An Open Letter to Trump Voters: My Fellow Americans

November 15, 2016

ear You:

Hey, what’s up? I didn’t write this a month ago or a year ago, as perhaps I should have. In part because I believed that despite its faults, the United States was filled with more good than ill.

And You? You consider yourself a good person. Indeed you are a good person; a stand-up guy or gal… and yet You voted for Mr. Trump.

With Your vote you didn’t stand up against racism, or sexism; you didn’t stand up for the rights of gay men or lesbian women, or immigrant families. You voted that, at best, “I don’t care about you people, and I approve of Mr. Trump’s message. Your continued oppression does not concern me.”

Perhaps You consider yourself a Christian, but if so, You didn’t stand for the compassion of Christ — that tenet You hold as the cornerstone of your faith. You didn’t love your neighbor as thyself.

Maybe You thought about pop culture. Like: ‘wouldn’t it be great if the guy I watched on TV was elected as president? He’s a straight-shooter. He tells it like it is.’

If pop culture influenced Your vote, perhaps a reference from pop culture will be of benefit to You. A film You have probably seen; one You can probably quote from… so there’s little chance You need a Spoiler Alert. Take this scene from the 1992 film “A Few Good Men”:

Upon professing Your views over Mr. Trump’s election, You may have been confronted by a certain faction of your Facebook friends. You may be confused. Like Private Loudon Downey in “A Few Good Men”, You may be asking:

What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!

Lance Corporal Harold Dawson provided the answer:

Yeah we did. We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn’t fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie.

This is The United States of America. A nation which has long held itself out as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. A country that has often fought to defend the right to live in peace; fought for those who could not fight for themselves. As an American, whether You served in the military or not, You should be fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves. This includes all the groups of people Mr. Trump has targeted; You should fight against the hate crimes that fringe slice of his supporters have perpetrated following the election.

If Your stance is now that Mr. Trump should be given a chance to implement his stated goals… that anything else would be counterproductive. I put it to You that You should disagree.

Counterproductive is exactly what You should be. Obstruct racism whenever You encounter it. Listen to people of color. Black lives matter because they are Your fellow Americans. Extend a hand and say “peace be with you” to people of other faiths, and especially to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Do not allow the rights women have fought for through all of recorded history be rewound. Stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of Your siblings in the LGTBQ community. Respect Your treaty obligations in North Dakota and the North Atlantic. Stand with Jews, when Mr. Trump appoints anti-semites as his chief advisors. Do not normalize bigotry; do not ignore hate speech. These are Civil Rights, by guaranteeing them for other Americans, they’re guaranteed for You too.

And don’t gloss-over the erosion of Your right to free speech, or to a free press. These rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, but have been targeted by Mr. Trump and are currently under threat. They are pillars of Your democracy, and without them, You will no longer have a democracy.

Turning this around isn’t just about changing how You voted — that’s done –, but changing how You see your fellow Americans. Do not vilify those with differing political views, yet also don’t forget exactly what Your vote meant — and will mean — if You stand idly by.

If You are still reading at this point, You have an open mind. You are a good person. So know that already much of the nation is trying to normalize Mr. Trump. They are roughing up his hair on the ‘Tonight Show’ in an attempt to humanize him and his stated ideology. Resist.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

— George Orwell, ‘1984’

Resist what Orwell described in his prescient warning. Do not cry gin-scented tears. Do not win victory over yourself. You are a good person. You know Mr. Trump is wrong; do not come to love him. You must never get to the point where You love Big Brother. You cannot let this happen. You must stand up. You must resist.

You must halt this march of authoritarianism before policies of fear and hate are put in place. Don’t put Your head in the sand and say to reassure Yourself: “it does not affect me.” It does. And it will, incrementally.

To paraphrase Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Immigrants, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not an Immigrant.

Then they came for the Press, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not in the Press.

Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Remember: You are a good person. You are an American. You are supposed to fight for the people who couldn’t fight for themselves.

Sincerely,

Jason Riley

Your Fellow American

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