Part of the normalizing process is the call to put ourselves in the shoes of Trump voters, to be empathetic and understanding about what drove them to elect this manifestly unqualified and temperamentally unsuited man.
I’m skeptical, which is what made Peter Beinart’s piece in the Atlantic affirming.
“At 2 AM on Wednesday morning, once it became clear Donald Trump would be America’s next president, the conservative, anti-Trump, commentator Erick Erickson posted “An Open Letter to the Democrats.” He asked them not to rebuke Trump’s supporters. “Instead of condemning them and labeling them all bigots and racists and deplorables,” he wrote, “I hope you will try to relate to them, connect to them, and recognize their legitimate concerns.” Since Trump’s victory, other commentators have said similar things.
Sorry, but I disagree. Reconciliation is important. But not at the expense of truth.”
The truth is that a wide swath of Trump voters hold deeply racist and misogynist and anti-Muslim views. A huge predictor of a Trump voter is someone who believes, to this day, that President Obama is a closet Muslim not loyal to the United States. These are not David Duke level, flame-throwing, “restore the Confederacy and deport the mud people” racists. But in delegitimizing President Obama, declaring him “other” and not one of us, their beliefs are deeply racist. Even if, as the friend who asked me to understand the ordinary people who voted for Trump, they seem to be nice and God-fearing souls.
Where do I, as a believer in an open and Democratic society, go with that? Not, I assure you, to the nearest coffee shop to sit down for an empathetic chat. I simply don’t have the patience any more to be empathetic with hypocrites whose racism bubbles just below the surface.
I’m still sorting out what my seemingly contradictory feelings mean in daily life. I respect the democratic process, and Trump was elected president. Yes. But he is not my president. My reaction here is visceral: I find no common ground of understanding with people who dismissed President Obama as a closet Kenyan, with the Archie Bunkers for whom the very existence of powerful women is an insult to masculinity, with the narrow and limited Christians who wouldn’t recognize a faithful Muslim if they fell over one or the person was painted day-glo orange — they just know Muslims are people to be feared. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa thinks violent Muslims are migrating to Latin American, from there to sneak over our border and murder good Christians in their beds. Hence the need for Trump’s wall. God give us strength. A United States senator, said to be an upcoming leader in her party.
You might ask if I’m doing to Trump what the birthers did to President Obama: saying Trump will never be my president. Perhaps. But I’ve learned, in all these years of being alive, to trust the wisdom of my body. And I recoil at the mere sight or sound of this man.
Today in the workout room ABC news interrupted ordinary programming with scenes of the Trump plane arriving in Washington for the meeting with President Obama. I turned the video screen off.
Not my president. I’ll say it as often as I need to, to remind you and me.