To those of my fellow Americans who voted for Trump,
I know that some of you may be now feeling a great sense of disappointment and despair, only just now realizing the possibility that you may subjected to four years under the Biden administration. Others among you are filled with righteous indignation, certain that the outcome of the election is not legitimate, determined to continue the fight to protect the real America.
I want you to know that I empathize with you, because four years ago I felt the same way. Though I supported Biden, I want you to know that it is not now glee and pride that fill my heart. I have no desire for taunting or revenge, no wish to rub your noses in this situation. Right now, my heart is filled with unease and determination at the size of the task ahead of us: your voice was heard loud and clear, this election was shockingly close and hard-fought, and it is obvious that roughly half of the country would have preferred to continue on the course Trump set us on. The process of reuniting America into truly united states will not be easy.
But I think we agree that we must reunite them. Have any of us really felt joy these past few years, suspicious that our political opponents wanted the worst for us? Have any of us been truly satisfied with losing friends and family members over political disagreements, of every news event or social phenomenon, from the NFL protests to movie casting decisions, becoming a battleground of boycotts and twitter storms? I certainly hope not. We all hope to see each other as Americans first, and to be able to partake of our shared cultural and political institutions without suspicion and anxiety.
I do not mean to imply that this problem is the result of only one end of the political spectrum. Without saying that they are equally complicit, I will say that the left and the right must both own up to their shares of responsibility in creating this climate of mutual suspicion and hostility. Being overzealously labeled as un-American or socialists breeds resentment among liberals – in the same way being overzealously labeled as racist or homophobic breeds resentment among conservatives. It’s not to say that socialism or racism or anti-Americanism or homophobia do not exist (nor they are equivalents; I am after all a supporter of the left and have strong views on such things), simply that we must stop seeing them as the hidden demons lurking under the surface of every ambiguous statement. We have, many of us, lost the ability to give the benefit of the doubt to our fellow Americans, and we feel that we must shoot first or be outdrawn. And when we all believe it, it becomes the reality.
I know that many people on the left would view you as irredeemable. Many would say that to have supported Trump, you are hopelessly deluded and must be purged from the national consciousness. I do not agree with these views. I know that you are my fellow Americans even if I disagree with you on some fundamental questions. I know that you have your reasons for believing what you do, and our votes and voices impact one another whether we listen to each other or not. So I choose to at least try. I know that extending the olive branch is an act that many – people of color or LGBTQ Americans for example, whose livelihoods are more threatened than mine – do not have the privilege of being able to share. I recognize that privilege, but I choose to use it to try to build a somewhat kinder country instead of re-entering the fray of a Cold Civil War.
This process will not be easy. It will require all of us to let our guards down without being sure that our interlocutors are letting down theirs. But that is the definition of trust. And we need trust, now more than ever.
I trust that even if I disagree with you, that you have valid reasons for what you believe, and that you are not trying to intentionally worsen this country or my life.
Please, trust me likewise.
Your fellow American