Speaking out on political subjects can be dangerous to your social life. Still, I have been remarkably vocal about political things on Facebook, and especially since the rise of Trump and Trumpism.
Trump has been a polarizing figure among my friends and acquaintances. He has become something of the elephant in the room in many of our wards, families, and other social circles in the U.S. He is a symbol of many things to many different people, for extremely personal reasons. I want to show some vulnerability here on this post about what my feelings are.
Early in the Republican primaries, I had a dream. I was on a very fancy yacht. I’ve never been on a yacht in my life, but that was what I was in. There was a Jacuzzi, flowers, beautiful furnishings, and a bed. Donald Trump came in and we talked for a while. I knew why he was there and what he wanted from me. I was dressed in some kind of lingerie and a silky robe. His voice was so gentle and fatherly. He promised me that he would take care of me. He said that he would give me everything I ever wanted. He told me that I was important and special and that all the mean things that all the mean things people had said or done to me in my life, that he would make sure they were sorry and would never to it again. His words melted my resistance because it was exactly what I always wanted. To be special. To be heard. To be safe. I let him kiss me and take off my clothes. Then I woke up.
I have thought back to that dream many times. The entire dream had a terrible feeling about it. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew that I was married and had kids and that this man was not my husband and that in having sex with him, I would be sacrificing my soul and my character. In that strange moment on that yacht, it was like I was under some strange spell. He knew what to say to me and how to say it. I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t say anything. I was on the ocean. There was no one around. He was powerful and I was alone. The longer I was with him, the better it felt, the more I could rationalize the decision to go through with it. I could push the uncomfortable realities away and look at the flowers, the beautiful furnishings, and listen to the flattery. I told myself he was not so bad and that what I was going to do wasn’t so wrong.
In some ways I have seen this dream play out on the national stage as Trump has seduced the American electorate into giving him an increasing amount of influence. Powerful men and women have been overcome by the strange spell that he has cast over so many. Flattering words, vain promises, and compromised principles litter the stages of his rallies and speeches. And like in the dream, I am alone. I am powerless to stop it.
My dream self was silent, but my conscious self has spoken out in warning to everyone within the sound of my voice. This man is poison. He is dangerous. He can’t be trusted. He tells you what you want to hear, but he will destroy you if you don’t get away from him. Leave the yacht. Keep your principles. He will use you and destroy you just as I was used and destroyed in my dream.
As I have spoken out, many people have accused me of bad faith motives, hatred, or even mental instability. Still, I speak out. I search my soul and I see nothing but love and concern. God will judge me. My heart and hands are clean before him. I love my country. I love my friends and family. I see danger and I will raise the alarm until I can no longer speak.
Political opinions are cheap, and the talking points of the major political parties are easy to cut and paste and retweet and forward. People do it all the time. My posts are different. They come from my heart and my soul. Trump is not a politician or a President to me, he is a dangerous threat to my country. I feel I would be a traitor and a coward if I did not do everything I could to stop him.
The last couple of days, I have been criticized for judging Trump’s defenders. Some friends have been deeply hurt by things I have said questioning the basic character of people who choose to defend this man. Those criticisms have infuriated me. It was never my intent to hurt, to belittle, or to condemn Trump supporters, but at times they put me in nearly impossible positions because there is no self-reflection, no vulnerability, no willingness to engage with the root issues. At what point in the Trump seduction process are Trump supporters accountable for the damage he is doing to this country and the world? At what point do they have to stop turning their fury and anger on me, and start asking themselves the hard questions? At what point am I allowed to say, “You’ve been warned and now you can go to hell. I wash my hands.”
From the outside, it is easy to judge me. I should be long suffering forever. I should withhold judgement forever. Friends, I am not Jesus Christ. Honestly, I’m not omniscient. I love you, but I can’t understand the psychological need people have to defend Donald Trump. Sometimes I do think that people are just evil, racist, money worshiping, idiots for electing this man. I’m human, and that is honestly what it looks like from where I sit, and Trump supporters have done very little to persuade me otherwise. Every single person who supports and defends this President after everything he has said and done, is diminished in my eyes. Is that my fault? I don’t think so. Does that make me a judgmental jerk? I don’t think so. I think it makes me human, and folks, I’m sorry to break it to you; I’m human.
So last night at 2:30 in the morning, I couldn’t sleep. I was angry at how unfair the criticisms of me were, and then I was angry at myself because I let them upset me. Then I was angry at myself for being myself and speaking out and then being hurt and knowing that I would just do it again, because that is what I do. Then wanting to blow my head off so that I could stop the pain. Then I would erupt into a coughing fit and remember that I have kids to care for in a few short hours. Eventually, Ben came and sat next to me in the bathroom. He reminded me that sometimes we have to put people in the right circles. Some people don’t deserve to be in the intimate parts of your life. They don’t have any skin in the game. They don’t care that you are hurting and struggling to keep your head above the water. They just want to let off some steam and make themselves feel better. It’s not fair to let them do it at my expense.
The online world is hard with the circle thing. Some people are not safe to have in your inner circle, but you are friends with them on Facebook. So does that mean you can’t be vulnerable on Facebook? No. I do it all the time and I think it’s good and healthy. Vulnerability is courage and without it, real connections between people are impossible. There is always a risk.
Last session, my counselor and I talked about expecting opposition. My ideas are powerful. My words evoke emotion and thought. That is a gift, but also comes with opposition as people react to their thoughts and emotions my words revealed to them. Sometimes, especially online, things can get out of hand quickly. I invite everyone to come and read what I have to say, but this is my inner circle. You are here at my invitation, and if your words are calloused and unfeeling, lack vulnerable self-reflection, or show willful ignorance, that’s not okay with me. If my words evoke strong emotions in you, that’s okay. They are supposed to do that. I have told some of my friends not to read my blog because it upsets them so much. If you do want to continue reading, I encourage you to look deeply into yourself and try to understand the reasons for your feelings. Every person is infinitely valuable and has extremely complex reasons for the feelings they have. Feelings are always okay and sharing feelings is always welcome on my comment boards.
I will show you an example of a comment that I would love to see either on Facebook or below from one of my friends who is a Trump supporter.
“I used to hate Trump. I thought he would loose to Hillary Clinton and I didn’t like how rude he was. After he got the nomination, I knew that it was either him or Hillary Clinton. I’ve been waiting for eight long years to have a Republican in office. President Obama seemed so popular with the media. They loved him and nobody seemed to care that while he was President, I felt like I wasn’t heard. I watched Planned Parenthood videos of people cutting up little babies and selling them, and then the journalists who broke the story were put in jail. I saw Christian bakers whose business was destroyed because they wouldn’t make a cake for a gay wedding. That could have been me and my wife. I saw Ferguson, Missouri burn because of racial unrest, and the President and his administration seemed to side with the rioters and blame the police. I see religious freedom and freedom of speech under attack as I am told I can’t say or do certain things that I feel are okay, or at least they were ten years ago. I decided to vote for him, and I’m happy with a lot of the things he has done. I’m glad Hillary Clinton is not President. On the other hand, I wish he wasn’t so mean. I wish he would spend more time and effort trying to understand other people and cooperate with them instead of lashing out at everybody on Twitter. Sometimes its so confusing because no one agrees about what is happening with the Russia thing. I hope the Mueller investigation wraps up soon. If he did conspire with Russia during the election, that was wrong and he should go. In the end, sometimes I wish I hadn’t voted for Trump, but I just didn’t feel there were any better options.”
Or a comment like this:
“I knew as soon as the primaries started that Trump was my kind of candidate. He reminds me so much of my Uncle that died of cancer ten years ago. He had such a way of just speaking his mind and doing what he thought was right. Sometimes he was a little crazy, but he meant what he said and he had the guts to follow through with it. I thought we needed people like that leading America. Our country is so bogged down with large bureaucratic systems that no one is leading and actually making the tough unpopular decisions. I love my country, and I love all the citizens in it, right, left, and center. Looking at all the hatred and division going on right now, makes me frustrated and upset. Trump has said some awful things, and I can see why people are upset. I noticed that with my uncle, you either loved him or you hated him. I guess that makes sense that people are that way about Trump. Still, I wish I didn’t feel like everybody thinks they know everything about me when they hear I voted for him. Like I’m stupid. It makes me feel like defending my decision even more.”
Those two comments are completely fabricated. The reason I like them is because they show honest, vulnerable insight into the reasons they support or supported Trump. The second comment shows the emotional projection of her uncle onto the person Donald Trump. That tells me that attacks on Donald Trump might feel personal to her because she associates him with her Uncle. That’s good to know. I can empathize with the feeling of a large and impersonal government being distasteful to her, and the thought of a person like her uncle in charge would be appealing. She doesn’t like the hatred and animosity in the country right now. She acknowledges that Trump’s behavior is responsible for much of that. The last few sentences are key to understanding this person. She wants respect, but she feels marginalized and judged for supporting Trump. There is a lot of common ground to build on from this comment. I can see her humanity and respect her vulnerability.
In the first comment, there isn’t a personal connection with Trump, it is a transactional relationship that he feels ambivalent about. He feels like he was trapped on the yacht and didn’t have any good options. He needs to know that people understand him and the difficult position he is in. He wants a way to save face while not being shamed. His willingness to admit to his own lack of certainty about Trump is honest and vulnerable. He shows that his motivation for supporting Trump is mostly out of fear that another eight years of progressive/liberal presidential leadership would further alienate him from his country and erode his liberties. He felt he did the right thing, but is not entirely pleased with the results.
Both of those comments show some willingness to engage with the obvious realities of the Trump Presidency like the Russia probe and his bullying behavior. They accept their decision to vote for Trump and the difficulties that decision has created for them and the country without deflecting to Hillary Clinton, the Democrats, the media, or the FBI. In short, they accept their fair share of responsibility for the mess we are in because of the candidate they voted for. Owning up and taking responsibility is not too much to ask. Unfortunately, I have yet to see such an honest and vulnerable expression from a Trump supporter in three years. Instead they like to blame and shame the messenger which causes all kinds of havoc for my mental health.
To sum up, if you read my blog, I do post some political stuff. Some of the stuff I write might make you angry, especially if you are a Trump supporter. Do some self-reflection, share your feelings with me with at least the amount of vulnerability I have shown, and hopefully we can learn from one another. You don’t get to throw the hammer down on me when you aren’t willing to get a little vulnerable too. I am drawing a circle of protection for myself and my family. Be worthy of the privilege of being there.