Let me get a few things out in the open, right upfront, so I can be as clear as possible.
If you voted for Donald Trump I do not think you are racist, sexist, intolerant, or ignorant.
Regardless of who you voted for, I still respect you and like you as a human being (you know, provided I knew, liked, and respected you before November 8). Basically, wherever we were before that day, that’s where we are now.
You have a right to vote for whomever you choose for whatever reason you choose. I do not begrudge you that choice. You know why you cast your vote, I don’t.
I hope you don’t presume to understand why I made my choice and I won’t presume to understand why you made yours. That seems like a pretty square deal for both of us.
So, just to reiterate, my problem is not with you, the voter. I’m not trying to offend you, hurt you, disrespect you, or insult your intelligence. And if I unintentionally do, I am sincerely sorry.
I just don’t like Trump, okay?
I just don’t, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
I sincerely hope you understand that my opinion of the man is separate from my opinion of you.
Because I think we need to find a way to start talking about politics again. We should be able to talk about it, even if, hell, maybe most especially, when we disagree.
So that’s what I’m going to do now, after this, the longest disclaimer in human history.
End of disclaimer
I resent being told to “play nice” by someone whose entire presidential campaign was built on him being anything but.
I agree with the sentiment, of course, it’s a hell of a sentiment, I just don’t think that Trump is its most credible messenger.
Because I think most of us can agree that Trump’s campaign was not based on him being nice.
Political campaigns are rarely a friendly, well-mannered exercise, and in the 2016 election season, no one comes out clean. Everybody was slinging mud. Everybody’s dirty.
It’s just, Trump’s whole campaign persona seemed to center on him being proud of that.
That was sort of the point.
Trump’s campaign painted him as a maverick; a renegade; a tough, good, ole boy who tells it like it is; as a guy who says what we’re all really thinking but are just too afraid to say.
That was the brand. That was the push. And regardless of how much truth there is behind that image, there’s no denying that that’s the image Trump projected, promoted, and rallied people behind.
But now we’re supposed to forget that? We’re supposed to pretend the president-elect is a candidate for all Americans? Huh?
I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t make sense.
This isn’t the Apprentice. Trump doesn’t get to do a mid-season rewrite and recast himself before the governmental version of sweeps-week.
That’s just not how this works.
Trump’s built his brand and frankly, I’d almost have more respect for him if he at least had the courage to own it.
I mean, I hate his brand. I hate the war on political correctness (which I’ve said before is basically just a war on being polite and decent to people). I hate his “I can say whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want without consequences” mentality. I think it’s childish, dangerous, and cruel.
But that’s part of what his campaign was based on. That’s the caricature he credited for himself.
Now, after November 8, we’re all supposed to pretend that didn’t happen.
I’m not doing that.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe we should all strive to talk about everything (including politics) in a respectful way (which admittedly, I’m somewhat struggling to do here – sorry), but Trump doesn’t get to tell me to do that.
Because he doesn’t do it himself.
Trump is a lot of things, but let’s get real here – one of those things is a bully. The man’s a bully.
And I get why some people may find that appealing. I can sort of see how some people may find his candidness to be a refreshing change of pace from a political system that seems so alienating, manufactured, and dishonest to so many people.
I get it guys, I swear I do.
I can even understand why some people may have liked a man who promised to shake things up, who promised things that weren’t politics as usual.
It’s just, please understand, that’s the same reason people are so afraid of him.
I think most people who were against Trump are not upset because Hillary lost.
They’re not upset just because they’re just a bunch of whiny millennials. (Which really, can we please stop painting my entire generation as a bunch of trophy-seeking babies? We do not have the market on stupid covered. Stupid has been around for a good long while.)
I think most people are upset because they honestly don’t know what this new president will do.
And that’s a new feeling. It’s not politics as usual.
But wasn’t that sort of the point?
When your brand is shaking things up and bringing change, you can’t be surprised that people are going to have a reaction to that. A strong reaction to that.
People are going to say something.
People are allowed to say something.
Yes, they should try to do it respectfully, but people get to say something.
Playing nice does not mean keeping quiet. It does not mean being obedient and falling in line. Nor should it.
Yes, we as citizens, should strive for unity, but what’s great about America is, we’re allowed our dissent too.
We’re allowed to have differences of opinion, religion, beliefs, and politics, and we’re allowed to talk about it.
That’s not disloyalty. That’s not anti-American. That’s not whining. That’s not unfair.
That’s just exercising our first amendment rights which is about as American as you can get.
(Though, obviously, because it needs to be mentioned, violence, vandalism, and burning the American flag aren’t okay. I would never think they were. That should be obvious. Just as it’s obvious to me that I shouldn’t paint all Trump supporters with the same brush as the worst of the Trump supporters, I’d ask you to please do the same for the left.)
But in general, when it comes to political discourse, Trump built part of his campaign on telling it like it is. He should be able to understand it and appreciate it when his citizens do the same.
Or to put it in school-yard terms, “You shouldn’t dish it out if you can’t take it.”
But that’s the thing with bullies, they so rarely know how to deal with that part of the conversation.
Which is why it’s so important for us to have that part of the conversation – because the bully needs to hear it.
Because maybe now more than ever in my lifetime, certain groups of people are going to have to try harder to be heard.
Though they should try to be respectful, they’re also going to have to be louder, more confrontational, and a whole hell of a lot stronger than before.
Because if there’s one thing I learned from Love Actually (okay, there’s a lot of things I learned from Love Actually, but this one may be the best one) it’s that bullies only respond to strength.
Hugh Grant’s prime minister taught us that.
He also gave us that really kick-ass speech about how great Britain is, which is completely unrelated to this discussion, but I think is worth the watch anyway.
But, the point is, to slightly paraphrase Hugh Grant’s prime minister: “Since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward, (we) will be prepared to be much stronger and the president(elect) should be prepared for that.”
Because being able to disagree with the government, and voice that disagreement, is an incredibly important part of being an American.
It’s the very thing that makes this country great.
That’s something we all should be able to agree on.
That, and that Love Actually is the funny yet surprisingly moving holiday classic we should all be watching right now.
Plus it has this scene of Hugh Grant dancing which is something we can all get behind.