To My Trump-Voting Friends
I tried not to write this think-piece. I really didn’t want to. I felt we would reach a point where I wouldn’t have to sit down and, from the comfort of my position as an observer in this election, add my voice to the veritable shitshow this has become. I’m sure you know of my and many others’ grievances with the candidate of your predilection. The brash, unrelenting, and overall tremendously appealing Donald Trump.
I’d like to start by saying it’s fine you like Trump. We all like popular things that aren’t really that great. Some people like McDonald’s coffee, I like Katy Perry’s single “Roar.” People who like McDonald’s coffee still drink it despite the fact that everyone knows it’s basically ground garbage. I know Katy Perry’s “Roar” is full of clichés and its video is HORRIBLE, but you’re gonna hear me roooaaar. It’s also okay because that’s the point. Because we’re allowed to be different and like different things. That’s what makes America great, right?
I kind of like Trump too. As a person who can’t function without making a joke out of the most serious situations, I find him a great target for comedy. And yet, I need to speak because all he does is speak. Playing the media like the celebrity television star he is, Trump is effectively the Kim Kardashian of the election. I’m sure you’ve seen Trump claim he “has the best words” on that John Oliver video. I won’t make as bold a claim, but I will use words against him. Because words are very dear to me.
For the past few months I’ve been working at a news startup. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the place was that despite our political differences (I was the only liberal on the app’s paid staff), we could have polite debates. In fact, I have worn my co-worker’s “Make America Great Again” hat while making a Trump impression (and gotten good notes!).
On Super Tuesday, as I’d left the office, my co-workers started talking about Trump on the office Slack. Eventually, we reached the topic of the “secret New York Times tape” where Trump reportedly shared his “real opinion on immigration.” Supposedly, the tape would show that Trump probably won’t go through with his deportation plan that would destroy the US economy. People say “no illegals = no burritos,” and it’s true.
It’s not true because undocumented immigrants are the only ones who know how to make Mexican food, but because they’re the only ones who will make it for half of a minimum wage while also working three other jobs. My co-workers defended Trump by saying that his “biggest scandal” is that he might turn out not to be a racist, to which I replied “There’s no backsies in hate speech.” I, a legal, Hispanic immigrant, was immediately lectured by a white, heterosexual male on what hate speech is.
This is the real problem with Donald Trump. He is an enabler. He is the voice in the back of scared white people saying: “You’re still right. Your point of view is still the only one that matters.” It’s not. And if knowing you’re right is what makes America great for you, then I don’t think you understand this country.
The results of Trump’s enabling are horrifyingly real. Whether it’s the Muslim bodega owner beat up in Astoria, the Hispanic-looking homeless man beat up in Boston, or the unsettling jeers by a group of white teenagers directed at the basketball team from a more diverse school, Trump is giving people who genuinely believe what he says an “ok” to act upon their hatred. Trump is a school bully who started to hand out bullying hall passes. While I simply experienced the micro-aggression of being lectured on what hate speech is, people of my ethnicity are kicked, insulted, and jeered.
“Stop making this about race,” I hear you say. I can’t. This is about race. And it’s Trump who made it about race. I don’t want to take my chances on whether Trump believes that Mexicans are bringing guns and drugs into the country, or that Muslims can’t be trusted. And if I hear one more time that he’ll change his tune by the time he reaches the primaries, I leave you with the last three paragraphs of a piece on Hitler published by the New York Times in 1922.
So go ahead and vote for Trump. You still like him. I’m not self-deluded enough to believe this post will change anyone’s mind. But don’t claim that he wants to make America great again. That he’s better than ANYONE running for president right now, because you know that he isn’t. Because you know that this aggression and hate speech is happening, and you are willingly choosing to ignore it. America is great. It’s a self-centered, multicultural, thriving mess. It always has been. And it’s people like Trump that diminish its greatness.
*Cue the Star-Spangled Banner as a Hispanic college girl has left her white best friend downstairs, and is about to willingly lose her virginity to a Muslim-American jock with a varsity jacket he got from his neighbor, an Asian-American boy. It’s the Fourth of July in a room at a frat house in Boston, and a bald eagle soars the skies not shedding a single tear for Donald Fucking Trump*