Holiday compassion for conservatives
Question for Milo Y., Tomi L., Breitbart, Alt-Right and other Trumpsters who continue to slam liberals even as the Trump presidency and complete GOP control of Washington looms: Why are you still snarking? You won! Enjoy!
You conservatives blew us out of the water, locked your dominance in Washington and across the states and nation, turned blue counties red, and sent the Dems off into the same soul-searching woods where leading Republicans had relegated the GOP before the election. You got everything you wanted. You run the country now. You’re raising and making terrific money from people who believe what you say and sell.
With that, would it be churlish to ask you to act like leaders and lead? At least, to act like the Republicans we used to know, the party of traditional good manners, social grace, sense of decency and decorum, upholding the values our parents and grandparents lived?
In the old doctor-office Highlights magazine cartoon feature, Republicans were Gallant, the model of the polite child and solid citizen, while the Dems were Goofus, questioning traditional values, hierarchy, authority, rules and manners. So, Trumpsters, be Gallant!
To confess, I responded to Trump’s triumph like Goofus would — churlish, combative, in no mood to forgive and join hands with people who seemed to want to make America hate again with no clear plan to make it great again.
In my darkest hours, Trump voters, some if not many, were at best poor ignorant saps for snake oil and fake news, bewildered by a complex changing world that left them behind and felt patronized by the bi-coastal smarty pants with no common sense (who write pieces like this). At worst, Trumpsters seemed resentful, spiteful and secretly racist, and more passionate about tearing down than informed and inspired to help build up, flipping JFK’s challenge, believing the country owes them more than they owe the country. Forgive me, but that’s how Trumpsters have sounded on social media.
Imagine if Hillary had won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote with Putin’s hacker help (the ultimate voter fraud) and had filled her cabinet with Wall Street billionaires. We’d have Trumpster fire in the streets, citizens storming Washington with masses of people like the misguided guy who shot up a humble Northwest suburban DC ping-pong bar (where I’ve paddled and quaffed) looking for Hillary’s child-slavery trade. The hate mail the electors suffered this week even as they awarded Trump his apparent due is just a hint. Perhaps we’d even suffer a constitutional crisis as the GOP Congress knelt to the mobs that our Founders worried about, who insisted that democracy means “one man one vote” and the Electoral College is a bunch of Soviet-style elitists trumping the will of the people.
I get it: However Trump was elected, whatever he does, it’s ok and forgiven and even embraced as “draining the swamp’; if Hillary did it, not ok. He’s rubber. She’s glue. I get cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias — in the post-fact age with bewildering TMI, we devolve to gut sense, what we believe, damn the facts.
These crappy, uncharitable thoughts have tortured me since the election. But then, behold, a light came unto me. Maybe it’s because anger is exhausting. Maybe it’s because I saw A Charlie Brown Christmas again, or heard the Whos in Whoville sing again, or joined Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in their rendition of “It’s a marshmallow world in the winter” (again).
But somehow, my heart grew three times and I remembered the true meaning of liberalism: Peace on earth, good will toward men (and people of all gender identities).
With my epiphany came the same flood of understanding and compassion that, being liberal, allows me to excuse hardened criminals, coddle fragile college students, and defend and bless the hearts of illegal immigrants, welfare cheats, climate change hoaxers, Hillary Clinton, and yes, Trumpsters.
Transformed by the power of love, I’m sending the liberal haters a warm loving hug. Your anger and resentment is not your fault. I feel your pain. I understand why you’re acting out:
You’re hung over. The elections were quite a party. It was wild. It was fun. You said things in public, out loud, at rallies and on the internet, you wouldn’t dare say at the Thanksgiving table, certainly not in front of grandma who supported the civil rights movement. You don’t remember everything from the elections, but you have a vague sense of guilt, possibly remorse, and hope you did nothing too deplorable. The cold harsh light of the January inaugural could be brutal. Liberal bashing might be the much needed hair of dog. Partake as you so clearly need.
You have buyer’s remorse. We all learned: Never shop while intoxicated. Things we buy rarely look as wise when sober. Now, with all the Trump transition chaos, odd cabinet picks, ignorance-is-virtue sensibility, f-you to decorum and snarky POTUS-elect tweeting, your guy is not looking so presidential. At least not like the presidents we learned about in school or the world expects from the model nation. Sorry. Like an impulse-bought ferret, you can’t take him back. You have him for at least four years. I really, really do share your remorse. (On a happy note, Trump’s comment, “I get it when I need it,” was not from the Billy Bush/Access Hollywood p-grab tape. He was talking about intelligence briefings.)
You broke it, you bought it. You want to repeal Obamacare. Repeal the Dodd-Frank post-financial collapse remedies. Reverse the horrible Obama executive orders on gun control, immigration, climate change, student loans, etc. And of course, shut down Fannie and Freddie. After we trash these travesties, you want to replace them with … ah … something. Welcome to the tricky part. Nobody, including Trumpsters, has any easy replacements that wouldn’t hurt most people. Few in Congress agree on any leading proposals. The Republicans themselves are divided. Take Fannie Mae, where I once worked. They fund 90 percent of home loans in America. Shut them down and home building and sales dry up, homeowners go into foreclosure, the housing market collapses, and the economy tailspins again. Doubt that? Ask your mortgage lender, real estate agent or homebuilder — hardly a liberal bunch. They would freak right out if Fannie were shut down. Trumpsters would be the first people hurt. Same with the healthcare — you can’t kill Obamacare and keep the parts you like. Hating is easy; fixing is hard. If you’re a conservative, and want to know what you can do for your country, check out the American Enterprise Institute website. It has a lot of great policy reading if you want to get involved in making things better. I may not agree but I’m looking forward to your success.
You’re scared. A friend once said, “Insecurity is the most powerful force in the universe.” It can make good people do bad things, nations go to war and dogs bite. Insecurity can even make people foment insecurity — they create fear to gain and keep power because their self-confidence is lacking. (We’ve all had bosses like that, right?) History is replete with reigns, regimes and reichs that picked out and picked on a group of people to create a common enemy to rally against and blame.)
So I understand the continued attack on liberals. And I’m not making a horrific analogy here, comparing Milo, Tomi, Breitbart and the Alt-Right with Joseph Goebbels (who surely would scoff at their jejune efforts). Instead, as a liberal, I want to offer the reassuring hug that the Trumpsers so clearly, desperately need, whispering to them with our combined flowing tears, that they really are good, decent people, even when — especially when — they need to attack the good, decent people they vanquished.
Most of all, in this holiday season of compassion and forgiving, I wish that everyone will understand that Trumpsters are not making an enemy of the liberals for kicks or cruelty. They’re hurting. They need our love. Let’s give it to them. For their sake and the nation’s. ’Tis the season.