I appreciate the fact that you haven't reached out in the last day or so. You were right to assume that my wife, I, and many people like us are having trouble rationalizing the events of the election. The space has been necessary for us.
This e-mail serves two functions. First, it is my vent, as I know our relationship can take it, and I know you're interested in my perspective. This will not be my entire perspective, but will encapsulate many thoughts I've been having. Second, this will hopefully serve as a first wave for terms of discussion later—ways that we can engage productively about the election and our President elect going into the future.
On the second point, I believe that your vote for Trump—personally, and as your position in the news media—has conceded a few issues to me that you've been proffering the last 8-10 years. And bringing up these issues in the future will no longer lead to fruitful discussion. I hope that we can agree that the points are no longer worth further consideration. They are:
For 8 years, I've had to listen to you talk about how Obama is a bad leader because he's about tearing people apart, rather than bringing him together.
This election, you voted for someone who has traded on nothing but divisiveness the entire campaign. As he is not yet in office, I do not accept as a defense that he will "act differently once he's governing." Over the last year, he has provided no evidence for that—other than that he has proven a consistent liar throughout his tenure. This certainly doesn't count as a virtue in my book, especially considering that his track record of lies dwarfs any candidate in recent memory. We have no idea how he will govern because he has a record of saying whatever to anyone if it sounds like it will work at the time.
Just a few points of open, public division he purposefully sown:
- Trump started his campaign by publicly calling many Mexican Immigrants rapists—a group that includes over 11.7 million people by conservative estimates, which doesn't include families;
- he disparaged Muslim Americans and all people of the Islamic faith, which is about 3.3 million people currently in America (not to mention at least 1.6 billion worldwide);
- he's made quite clear his thoughts on women—which contributed the largest gender gap in voting since 1972—and a point I'll return to in the "Role Model" section;
- he's openly mocked a disabled reporter (more on that in "Rule of Law" section), and whether or not you believe he was mocking him personally, or was doing as Ann Coulter defended, "a standard retard impression," he's not doing much to unite that front either. Estimates ranging from 30 million to 50 million people in America having some form of socially constraining disability. 400,000 Americans have Downs Syndrome, approximately 6,000 are born each year, and they have parents and families who love them and believe in them.
- Oh, and the certainly not-divisive idea of jailing his Democrat opposition. (More again in "Rule of Law"—don't worry, based on his nice words towards Clinton immediately after winning, it doesn't sound like he'll be following that one through.)
Obviously, I can continue on about the various groups, franchised or disenfranchised, that Trump has used as a punching bag on his way to the top, but that's superfluous to the main idea that Trump is the most divisive major candidate in modern history.
Trump has gleefully fueled these flames to get out the vote with people who agree with him, and I don't blame him for that. He did what worked for him. But I refuse to accept any talk in the future about divisiveness being a valid reason for your dislike of Obama. Trump has constantly shown himself purposefully divisive, further pulling the poles away from one another. A vote for Trump says clearly to me that rather than Obama's divisiveness, you just didn't like that Obama disagreed with you on political issues.
(2) Rule of Law
Much of our discussion about Obama revolved around the perceived power grabs within the executive branch, doing things "against the Constitution." Again, I feel that a vote for Trump also concedes this point. Not that Obama didn't extend the power of the branch, but that your distain for Obama wasn't born from his positions in that regard—and as we've discussed, haven't really been much different than Presidents who came before him.
Trump has publicly advocated for:
- Banning all Muslims from entering this country, and/or banning them from this country. (Of which all mention has been scrubbed from his website since the election. No surprise there.)
- Killing families of terrorists—basically the textbook definition of a war crime.
- Loosening libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists. He has shown no respect for reporters and the press—evidenced, for one, by his first act as President Elect of not allowing reporters to travel on his trip to meet Obama. (While he actively forwards the type of journalism done by his campaign executive officer, Stephen Bannon at Breitbart news. We could certainly debate the merits of using the term "propaganda" here, as I hope that a newsman would respect.)
- Paying for the legal bills of anyone who punches a protestor at his rallies. (He since reneged on that offer after someone tried to take him up on it, not unlike the countless subcontractors who've said he's refused to pay them for services and goods over the years—a fact he seems quite proud of.)
- Torture and specifically waterboarding, which since George W. Bush is agreed upon as torture under U.S. and International law. And John Yoo (of the famous Yoo Memo, the author of Bush's position on waterboarding and Enhanced Interrogation) came out saying that Trump doesn't understand the implications of waterboarding.
- Open bias against him by a judge due to non-American parentage (the judge is an American-born citizen). He has also shown no respect for judges, trying his "bias" case not with recusal filings—which were not filed—but by appealing to his large media empire. This shows savage lack of respect for the rule of law, and the role of the judiciary in general.
He said that the judge has an "inherent conflict of interest" because he's "of Mexican heritage" [emphasis added]. (We should add this back into the "Divisiveness" category too, right?) When pressed that we have a tradition in this country of not judging based on heritage in the judiciary he said, "I'm not talking about tradition ... I'm talking about common sense."
Is an inherent conflict of interest based on heritage now common sense? Seems he's admitting to his own divisiveness too.
- Judgment against the Central Park Five, despite their exoneration and release, deemed wrongly convicted from a case in 1989. He believes "they're still guilty" and should be judged as such.
- Jailing a political opponent despite the justice department saying that she is not a criminal.
- NEW ADDITION: Trump has said that he will try to appoint justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, a case with 43 years of precedent, and a whole wing of law shaped around it. Yet, in the same interview said that gay marriage is "the law of the land" and we must obey the law. Either he doesn't know how this works, or he doesn't care.
Some of these things said in a private capacity are not blameworthy, but when seeking the highest office in the land, while disparaging these institutions—and further, the Constitution—is patently disrespectful of order, and the Rule of Law. For years I listened to how Obama had no respect for the Constitution or Rule of Law, yet you voted for a candidate who actively suggests that the only law that matters is his interpretation of the law.
I don't want to hear that adherence and respect for the rule of law was an issue for you not liking Obama.
(3) President as a Role Model
This has little to do with anything other than the fact that I had to sit and listen to why having the rapper Common visit the White House was an affront because of lyrics he wrote in a display of artistry. "That type of person" shouldn't be representing such abhorrent views in the White House, you said. (Of course, say nothing for the fact that George W. Bush also brought a man to the White House with the lyrics, "I killed a man in Reno, just to watch him die.")
Donald Trump, with no veil of artistic expression, has constantly demeaned women in the most derogatory of ways. The retrograde sentiments against women, immigrants, and Muslim Americans is now reverberating through the schools in the country. Feel free to read some of the survey comments from Elementary School teachers six months ago—pre-future presidential status—now literally titled "The Trump Effect."
If you don't feel the way someone comports themselves in the highest public office matters, then I shouldn't have had to listen to Bill Clinton–hating talk, nor the negative regards toward whoever Obama brought to the White House, and the things they had said previous to their visit.
You brought an openly bigoted misogynist, with more disgusting quotes than the entire Common discography into the White House—and not just for a day's performance, but for four years.
If you don't think that the way our President openly feels about women, or immigrants, or Muslims, has an effect on how children are perceived by their peers, and how they perceive themselves, that's fine. But if that's the case, I certainly shouldn't have had to listen to how Obama's presence was devaluing the morals of the office.
There are tons of points and issues we can discuss constructively going forward, and I'm excited , as usual. But as I have always tried to listen to everything you've had to say in your unfettered Obama hatred, these are the three biggest points sticking in my craw—that I now view as hypocrisies.
Obama certainly has his problems—both as President, and as candidate—but these three issues in particular seem no longer worth engaging.
We can talk about the failure of the DNC both in candidate choice and appeal to Americans without college educations who make less than $30,000/year; we can talk about the unfavorability of and problems with the chosen candidate; we can talk about the smugness and lack of empathy of American liberalism which certainly added fuel to the rural counties' high voter turnout in conjunction with Trump's ability to do so; we can talk about how Obama's failure to correct, and furtherance of, the terrible drone and bombing policy in the Middle East allowed the machine to be in the hands of an avowed Muslim hater.
But moreover, we can talk about our hopes for the next four years in political leadership; we can talk about potential large changes to foreign policy, both with regards to war and trade that would never happen without a maverick like Trump; or we could talk about the potential election-law, lobbying, and electoral-college reform now on the table like it never has been before. We can talk about the best way forward for all of us.
I just can't do any of that with a straight face without hearing some sort of recognition that many of the complaints you rallied against Obama for almost the entire decade, not only apply to the candidate you just voted for, but are apparent in much higher doses than with the almost-too-stoically composed current Commander in Chief.
I feel you used those arguments to further justify your position against Obama, even though they held little weight for you—as your vote for Trump has shown. Not a vote for Clinton (who has her own issues), not for a third party, and not as an unbroken chad in the "President/Vice President" slot on your ballot—but a vote for someone with literally zero political experience, zero evidence of any sort of prevailing worldview outside of his own aggrandizement, and has been shown to say anything—no matter how outlandish—as long as the crowd likes it.
I love you very much. And I'll talk to you soon,