Rejecting Trumpism: Childishness or Something Else?

Donald Trump is the president-elect. Hillary Clinton gave a gracious concession speech, telling her supporters that we owe Trump “an open mind and the chance to lead.” Yet many of her supporters are not passively accepting Trumpism. Instead anti-Trump protesters have taken to the streets. Others have begun wearing safety pins. Some are “unfriending” Trump supporters on social media. The question is, why?

Trump supporters, along with those who are anxious to quit talking about politics, have an answer to this question. They call these rejections of Trumpism “childishness” or “special-snowflake syndrome.” They call anti-Trump protests “tantrums.” Over the past few days, I have repeatedly seen this meme on Facebook:

I find the message underlying this meme, and this general language of “childishness,” deeply troubling. This meme in particular perpetuates the idea that the “adult” thing to do now is to forgo our own convictions and give those who supported Trump a pass. I cannot accept or respect this proposition.

Voting matters, and who we vote for matters. It reflects our values both as a nation and as individuals. Voting, the very essence of our citizenship, is where personal responsibility matters most. Michelle’s friends and family have a responsibility to hold Michelle accountable for her actions, and to hold themselves responsible for their own.

Michelle’s vote demonstrates that she accepts racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, perpetuation of rape culture, and religious bigotry. Michelle may not personally express these hateful ideologies. She may be nice to puppies, teach Sunday school, and toss money in every charity bucket she sees. But when she selected the America she wants, she picked Trumpism. She picked the candidate who built a platform based on treating some segments of the population as being less valuable than others. She has to own that. That is the dark vision of America she cast a vote for and thus actively helped create.

Michelle’s friend is no better. When Michelle’s friend says that Michelle’s vote does not matter, Michelle’s friend endorses that vote. Deeming Michelle’s vote acceptable disrespects the real world pain that Trumpism will inflict on marginalized people in our society. It says that not rocking the boat in a personal relationship is more important than the lives, safety, and dignity of our fellow human beings. That is not okay.

I reject racism. I reject misogyny. I reject homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. Rejection of bigotry is a fundamental part of my morality. It is also a fundamental part of the culture and country I want to fight for — a country where we accord ALL people dignity and equal opportunity under the law. My vision for America is a society where we reject white supremacy and patriarchy. As a result of that vision, and that morality, I reject Michelle. And I reject her friend.

None of this is to say that Michelle’s friends who reject bigotry should completely cut Michelle out of their lives. Just as I believe in treating all people with dignity, I also believe all people are redeemable. All people have value. In time Michelle may want to learn how she deeply hurt her fellow human beings. She may regret that her actions actively dehumanized others and stripped them of their rights. Or someday Michelle may be open to learning more about the world and about the other people in it, which could in turn open her to making these realizations. Michelle’s friends, if they are personally able, should always be there as a resource to help Michelle grow. But until Michelle takes personal responsibility, those who know her must hold her responsible for her actions. If Michelle were hurting her own family, we would not ask those around her to give her actions a pass. It is time to stop giving her a free pass for hurting people our society has already hurt too much.

My rejection of those like Michelle and her friend may make some dislike me. I am okay with that. That I can accept. But I cannot accept the world that Trump, Pence, and their supporters have proposed. I will stand up for my beliefs and will hold others responsible for their own. Some may call that childishness. I call it having courage of my convictions.