Once again, I find myself writing with, in part, a reconciliatory tone.
Do not doubt that within me is a passionate liberal rage, a tendency for frustration, and at times, complete anger regarding right-wing policy. Yet, I feel that some things are important to reassure to a larger audience.
It's real. He's here. Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States. I left just in time. Only the second week of January, I was on a plane to Europe to spend a semester here in Rome. Consideratemi un rifugiato. Cerco di divenire un clandestino. "Consider me a refugee. Help become an illegal immigrant here," I joke with many of the local Italians. I might not be home- but it's real.
So far, I've yet to feel seriously homesick. Nostalgic at best, I recognize that America will always be my home, my upbringing that I carry with me no matter where my travels take me. Undoubtedly, no moment has brought me back as strongly as inauguration weekend. Last Friday, discouraged, I had more than enough gratitude that I will be here for the next several months. On Saturday, however, I finally gave CNN the time of day for the first time in two weeks, really wishing that I could be part of these protests, the #WomensMarch where D.C. police recorded not a single arrest (1)! With all the change that's occurring our country, it's hard to turn an eye, no matter how many miles and continents away one might be.
While I undoubtedly support the intentions and message of the #WomensMarch, and all similar peaceful protests, and believe that we must pressure this new administration with the fullest of our civil voices, to protect the freedoms and progress we have gained over the past several years, I would like to assert something I believe is truly important. There is certainly plenty of national tension, partisanship and scrutiny. Yet, I would like to reassure all my friends who voted to put this man in office, we all know who we are, that despite what the media and perhaps the far-left might have you think, I do not judge you or think any less of you because you voted for Donald Trump.
It's no secret how I personally feel about the President. My annoying Facebook rants, my general demeanor, it's no secret that I disagree with your choice. Rest assured, I, personally, still respect your democratic voice. I respect your right to vote the way you please, to feel the way you please, and to speak the way you please. This isn't just because it's the right thing to do, this isn't just because we desperately need to move toward a more unified society, it's because we also depend on you. We depend on each other.
"I voted for Donald Trump for economic reasons." "I voted for Donald Trump because he is going to bring back jobs."
I hope he does. While I disagree with you on how this going to happen, I respect your reasoning and intentions. It's more or less a point of common knowledge that Republicans of our generation are crafted differently than those of the generation before. Trade, taxes, economic regulations, the Millennial Republican is in it for the money issues, the math that's really worth debating. Abortion, marriage equality, social and civil rights, we know....we're all fortunately moving in the right direction. To my friends who voted for Donald Trump, I am not going to judge you as some racist, bigot, *insert word here*, if your intentions truly aren't so. However, I am now going to hold you more accountable, because of this same reasoning.
This past weekend, we all witnessed a spectrum of protests in reaction to our new President, and then the reaction of him and his administration to these protests. It almost goes without saying that any protest involving violence and destruction of property ought to be condemned. It frustrates me, personally, to see such violence occur as I believe it is absolutely counterproductive, and simply fuels conservative commentators, the next Tomi Lahren segment, when discussing 'whiny liberal disobedience.' Yet, I am absolutely proud of the peaceful #WomensMarch protests the following day. You might not innately agree with premises of these protests, question whether or not, if you as a Trump voter, are truly voiced by these protestors. The matter of fact is, despite perhaps a tendency to be cynical, you are, and if anything they count on your voice to speak up.
A protest successfully non-violent, conservative pundits were left noticeably without much substantial criticism. "They should redirect their anger towards countries that really oppress woman, like Saudi Arabia, not our democratically elected President," was one point I simply kept hearing over and over again. But clearly, this distracts from the point. While yes, women's and gender issues may truly be much worse other places, we live in the United States, and we have elected a true 'wild card' of President and Vice-President with uncertain intentions regarding the cultural progress we've made.
"I voted for Donald Trump because of jobs." Okay, great. We have elected a Presidential ticket with a conservative economic point-of-view. We have elected the political wildcard to come in and disrupt the corrupt Washington establishment, drain the swamp. Yet, we have elected such a political wild-card, it would really be naïve to assume that these next four years will play by any standard political playbook.
Why does your voice matter now, more than ever? "I voted for Donald Trump because of jobs." You are his supporters. He already knows we're his "enemies" and can frankly give a crap about what a lot of us have to say. You are his supporters. You form his base. You bear the most potential to keep this wild-card President in-line the way you all had voted for. I know none of you, the Trump supporters I know, voted for him because you believe Muslims are inherently dangerous. You didn't vote for him because you believe the Latino population is inherently corrupting our culture and job market. You didn't vote for him because you agree with the Vice-President that overturning Roe v. Wade should be in our future, and that electro-therapy is a plausible option for curing homosexuality. I know why you voted for him. This is why we need your voice, to remind him of such.
We need your voice to remind the new President that draining the swamp didn't mean replacing politicians with billionaires. We need your voice to remind the new President that the idea of a having a registered database of any demographic is inherently un-American, and frankly, dangerous, given how such precedent has developed in history. We need your voice to remind the new President (really more, the Vice President), that gay-marriage is a done-deal, and frankly an irrelevant issue toward "Making America Great Again". We need your voice to remind him when he oversteps the pretexts to which you elected him.
So what am I promising? Is this a deal, some sort of exchange? Perhaps. My promise is cut-clear: to respect Donald Trump in the way I feel that media Republicans failed to respect Obama. He is the President. Yes, he is my President, and for this reasoning, I will hold his feet to the fire when it is due, and I will give him credit when it is due. I refuse to partake in this partisanship where we are determined to discredit the accomplishments of the other to perpetuate a political divide. To name a few, while I think it was perhaps naïve on a geopolitical scale, I commend Trump for recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign, democratic state. I commend Trump for his intentions on trade. I commend Trump for his economic vision, though I disagree in how he will get there. I commend Trump for loosening political formalities, though I certainly think he often goes to far.
I disagree with you choice, but I do not think any less of you, all of my friends who voted for Donald Trump. I have full respect for our democracy, and believe you are as entitled to express your fondness for Donald Trump as is anyone else with their candidate. Yet, I believe you all have a responsibility now that you may have not realized. We tend to cast such political responsibilities to the other team, 'It's the whiny liberal's problem now.' Democracy is not a partisan problem. We must hold Donald Trump accountable for all that he does. We must refuse to accept 'alternative facts' as an explanation for misinformation, while at the same time, we must hold the media accountable for how they manage information. We must hold Donald Trump accountable for now refusing to release his tax-returns despite making it a central campaign progress. We must be cognizant of how exactly we 'drain the swamp.' Was a cabinet of billionaires truly the intention? Did 'drain the swamp' simply mean a shift from the political to the corporate establishment?
I can't speak for your thoughts. I can't speak for how much or how little you agree with this responsibility I feel you all have. However, I think we can all agree, we elected this President as a wild-card, a political reset-button, and now we must all be conscious, of how such a 'reset-button' will develop. I think we can all agree, that respecting each other is the only way to move forward. I think we can all agree, that perhaps it is our generation that has the best shot at political reconcilement, as appears that our parents simply cannot.
1. McCausl, Phil. "Peace, Positivity as Massive Women's March Makes Voices Heard in D.C."NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 22 Jan. 2017. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.
Penn State College