Dear President Trump,
One of the most important lessons I learned from my political essay teacher last year is that it’s perfectly legitimate to create work that supports one’s own constituency rather than always trying to speak to everyone or attempting to sway those who don’t agree with us. Along these lines, I’ve been thinking about two things in particular. The first is Nancy Pelosi’s on-camera work of carefully dividing the pages of your speech into quarters and then slowly and deliberately ripping each little stack neatly in two. Her action was called defiant and rebellious by the media and a friend of mine who regularly sports a “F*CK TRUMP” t-shirt said she thought it was a step too far, that it was too disrespectful. It wasn’t until my friend expressed her opinion that I realized Pelosi did it for all of us who dreaded your certain upcoming acquittal the next day, who felt disgusted and disturbed by the copious lies laced throughout the speech, and who were dismayed by the bloodlust carnival atmosphere on the GOP side of the room.
Pelosi knows that you and yours will hate on her no matter what she does – she has nothing to lose as far as you all are concerned. She took the opportunity to let her actions speak louder than any words she could have uttered by ripping you four new ones on national television right behind your head while you were both in the frame. Yes, it sent a defiant all-points bulletin of a message, but it was really a demonstration of solidarity and an urgent call to bold, go for it action. It was for us.
The second way that the idea of speaking to and supporting ones’ own constituents came up recently is in response to the “what will make a difference?” question I keep coming back to. Yesterday at church some friends and I were talking about this and one of them said he’d spent two hours on Saturday talking with a friend of his who voted for you and who plans to vote for you again. My friend said that none of his arguments swayed his friend in the least, that his friend is absolutely convinced that a vote for you is a vote that helps him and his family maintain their upper middle class lifestyle far into the future because you will somehow protect them from climate change and demographic shifts that would normally mean shifts in who controls power and resources (I’m presuming my friend’s friend is White and straight, though this wasn’t specified). I asked my friend whether his friend was able to sway him, to open the door for him considering voting for you and he shook his head “no” as in in “no way.”
I bring this example up because my sense is that while it’s painful to see people we care about sign on with a lying misogynistic, xenophobic White supremacist who is trashing the planet for his own gain, we aren’t likely to make much, if any, headway with them. I may be wrong about this – there may be persuadable Trump 2016 voters out there who my friend or I might be able to reach and bring back into the land of the living, but I don’t know how to find them and I honestly don’t know what to say to them that would help.
Thus, my strong sense, at least right now, is that it’s crucial to build up and support those of us who are teetering on the edge of feeling defeated, demoralized, and/or disempowered by your well-oiled machine. We have to reach out to those folks so they don’t sink into fatigue-driven retreat or hopelessness. I know it seems really, really basic, but we have to keep loving and supporting and listening to one another to have any chance of defeating you since all we have are our voices and our votes as we go up against someone who has vowed to cheat any and every chance he gets.
May we be safe as we publicly defy you.
May we be strategic in our care and support of sister resisters.*
May we help keep one another healthy and strong.
May we not sink into complacency or make peace with fascism.
*and brothers and non-binary siblings – I just couldn’t resist the way ‘sister resisters’ sounds 🙂