this letter would have the ability to change an already made mind. But I must tell you, that I won't be angry. I will be hurt and incredibly disappointed in you. And I will challenge you to be open about it. Discuss it. Explore it. And I promise that I will try and always be constructive and supportive of those discussions.