Throughout the primaries, I was on the fence between Bernie and Hillary. Eventually, I started leaning toward the latter, but I refrained from posting anything on Facebook, because I know and love and respect so many diehard Bernie-supporters and saw how quickly pro-Hillary statuses were co-opted by arguments.
Arguing on the internet is rarely a thing I've seen end productively, and is definitely not a thing I wanted to do with my friends -- especially friends with whom I agreed on so many things. So, you know, why not post something funny instead? Or something about Hamilton. Everybody loves Hamilton.
But then I read Trump's words from today in New Hampshire, and I broke my Facebook silence to ask my friends to do the same. To actually read them, rather than watching the video, so that you can't be distracted, as I think we all often are, by his Trumpyness: the oh-so-funny way he talks, the hair, the "tiny hands," the stock character mannerisms we love mocking so much. Read them out loud if you can. Try to hear them as if someone else said them, someone less laughable, someone whose name had no face associated with it in your mind before the election cycle started.
We all shared John Oliver's Donald Drumpf video, applauding it as if it was a triumphant game-changer -- let's try out his thesis again. Take the Trump out of Trump's speech and read his words, as best as you can, as if they were spoken by any other candidate. Personally, I'd never read this many of his words before, never visually been able to trace the way he contradicts himself from one line to the next, never separated the text from the character who speaks it.
Read these words, the whole speech, every insidious line of dangerous, doublespeak nonsense, and then: remind me why you'll "never vote for Hillary."
Actual lives are on the line. Even in Massachusetts, where I live, where "of course Hillary's going to win" -- even here, no matter how many ways you can rationalize it, no matter how broken you believe the two-party system is, no matter how broken it actually may be--write-in votes for Bernie, votes for third parties, and decisions not to vote are as good as votes for Trump.
But Trump could never win here, Tyler! Massachusetts always votes blue.
Except -- um, except that we have a Republican governor? Except that we elected Romney? Except that we voted for Reagan twice? Yes, we have a pretty blue streak in recent presidential elections. Do you really want to risk breaking that trend for a man who wants to create a "tolerant and open society" by shutting our borders and banning Muslims from the country? For a man who suddenly believes that he is "the friend of women and the LGBT community" for supporting that ban, despite every other hateful thing he's said over the course of this campaign?
Even in the most sure-thing blue states, we need to unite against Trump.
I've been wrestling with this post. Maybe I should just stay silent about politics, about the election, about yesterday's violence. After all, not every conversation is aided by adding one's own (very privileged) two cents. I'm sure that I don't have anything new to add that hasn't been better articulated by a thousand voices before mine, voices closer to the tragedy in Orlando, voices too often silenced in the communities affected. I can't imagine what yesterday was like for those who lost a person they love. I can't imagine what yesterday was like for those who lost a refuge, a gathering place, a day that was supposed to be about celebration. I can't say anything new about any of those things, and I sincerely hope you seek out those voices who can.
What I can do is add one more voice to the chorus calling for change.
We need background checks. We need an assault weapons ban. We need the small, common sense measures and the big, sweeping changes. We need to do everything we can do. And doing any of those things -- making any progressive change -- is going to get a LOT more difficult with a Trump presidency. Let alone preventing the damage he can do in the other direction.
If nothing else, maybe I can do a tiny bit to help normalize millennial support for Hillary. Even more specifically: straight, cis, white, male, millennial support, because I haven't seen very much of that at all, and I don't think that particular segmented silence is coincidental. It's a lot easier to decide you "just could never vote for" someone when your identity isn't being called into question by her opposition, when your life isn't being threatened by her opposition's followers.
To my fellow straight, cis, white men: in all likelihood, Trump is not going to win female voters, or black voters, or Latinx voters, or LGBTQ+ voters, or any other marginalized group of voters. If he wins, it's going to be because of people like you and me.
Either because we voted for him directly, or, by putting our "principles" above the actual lives of people who would be much more directly affected than us by the repercussions, we allowed it to happen.
So: I dare you. Read Trump's words. Remember that there are real people, full human beings who have a lot in common with you and me, who are actually listening to him, believing him, whose worldviews are being shaped and whose prejudices are being corroborated and solidified by the man you've been laughing at for the last year.
Please: do something about it.
This post was originally posted on Medium.com on Monday, June 13, 2016.
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