The holidays are going to be difficult this year. It’s tragically true that the coronavirus pandemic has hobbled large traditional gatherings, but the past four years have hobbled many relationships.
No matter who wins the 2020 presidential election, some healing must take place if we’re going to stop our country from continuing on its trajectory of falling to shreds.
Frankly, I don’t clearly see how that healing is going to happen. It certainly won’t be as simple reaching out clasping hands with our adversaries. It’s not easy to smile on your brother if that brother (or sister) has demonstrated, through their support of a president who promotes violence, bullying, racism, and the mistreatment of women, that he or she supports those things, too.
They believe what Trump says: that if Joe Biden becomes president, the country will plummet into chaos, violence, and (gasp) socialism. I have difficulty understanding or justifying that point of view, but it is a point of view, and those who hold it will have just as much difficulty walking arm-in-arm with those of us who see hope in a president Joe Biden.
I am not of the mindset that, deep down, “people are the same wherever you go,” or even that all Americans, in their own way, want what they think is best for the country. To me, it seems clear that people who are motivated by hatred or even by a disinterest in others’ well-being are not the same as those who are not motivated by those things. Nor, to me, do they appear to want what’s best for America.
I won’t for one second extend an olive branch to a white supremacist, or to anyone else who advocates violence or terrorism against fellow human beings for any reason. But there are those others who don’t march with the white supremacists, or wield AR-15s to threaten peaceful protesters, or agree with Trump’s comments about military service personnel being losers, yet who have revealed an alarming side of themselves in one way or another in the demonstration of their continued support of Donald Trump.
Even if they have not directly endangered our lives or threatened our personal safety, they have indirectly endangered some others’ lives by promoting and supporting Donald Trump and his rhetoric of racism, division, and a version of “law and order” that blames Black people and “blue states” for all of the crime and destruction taking place across the country, and advocates the use of violence and weaponry against them as their remedy.
Come to think of it, they have also indirectly threatened the lives and well-being of all Americans in their support of Trump’s efforts to end the Affordable Care Act (which impacts some of the rules for all insurance plans, including private ones). What’s more, those of them who choose to follow Trump’s example of dismissing the coronavirus, refusing to wear masks, and scoffing at social distancing guidelines during this pandemic are part of a group that has placed all of our lives in jeopardy.
Many of them are our neighbors with whom we used to be friendly, but who haven’t spoken to us since we put up the Black Lives Matter yard signs. They are our friends and acquaintances with whom we used to share a laugh, until they began posting absurd conspiracy theories on social media, with the caption, “Do your research,” or “thought you might find this interesting.” They are the people in our lives who are offended when a football player kneels during the National Anthem, but who see the Trump Campaign’s deliberate disinformation ads as “freedom of speech.”
And some of them are our family members whom we’ve always loved, but with whom we can no longer have a conversation that goes any deeper than the topic of the weather.
I have relatives who have not only questioned my judgment for supporting Joe Biden; they have also questioned my morality for doing so, as I am compelled to question theirs for not doing so. Before 2016, they saw patriotism as loyalty to country; now they’re unable to distinguish between loyalty to country and loyalty to Trump. One of them lived in a country for several years that lost its fight to Soviet Communism, and they all used to see the threat of thugs like Putin as a threat to our democracy. Now, they make excuses for Trump’s adoration and deference to the man who was a KGB officer in the Soviet Union.
Many of us have loved ones like this, who have joined the Cult of Trump, and some of them shocked us when they did. We’re disturbed by the revelations of what’s in their hearts, yet we love them, and we need them in our lives. We want things to be different, and they aren’t. They wish we were different, and we aren’t. “If only they’d just wake up and see the truth,” both sides say.
We talk about “healing” as a nation, but is it really possible? If Joe Biden is elected president, he can set about mending our damaged relationships with our global allies, but our global allies have already seen us as we are now, a nation whose divisiveness, nurtured under Trump, has hollowed out our foundation. With so much hate, fear, pain, and division among us, how can we be a strong, reliable ally in the world again, as we seek to undermine each other— those within our own borders?
We may never again hold hands around a campfire with everyone who used to be in our lives. We may need to do some mourning. Some of our relationships are never going to be the same as a result of this presidency and the divisiveness it has relied on for nourishment. We’re bereft.
Our hope lies in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to guide us toward healing; toward feeling safe again, or, for some, feeling safe for the first time. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, if elected, would finally lay to silence the endless bullhorn of malice that blares from the White House day and night. That, alone, would be a powerful healing force. Biden and Harris have already shown that their approach to leading this divided nation will be not, “we’re better,” but instead, “we can do better.”
It seems inconceivable that Donald Trump could win four more years in the White House, but it’s possible. And if that happens, our great hope will lie in our ability to continue to believe that some kind of healing is also still possible. And no great, wide healing of our country will be possible under any president unless we start small, doing what we can to repair the damage in our small portion of the larger foundation. I am glad that there are many people who are more optimistic than I am. I don’t know what healing will look like or how it will occur. I am sure, though, that no matter what, we must never stop saying to ourselves, and of ourselves, “We can do better.”
President Trump speaks on cars with Trump flags swarming Biden bus in Texas | The Hill [2020-11-02]
We Asked Trump Voters What Happens If He Loses | Insider News