So, you voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. A year later, we can’t sit here and pretend that we understand why you did that.
We know you had your reasons. We still do not find those reasons compelling.
But we want to understand.
Can we talk?
We want to reclaim our optimism. Maybe we’re naïve, but we want to believe that the United States is not irreparably broken, that the bond forged by the qualities we share remains stronger than the forces that divide us.
We want to recall that no matter how bad things were before Trump was elected — our union has always been anything but perfect — America’s historical arc seemed slowly, inevitably, to bend toward justice.
We have a tough time remembering that these days.
We want to make sense of this. We want to figure out how we got to this point.
It’s been a year. We’re not there yet.
The Anti-Role Model
We can’t begin to fathom how anyone could listen to the things Trump says and witness the things he does and think, “That man should occupy the most powerful office on Earth.”
We are puzzled, especially, by the fact that parents voted for Trump. If there was one consolation of the 2016 campaign, it was that Trump and his minions provided the perfect anti-role model.
Life lessons show up daily on cable news. “See that guy on TV? He’s the president. Don’t be like him.”
This is a man whose every utterance represents the worst of human potential, whose every act seems calculated to appeal to those among us who reject the human aspiration toward compassion, empathy and inclusion.
How could any mom or dad listen to Trump, or look at Trump in action, or read Trump’s tweets, and feel comfortable with the future of this country in his hands?
We have been, at various moments during the past year, angry, sad, distressed, horrified, confused, bereaved, pensive, morose and numb — sometimes, all of those at once. In quiet, private moments, we have yelled at the radio, yelled at the TV, yelled at the iPhone, yelled through the windshield at Trump/Pence bumper stickers, and flipped off random cats and dogs and squirrels for no apparent reason.
Often in the immediate aftermath of these therapeutic (if immature) gestures, we wonder … how could you? How could parents have voted for Trump, knowing what we know about him? Knowing the damage he could inflict on the world we hope to pass on to our kids?
Here’s the thing. We are not judging you here. Or, we guess we should say that we are not judging anymore. We are trying to figure it out.
After a year living in this Salvador Dali painting of a political environment, where the surreal has become mundane, we no longer can summon the energy to direct the disdain due those who were (and are) OK with the current occupant of the Oval Office.
We’re all yelled out. Our middle fingers are weary.
Now, we need answers.
How Do We Fix This?
So, you voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Was it because you didn’t trust Hillary Clinton? Was it because you are a lifelong Republican who will adhere to what you perceive to be conservative principles, no matter who carries the party banner?
Was it because you didn’t like or trust Barack Obama? Was it because you chose to believe the misinformation spread by Fox News, conservative talk radio and the alt-right?
Was it because you wanted a conservative justice appointed to the Supreme Court? Was it because you wanted the Affordable Care Act repealed?
Was it because you are “pro-gun” and anti-abortion, and sticking to the Republican platform is how you want to defend the Second Amendment and weaken the protection for a woman’s right to choose?
Was it all of the above? Was it something else entirely?
We want to know, those of us who have spent the past year fighting distress and looking for hope.
We need to know the why of it in order to understand how it happened. And we need to understand the how in order to fix this.
Somewhere ahead of us, surely, enough Americans with disparate worldviews will grow weary of the mistrust and the anger and work together to fix it. Maybe. As we say, maybe we’re naïve.
As it happens, though, we think an ideal starting point for compromise is to embrace the shared experience of parenthood. We have kids. You have kids. Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the kind of world we want them to inherit.
We want to talk. We want to listen. We want to find common ground and build on it.
Only, there are a few things we won’t accept.
We reject racial or religious bigotry.
We reject misogyny.
We reject opinions that are not supported by facts.
We reject bullying of any kind.
We reject deceit.
Oh, you reject those things, too? It’s a start. Maybe you also embrace a few things we care about:
We embrace compassion.
We embrace empathy.
We embrace education.
We embrace human rights.
We embrace truth.
You might not believe this, but we care deeply about this country. We love our children and we love America.
We don’t have all the answers. We seek solutions. We want to talk to you. We’re not here to argue, although we can’t guarantee we’ll always agree.
We’re here, a year later, to reach out to those who see things differently, even as we continue to acknowledge that we reject their choice for president.
After everything we’ve been through, and knowing the potential for everything ahead of us, this is no longer an idle question: Can we talk?
Well … can we?