My husband frequently (and rightfully) reminds me that I too often expect others to go through the same logical process I do in addressing certain situations. Make no mistake – I often make decisions without logic or reason. But for important decisions – such as for whom to vote – I study the issues carefully. I am not, nor have I ever been, a straight-line ticket voter, unless I believe that that particular vote is in the best interest of my community and country. Yes, I’m a patriot, and because of that, I take elections seriously.
Today we’re facing perhaps the most important election in my lifetime. In the White House, we have a man who has been a disaster on every political level I can think of, including COVID-19, the deficit, the economy, race relations and divisions, climate change, immigration, health care, respect for the military, international alliances. He has also been a disaster on a personal level, including basic honor and integrity, transparency, truthfulness, putting the country above personal interests, and our responsibility to support our government through taxes.
I have friends who support Trump whom I otherwise consider intelligent and thoughtful. My query of them has been: “What would Trump have to do to turn you away from him?” None can provide a straight answer. Typically, they launch into “Well, Biden . . .”. I’ll respond, “No, this isn’t about anyone else. It’s about Trump.” No one has been able to answer. My hope is that at least my question will provoke reflection.
My struggle, though, is how to maintain respect for anyone who willfully ignores the political and moral crises that we, as a country, are facing today. I can engage in dialogue with those with whom I disagree on issues. I can’t engage, though, on topics related to honor, integrity, truthfulness. The Trump supporters often respond glibly: “It’s the mainstream media, and is therefore false.” This response is sad – and uninformed. Yes, there is mainstream media that is left-leaning from an editorial standpoint. Others are not. But facts are facts, and to reject a fact wholesale as untrue, without a shred of evidence to the contrary, is so wrong.
It’s a fact that Trump has alienated democratic allies, and cozied up to despots. It’s a fact that far fewer citizens would have contracted COVID if Trump had encouraged his own CDC guidelines from the get-go, and hadn’t politicized mask wearing. It’s a fact that Trump has engaged in a long pattern and practice of a sexual predator. It’s a fact that we have lost respect around the globe, with no benefits for our country. It’s a fact that honorable men and women have left the administration in disgust. It’s a fact that Trump is doing everything in his power to line his own pockets, at the expense of both his party and the country. It’s a fact that he won’t release his tax returns because he doesn’t pay taxes. This list could go on and on.
My struggle is how to maintain respect for those who continue to support such a despicable human being. Friends advise that politics and Trump simply should not be discussed with his supporters. I’m just unable to do that, perhaps a significant character flaw. I have not been able to sit back idly by, and quietly let bygones be bygones, when every fiber of my being knows that we’ve got a moral and ethical dumpster fire in Washington.
I long for the day when I can discuss with my more conservative-leaning friends how best to address health care in the U.S., or how to honor and respect men and women in uniform, or how to protect our borders, or whether a tax cut favoring the rich will provide sufficient economic stimulus to justify it.
But I can’t discuss with – or respect – those who believe some of Trump’s policies provide a sufficient basis to vote for a man so lacking in basic honesty and integrity. It’s not a joke.
I can say, unequivocally, that if a candidate agreed with every position I hold dear, but engaged in the deception and corruption exhibited by Trump, I would vote for the other candidate. Honor, respect, integrity, truthfulness, and transparency are far more important than any issue.
My prayer: that Trump supporters listen to their conscience, will take a little time, do a little research, not be swayed by memes, and, when filling out their ballots, will reflect on what he has done to the U.S.
In the meantime, I will continue to struggle with respect.