A Trump Voter, and Friend

A longtime friend posted something that was not completely surprising though still stunning.  In these divisive times when the Virus of Vitriol is ravaging minds across the land, across the globe, I assured my old friend that their religious and political beliefs will not end our friendship.  I chose not to debate on FB (the outrageousphere), but I thought I’d respond to some of the talking points here, just to clear the air a bit … maybe.

Unfortunately my friend quoted from a viral source (The Cult of Trump?  Russian?  Chinese?  Q-Anon?).  Makes you wonder:  Who would want to divide us with such anger?

This is a long post, but if you’re concerned about preserving relationships across the divides, and if you’re concerned about the personal impact of “fake news,” I try to address some of that here.

My responses are in BOLD.

[After making it clear they will be voting for The Donald, they wrote]. . .

“I am voting for one thing and one thing only:
I am voting for the principles for which this country has stood since it’s [sic] founding.

Would those principles be Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?  Who wouldn’t vote for those?

I am voting for Constitutional government.

We live under a Constitutional government.  And that Constitution is based on “We the People” guided by secular principles such as Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. And “We the People” means a wonderfully messy mix of human beings with diverse opinions, political parties, religions, ethnicities, etc, etc.  And btw, that means we don’t have a King, we have separation of powers for a good reason.

I am voting for a strong and viable military.

We have the strongest military in the world and both parties generally support the military, though they may disagree on how many hundreds of billions we give the military and whether we send service members into harm’s way, into necessary or needless wars.  

If your vote means never criticizing the actions of the military then who takes responsibility for those actions?  An American can support the military, and those in uniform (as both parties normally do), without supporting every action, every decision, every billion.

And by the way, if this is meant to show your dislike for athletes who kneel against injustice, it perpetuates the myth that kneeling is “disrespecting the flag, the military, the country.”  If you have fallen for this myth, you haven’t been paying attention.

I am voting for a vibrant economy.

Great!  Everyone wants that.

I am voting for the right to keep and bear arms.

No one is against responsible gun ownership.  But some want reasonable, responsible laws to keep everyone safe, like background checks.  If you’re voting for the NRA, that’s your choice, but not supporting the extreme positions of the NRA doesn’t mean a person does not affirm the right to own a firearm (and who really needs a military weapon like an AR-15 or machine gun?  Mass killers love them).

I am voting for the freedom to worship.

Who is against that?  Our secular Constitution affirms that right.  You just can’t impose your worship, your prayer, your holy book, your faith on the rest of us –through legislating your morality or pushing it into schools, courts, congress– without pushback (and pushback is not “persecution”).  You are free to practice your faith, and others are free to practice another faith, or no faith at all.

I am voting for a national recognition of the founding of our nation on Biblical principles.

Sorry, but that’s simply not true.  Some pseudo-historians claim America was founded on “Judeo-Christian” principles, but the Founders, some who were Christians, others Unitarian and others who were Deists, wrote secular documents that protected the freedom of religion for all, not just for conservative Christians (something to think about).  Besides, what are those “biblical principles”?  Do those include the racism and sexism written into the Declaration and Constitution (slavery, women second class, Native American “savages”)?

I am voting for the ability for anyone to rise above their circumstances and become successful.

Once again, who is against that?

I am voting for my children and grandchildren to be able to choose their own path in life, including how and where their children are educated.

The first part about choosing their own path. . .once again, who’s against that? Second part. . .a “school choice” argument.  I get that.  That’s fine, just don’t take the “freedom to fund” away from the rest of us who may not choose to pay for your child to learn the Bible, Torah, Qur’an or Book of Mormon.  If you choose to send your child to a school that denies evolution, the right to choose whom to love, the basic American values of fairness, justice and equality, etc, you shouldn’t expect the rest of us to pay for that.  

I am voting for our borders to be open to everyone who enters under our law and closed to everyone who would circumvent or ignore the law.

Most people, of any party, would essentially agree. . .while remembering the words on the Statue of Liberty. . .something about “your tired, poor, homeless masses yearning to breathe free”, etc.  If you’re a supporter of walls rather than bridges, who doesn’t understand how hard it is to become a citizen, who doesn’t understand why people desperately seek asylum from oppressive governments and see America as the “Land of the Free” … then I wonder what “principles” you live by?

Also, I have to say, if you’re a Christian, what happened to the Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?  Do we angrily slam the door on refugees, freedom-seekers, the poor and displaced?  Yes, even if they swim across or climb a wall, only to live free, to work and pay taxes?  I’m a former Christian minister, and I suspect Jesus wouldn’t be mean-spirited with them– after all, he wasn’t American (or White, or Christian).  The Prophets of Israel spoke loud and clear about the treatment of the poor, the stranger, the “alien in your land.”  Do your politics make you forget? 

I am voting for the Electoral College to remain in place, so that a few heavily populated liberal centers do not control the elections.

Nice thought, but I’m guessing if elections, like the last one, where your candidate lost by almost 3 million votes, had gone the other way, you might not defend the Electoral College so strongly.

Also, we might ask:  who lives in those “liberal centers”?  Large numbers of Black and Brown people.  These folks aren’t always the most liberal, but their votes should count, shouldn’t they?  Are you saying rural White voters aren’t being heard?  I hear and read their voices all the time.  

Btw, White Christians are actually over-represented in Washington.  Did you know that nearly 90% of Congress is Christian and nearly 80% is White?  Who isn’t being fully represented?  And, listen to this:  Of the non-white members of Congress right now, 90% are Democrats and about 10% Republicans.  What does that say about who wants to have “equal representation” in America?

I am voting for a Supreme Court that interprets the Constitution rather than rewrites it.

Everyone wants the courts to “interpret” the Constitution, at least the way they want it to be interpreted.  If you mean “pack the court with our beliefs and viewpoints,” as both Republicans and Democrats fight for, I would say you don’t want a court or the rule of law, you want a rubber stamp for your politics.

I am voting to teach history, not erase it or revise it.

What is the “history” you want taught?  Is this about the Bible, “Judeo-Christian” principles, or the segregationist views of the Confederacy?  The historical record gets updated all the time; it needs to be “revised” as we learn more.  That’s education.  “Erasing”?  Does this mean protecting statues of traitors to America?  Placing monuments to the past in museums, off of public property, can make a lot of sense.

I am voting for the sanctity of life from conception to birth and after.

You do know this is a religious position, right?  And not all people of faith agree about when life begins.  If you’re anti-abortion, shouldn’t you seriously be “pro-life” … protecting access to good sex education and birth control so there’ll be fewer abortions, speaking out against war, the death penalty and gun violence?  Isn’t “pro-life” about caring for children, making sure every child has healthcare, and lives in a healthy environment?  Do you speak out when this administration puts children in cages and separates families?  Or do you simply blame the parents?

[The viral vitriol continues]  “Now, there are some things I am VOTING AGAINST:

I am voting against the indiscriminate slaughter of babies in the womb and after.

Once again, you are voting your religious beliefs, which is totally fine.  It’s just that a majority of Americans, of various faiths and no faith, disagree.  You also might pay attention to who gets most abortions and why. . .another race and poverty issue.

I am voting against open borders.

No one supports “open borders.”  This is a Trumpian Myth.  It is irrational fear-mongering with no basis in fact or reality.  Thinking that building a big wall as a monument to Trump is a waste of billions of needed dollars doesn’t mean we want “open borders.”  Like gun laws, we need a sensible approach to a difficult “humanitarian” issue.  

I am voting against a rampant welfare system that enslaves it’s recipients.

Are you aware this is both classist and racist?  Only the privileged say these things, and the privileged are predominantly White.  That’s just a fact.  Both parties are always seeking to reform government programs.  That makes sense.  But will you vote against “corporate welfare”–the huge amounts of money owned by the CEOs and other billionaires?  Who would you cut off from assistance?  Mostly Black and Brown people, since they are historically underserved?  Where do you draw the line with how much the American people show compassion for their neighbors, of any color, who live in poverty?  Or do you honestly believe people choose to be poor?

When you use the word “enslaves” you know what that means, don’t you?  You’re saying that Black and Brown-skinned people, who have had less opportunities and more obstacles than Whites, and who have suffered through a history of Real Slavery, are in “slavery” once again, merely because many need assistance.  As some have said, how can you pick yourself up by your bootstraps when you have no boots?  Assistance programs help many poorer Whites too.  So, who do you think needs a hand up?  Who will be there when you need a hand?

I am voting against socialism, in all of it’s forms, including health care, redistribution, reparations, economics, governmental control, pedophilia, and criminal releases, etc.

That’s a lot to link together and call “socialism”–the Red Menace of our Day.  Some of this argument has been used against the New Deal, Social Security, Medicare, etc.  What “social programs” do you personally benefit from?  Who would actually vote against universal healthcare or fairness in the economic system?  The process for that should always be open for debate, call it what we will.  Why would you think Capitalism is, in every way, superior to any other form of government, including Socialism?  “Socialist!” has become the new “Communist!”–and Red Scare of our time.  Some kind of “redistribution” of wealth, beginning with a Living Wage, could help everyone.

As for “reparations,” this isn’t just about money.  But it may be about equal access to housing, jobs and some of those privileges historically controlled by White society.  This takes reading up on the 400-year history of slavery and racial injustice in this country.  This takes listening to your African-American friends and what they say about taking actions today to “even the playing field.”    

By the way, the fact you throw in “pedophilia” hints that this is indeed a Q-Anon document.  Don’t tell me you believe in “Pizzagate”!?  Are you aware how crazy their conspiracy theories are?  If you vote for nuts, we’ll keep getting peanut butter instead of real leadership.

I am voting against celebrating, raising murals/billboards of today’s criminals, yet demolishing the images and remembrances of those who have fought to save the lives of others. Such as those who ran into the towers in 911 and many others!

Apparently a slam on George Floyd and other Black men and women being murdered by people we pay to “keep the peace.”  Which “images” of whose “saviors” do you want to preserve … Confederates?  Tell me, who is taking down images of the firefighters who ran into the towers?  This is nonsense.  Please don’t buy it.  This is meant to stir up rage, outrage, fear and who knows what.

There are more good upstanding policeman [sic] than there are bad.

No doubt that’s true, and a vast majority of Americans would agree.  But it sure seems we have a systemic problem with how officers are being trained.  I’ve worked with a number of good police officers (not just “policemen,” women too).  Calling for police reform is a reasonable demand, especially from the community that is most often treated unjustly.  

Btw, have you noticed?  Some of these misspelled words (“it’s founding,” “policeman”) can be indications that whomever is posting these tirades may not live in the United States.  Just a caution.  (And yes, I misspell words too!)

So, although I don’t give blanket approval to everything our President has done or said in the past, I do support him as our president and will do everything I can to convince others to vote for him.

Well, the arguments you present are not convincing at all.  This President has consistently lied or twisted the truth, passed along myths and conspiracies, put people down, called names, pandered to conservative Christians rather than all Americans of any faith or no faith, and overall acted like a schoolyard bully.  He is not up to the job.  

Yet, that’s my view and my vote, and I would defend your right to vote for whomever you want.  I just think we should be informed, and not get distracted or attracted by Q-Anon-style attempts to divide our Union.  

I am not voting against Joe Biden, but I am voting against every thing that the party backing him and propping him up stands for.”

Of course, this makes no sense.  A party’s platform has many planks representing diverse points of view, and I would guess my friend would support many of the same things I would.  Unless we buy into Trumpian rhetoric that makes Democrats “evil” and not true Americans, while any media that doesn’t agree is “the enemy,” we can find lots of common ground.  Besides, what happened to Moderate Republicans?  I may not go along with some of the farthest Left agenda, but I can stand in good conscience beside most Dems in the party who stand for inclusiveness, equality, justice for all. . .you know, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  I’d like to see more Republicans join in with that, instead of jumping on the Trump Wagon with a few wheels missing–and running on peanut butter! 

[My friend also said she is voting “against” Kamala Harris because of her record, calling her a “hypocrite.”]

Like my friend, I lived for many years in CA too, and voted for Harris as Attorney General.  Would I agree with everything Any AG does?  No.  But I think she’ll be a wonderful VP alongside President Joseph Biden.  I don’t think either one is perfect.  I’m sure we’d have disagreements about some things.  But, in my view, the Democratic Party offers the best option for moving the country forward to repair the wreckage after 4 years of the (fired) Apprentice.

Finally, I wish my friend well.  Our loving relationship has aged with the years, but can remain strong if we don’t let the forces of division and the Virus of Vitriol keep us apart. 

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