I’ve been told it’s fine to hate Trump, but don’t extend that anger towards his voters. Sure, it makes sense to be disgusted by the politicians who call January 6th a peaceful demonstration, who are suppressing voting rights and spreading deadly disinformation about vaccination, but don’t be repulsed by their supporters.
Trump and Trumpism only exist because of his supporters. The fascism and authoritarianism Trump and his acolytes espouse have metastasized across the country in every level of government, slowly dismantling democracy to the point that it hangs in the balance. Cheating, lying, gerrymandering, dangerous new election laws steer the country not only toward minority rule but an amoral autocracy eager to weaponize our military, police and courts.
If you support Trumpism, your politics literally make you dangerous. It’s time to stop pretending that’s not true. I’m not scared because of a “difference of opinion” or a disagreement about policies. I’m terrified because 75 million people voted for a man who continuously spouted ridiculous lies patently disproven on an almost daily basis. (Remember COVID being a “Democratic hoax”, and then “gone by Easter”?) They voted for someone whose every appearance before the cameras demonstrated a man flagrantly lacking in intelligence or integrity. They endorsed a man whose actions caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and Kurds. A man who told the world he believed Putin over the US’ own Intelligence Agencies. Someone who pushed scientists aside as he told the American people bleach might protect them from a lethal virus.
Before his first election there were untold examples of racism and anti-Semitism, dog whistles some subtle, some blatant. Then, in 2020, 75 million Trump voters cast their ballots for a President who said there were “good people on both sides”. (Remember those ‘good’ torch-bearing neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us!”) These voters embraced an American President who refused to say the words “I denounce white supremacy” in a Presidential debate. A low bar, denouncing white supremacy, but one he could not bear to cross. But if you’re a leader afraid of irking a core constituency, you might just say something to the Proud Boys like, “Stand back and stand by.” Some of those white supremacists he didn’t want to offend showed up for the coup d’etat to which he invited them – “Be there! Will be wild!” – and came within a hair of succeeding.
The very best-case scenario is is this: People who voted for Trump are not all that bothered by the horrendous things he said and did. Likely they support the anti-democratic, anti-science, anti-choice direction in which the GOP is taking the country. That makes them dangerous.
As an American, I care about democracy. As a person with a moral compass who cares about human rights and truth, I care about living in a world where various races, religions, journalism, science and women’s right to choose aren’t demonized. And as a Jew, like other Jewish people I know, I’m scared shitless. When you support a morally reprehensible autocrat whose actions reveal him dismantling democracy and vilifying various races and religions, then you are joining in the attack on those groups, regardless of any ‘rationale’ for doing so. As someone in a widely-spread meme put it:
“The Trump-Pence campaign is burning a cross on the lawns of all of these people. It doesn’t matter why you show up at a cross burning – if it’s for warmth or you just need something free to do – you’re at a cross burning on my lawn. Don’t expect us to be friends when the fire gets put out.”
So, you want to paint me as someone who’s close-minded, hard-hearted, hysterical – “hateful” as one relative put it – because I have the gall to want to fight for truth, democracy and Americans’ rights, and against racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism. Americans are being lied to, threatened, even killed, and it’s not going to get better.
There are people who want me to accept and ignore people who want power over people like me, a power that would and will hurt me. There are people who want me to stop thinking about it, stop feeling terrified. They’ve decided it’s best not to confront anyone with the choices they make to hurt our democracy and most of the people in it. There are people who make their own choice to let people get away with bigotry and dangerous ideologies because it’s easier for them.
I can’t ignore hatred. I refuse to be gaslit into normalizing the perspectives hostile to women, people of color, Jews, gays, and countless others – including those who want a world that isn’t hostile to science and safety. I also can’t ignore those who refuse to stand up for truth, democracy, for people. Don’t ask me to blame Hitler and not the people who had Hitler become Hitler. Don’t ask me to just blame Trump. There’d be no Trump if it weren’t for those 75 million for whom he’s just a moronic, orange avatar.
As they say in Germany: “If there’s a Nazi at the table and 10 other people sitting there talking to him, you got a table with 11 Nazis.” Go ahead and sit at the table with a Nazi, but you damn well better be voicing an opinion that you think being a Nazi is pretty lousy. Because if you sit there and just say “Pass the potatoes”, that’s pretty lousy. And if you think Trump and his followers aren’t the dangerous 21st century Nazis, then you’re just not paying attention or you have the luxury of just not really caring all that much. And forgive me, but that’s pretty lousy too.