The following Facebook post started circulating very soon after the election in November 2016:
“Some of the most incredible people I know voted for Donald Trump, and some of the most incredible people I know voted for Hillary Clinton. The people that I know that voted for Donald Trump are not racist, misogynistic, or hateful, and the people that voted for Hillary Clinton are not hateful and intolerable. If you are someone who woke up this morning and is going to start seeing people as who they voted for, and not as the person you have always known them to be, then you are what is wrong with America. I will never think any less of any person who has different views than me because some of the most beautiful, inspirational people I know will disagree with what I believe all day long, but at the end of the day, they are still that beautiful, inspirational person I have always known them as. Don’t think less of people because some of their beliefs don't align with yours, and don’t lose quality people in your life because you choose hate over love.”
I’ve noticed that now, well over a year later, this post is once again creeping into my FB feed and in the posts of acquaintances and family members who voted for Trump. When it first appeared over a year ago, it sounded like the superior words of people who believed they had saved the rest of us from the evils of a Hillary presidency. They reduced what happened at the November polls to mere politics, to a matter of people holding ‘different views’ among American voters. Now, over a year after Trump took office, this tired piece is once again appearing on Facebook. But instead of sounding like the confident, almost pious and patronizing words of a year ago, it sounds almost defensive and, dare I say it, desperate.
First, a few things about the wording concerning the candidates. Notice that Trump is called potentially ‘racist, misogynistic, or hateful,’ while Hillary is ‘hateful and intolerable.’ I find this fascinating and very telling; the writer is admitting a great deal about Trump while seemingly having trouble finding much negative to say about Clinton, and all the while clearly in Trump’s camp. He says, ‘If you are someone who woke up this morning and is going to start seeing people as who they voted for, and not as the person you have always known them to be, then you are what is wrong with America.’ Grammar issues aside, this is a crock. First of all, as I’ve said often over the last year, what happened last year and people’s reactions to it far transcend politics. This is not about politics. It may have been politics for people on either side of the aisle to support or disagree with Reagan or Bill Clinton or Bush the Lesser or Bush the Greater; in fact, that probably was politics, at least mostly. What’s going on now can hardly be boiled down to simple politics. It speaks to character and entirely character. And I, for one, have trouble seeing people who voted for Trump as the people I ‘have always known them to be.’ On the contrary; it’s impossible to separate Trump’s values from theirs, from anyone’s, in fact, who voted for him. And I believe that if we who recognize what an abomination Trump is blindly accept his behavior and that of the people who support/ed him as somehow okay or normal or acceptable, then at that point and only at that point are we ‘what is wrong with America.’
The writer says, ‘I will never think any less of any person who has different views than me because some of the most beautiful, inspirational people I know will disagree with what I believe all day long, but at the end of the day, they are still that beautiful, inspirational person I have always known them as.’ It almost comes across like a plea, but it doesn’t move me in the slightest. People who supported and continue to support Trump are not, in my eyes, ‘beautiful, inspirational’ people. Because of their choice, I question whether they ever were. It hurts to think of family members and friends in that group, but their presence among the questionable group who supported a candidate so flawed that he barely qualifies as a human, let alone as a president, does not mitigate my disgust.
The piece ends with the words, ‘Don’t think less of people because some of their beliefs don’t align with yours, and don’t lose quality people in your life because you choose hate over love.’ This is the most problematic, ridiculous and hypocritical line of all. The implication, of course, is that by ostracizing people who voted for Trump, we are ‘choosing hate over love.’ I maintain that by voting for and supporting the candidate who is, in this writer’s own words, ‘racist, misogynistic, or hateful,’ Trump voters are the ones who have clearly chosen hate over love. And this is not okay, no matter who these people are. And to suggest that it’s a matter of thinking less of people because their beliefs don't ‘align’ with mine is truly insulting. It’s so much bigger than that. It’s tough to not ‘think less of people’ who voted for a man with no discernible moral compass.
Trump supporters who are once again frantically circulating this post are blowing the whistle on themselves. It’s a little too late and entirely in vain at this point to try once again to lay the national bitterness on those of us with the sound moral sense to take the high road at the polls. In truth, I would much rather be accused of being ‘hateful and intolerable’ than ‘racist, misogynistic, or hateful.’ So this Facebook post, overused and incredibly misguided, is sad in its unintended but accurate portrayal of Trump supporters. And even more sad in its pathetic attempt to wield guilt that just doesn’t work in order to shame the rest of us into accepting bad behavior and even worse choices from people we thought we knew.
Other commentaries by Gail Barth:Single Issue Voting
2018 Stinky Awards
A Call to March for the Soul of the Country
Fire and Fury: Review
Can the Presidency Survive Trump?
Where’s the Outrage?