Dear White Voters: Pro-Trump Equals Anti-Black. Period.
This week a Rolling Stone article titled “The Unraveling of America” put the fear of four more years of Donald Trump in me like never before. My forecast for the United States isn’t necessarily quite as dire as the author’s, but he laid out the myriad ways in which President Donald Trump has failed America as thoroughly, eloquently, and frighteningly as any writer who has tried to tackle that monumental task.
Although I don’t believe it’s game over for the U.S. just yet, if our standing in the global community hasn’t been damaged beyond repair, I don’t think it can survive unless we vote Trump out of the White House in November. Then come January, we can embark on what will possibly be our greatest challenge since the Great Depression: rebuilding what Trump and a Republican Party that has enabled him have so recklessly demolished.
The 2020 Presidential election is no ordinary Presidential election. It’s a war where rhetoric explodes like gunfire and the body count piles up without a single shot. We’re in the fight of our lives for the future of our fragile country.
As with any war, either you’re on the right side or you’re against us. For the past four years, I have tried to agree to disagree with Trump supporters. That didn’t work. Now I see them strictly as the enemy. I blame the state of our nation, a once-great power reduced to a pitiable laughing stock to a large part of the outside world, as much on Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party as on the President himself. By continuing to support and excuse him, they have made themselves accessories to his crimes.
2020: A year of reckoning
Americans with a conscience have been talking about how relentless and merciless 2020 has been. For Blacks, its been a year in which we’ve had to face old scourges — systemic racism and deadly police brutality — and a new one: a global pandemic that’s highlighted our vulnerabilities and used them against us. For Whites, more than any year since 1964 (which marked the passage of the Civil Rights Act), it’s been a time of reckoning.
Republicans want to pretend it’s just like any other year: Coronavirus is a Democratic hoax and so is racism. George Floyd was just another Black thug who got what he had coming. All lives matter. Hail Trump.
I don’t understand why any non-White voter or any LGBTQ voter would still hail him. Maybe it’s a case of self-loathing, or perhaps like Pat Boone, they’ve been snowed by his holy posturing. Or could it be they’re deluded enough to buy his claim to being the savior of a U.S. economy that’s now failing spectacularly due to his pre-pandemic negligence?
When I see Trump supporters, I see people clinging to the last shreds of White supremacy, an old world order where they can pretend “antebellum” refers to an architectural style, “Dixie” is just that name of a song, and Robert E. Lee was a great American.
I feel sorry for them the way I would any victim of Stockholm Syndrome. However, I’m not as forgiving of White people who still support Trump. When I see them, I see people clinging to the last shreds of White supremacy, an old world order where they can pretend “antebellum” refers to an architectural style, “Dixie” is just the name of a song, and Robert E. Lee was a great American.
Trump has not done a single thing during his term that shows even a glimmer of empathy for Black Americans. He’s talked about the murder of George Floyd as if it were some random tragedy (“a terrible event, a terrible terrible thing that happened”), carefully avoiding even the vaguest reference to systemic racism. Clearly he doesn’t want to offend an alt-right that considers him their honorary mascot.
He’s yet to persuasively condemn the actions of the White cop who strangled Floyd by kneeling into his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds on May 25. Trump has spent less time than that eulogizing Floyd and more energy condemning the “thugs” who looted in the angry aftermath, unleashing Washington D.C. police on peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters in front of the White House, and siccing federal troops on U.S. citizens.
He’s pandered to the alt-right that played such a large role in his political rise by calling them “very good people,” applauded their racism on social media, and defended the honor of Confederate statues. Vice President Joe Biden may say stupid things about Black people, but unlike Trump and the racist voters he tries so hard not to offend, he doesn’t treat us with utter contempt.
Every time I look at Donald Trump, I see the same look in his eyes that I saw in the eyes of my elementary school principal who glared at me with pure disdain every time he called me “Boy.” I’ll never forget the red-hot contempt flashing in his cold, steely blue eyes. It was the same unfettered hatred I’ve seen in the eyes of racist Whites as they taunted and disparaged Blacks in countless vintage ’50s and ’60s newsreels.
Defender of the alt-right
A White person cannot support a man like Donald Trump and truthfully claim to care about Black people. He’s no better than George Wallace, the Alabama politician who used many of the same racist-baiting tactics. The moment Trump started defending alt-right extremists and Confederate statues, every decent White person in this country should have cut their losses. Now only unconditional surrender will do.
You can’t say you care about Black people while exalting a man who doesn’t care if we are completely destroyed, as long as he gets a second term.
This is not just political warfare. It’s a fight for humanity. If you care about me as a Black man, as a gay man, then how can you support someone who is so obsessed with winning that he will pander to bigots and support legislation that chips away at the rights of LGBTQ people just to satisfy his fan base and secure their votes?
Red vs. blue has gone well beyond mere ideology and differences of opinion. It’s now about right and wrong, good vs. evil. You can’t say you care about Black people while exalting a man who doesn’t care if we are completely destroyed, as long as he gets a second term.
As I watch FOX News pundits like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Igraham, the White House staff, and Trump’s buffoonish older sons Frick and Frack clumsily spin his failure as success, despite the loss of 166,000 and counting lives in the U.S. due to COVID-19 under his watch, I realize how far the Republicans have fallen. Party loyalty trumps humanity, and Trump trumps everything. These people are not just stupid. They’re immoral.
But a vote for Trump is not just a vote for immorality. It’s a tacit endorsement of racism and homophobia, a vote against me. Correction: It’s a vote against us all. It’s placing economy over community. His apologists are saying it doesn’t matter if we die by the ten thousands, as long as the U.S. dollar is strong, socialism is vanquished, and Trump can brag his way to a second term.
Individuals vs. Community
The modern Republican agenda has always valued individuals over community, but what becomes of individuals without community? About once a week I’ll stumble upon another Facebook post from another old Florida classmate (presumably Republican) in which they’ll rail against socialism — a word they misuse and abuse, seemingly thinking it’s interchangeable with “compassion”— and ask why they should have to look out for people they don’t know or answer for the sins of their White forefathers. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that it truly does take a village. A civilized society cannot thrive or even survive on rugged, self-centered individualism alone.
Without essential workers, many of whom are Black and many of whom occupy the lowest rungs of the economic ladder and do the jobs that those at the higher rungs can’t and/or won’t do for themselves, civilization crumbles. If the last six months have proven anything, they’ve proven that.
The haves need the have-nots more than the have-nots need the haves, and if this pandemic experience hasn’t given us all the gift of humility and empathy, if it hasn’t forced us all to see Trump for the dangerous narcissist that he is, if it hasn’t forced us all to recoil in horror, then agreeing to disagree with his Republican sycophants will no longer work for me. There is no place in my life for any White person who insists on remaining pro-Trump, not even on the periphery of it.
In 2017, when I was living and working in Australia, HuffPost published my essay titled “Why I Would Never Date a Guy Who Supports Donald Trump.” In it, I wrote:
If you’ve never experienced true oppression because of something you couldn’t hide or force into the closet, if you’ve always been included in the immoral majority, if you are unable to see life outside of your own personal experience, of course, it’s easy to support someone who represents oppression and non-acceptance at its scariest. What do you have to lose?
I, however, have way too much to lose. As a gay man, as a black man, as the son of immigrants, as an immigrant myself, I consider Donald Trump to be the enemy. And his defenders are my enemies by default.
As bleak as things looked in 2017, they seem exponentially gloomier now. My view of Trump supporters has darkened, too. One of my best friends cut off his entire family, including his twin brother, because they all voted for Trump in 2016. I thought he was being too harsh then, but I don’t anymore.
Agreeing to disagree didn’t get us anywhere. The detente is done. Now here we are, in this difficult space, embroiled in a life-or-death struggle over ideology, over our culture, over an American way that’s lost its way.
If you’re White and planning to cast your vote for Trump on November 3, either you’re a White supremacist or you don’t think White supremacy is dangerous enough to dismantle once and for all. Both are unacceptable. No matter how colorblind you think you are, if you’re waving the Trump flag, you don’t have to say a word. The message is as loud and clear as “Dixie” at a Confederate nostalgia party: All lives matter — as long as they’re White.