I never thought Trump was funny. I never thought watching him run for office was funny. Watching his rise to power has been frightening and emotionally crushing for me. I’ve wanted to write something before, but I feel an overwhelming helpless when I think about it, because his followers are so hate filled and irrational that it seems as it nothing I say will reach them or change their minds.
But after the horrible displays of hate over the weekend, after the Nazi salutes and cries of “Heil Hitler” from his fans, I can’t stay silent.
Trump is one man. But he has power because he is tapping into the hate that a lot of people feel for others. And it saddens me to see that hatred so openly flaunted.
No, I never had any delusions that we lived in a post racial society. People holding racist and xenophobic attitudes is nothing new. But the openness with which they are displaying them are. And it’s not just distasteful hate symbols, people have been assaulted at his rallies. Trump has even thought about paying the legal fees of those who engage in such violence!
What truly scares me is his if “you’re not with us, you’re against us,” mentality, and if you dare to disagree with Trump, then you deserve to be roughed up or killed.
And this is why Trump has always scared me. He reminds me of the people who bullied me in elementary school. Yes, I was different. But my difference was not even tolerated much less celebrated. I was ridiculed, called a “retard”, physically assaulted, cornered against walls while people shouted out me.
And I told the teacher. And I became the troublemaker because I told the teacher.
The teacher and administrative staff have the power in schools. And they encouraged the bullying because the kids who were bullying had parents who were active in the PTA and they did not want to alienate them. At one point the assistant principal sat down with me at lunch and, in front of the whole class, blamed me and told me that I wouldn’t be bullied if I stopped reading and tried to interact more with my classmates. Then she threatened to put me in an alternate program if I didn’t get along with my classmates.
I want to emphasize I was never violent. I never said a mean thing to them. I was very quiet and, when I’m stressed or scared, I tend to become more so. My sole crime for this assistant principal to focus on was that I was reading too much. At school.
My parents had to take me out of that school and homeschool me for a few months while they researched other schools in the area that would be more pro-active against bullying.
Here’s the thing. Trump is no different from the assistant principal who told me to play nice with others. He is making a scapegoat of people who have the least say in our political process. The people in power in the country are predominantly rich white Christian men, not Muslims, not immigrants, not the poor, not blacks, not women. The people in power make the rules, not the other way around. People in power do not cater to the underdogs. Representation matters!
Further, diversity matters. Here’s the thing, I think very highly of myself, but I don’t think so highly of others. When people reject me, I place the blame on them for not being open minded enough, even though it hurts. Because I want to be appreciated for my talents and for my opposing points of view. But too often I feel like I’m that annoying voice who is arguing against what everyone else wants to believe. My life experiences are unique and bring something to the table.
Same with Muslims, and immigrants, and poor and blacks. I went to high school in an area with a large immigrant population and, since a lot of them were non-Christian, I tended to get along with people from Vietnam and India better than white people. No matter where they were from, I got to see their humanity up hand and personal, and see the value that they brought to our country.
But Trump and his supporters don’t want to hear it. They want to shut down people who think different and who are different. They don’t even want people who are different to have a voice. This is not a democracy. This is totalitarianism. In a democracy, even people who are in the minority have rights and protections.
And I am distraught that so many people are supporting him. Seeing people cheer on a bully after what happened to me growing up? It makes me indescribably sad. Seeing people so willing to hand him power? It makes me fearful.
America, we should be better than this. But as he comes closer to securing the Republican nomination, well, I’ve not been this disappointed in our electorate since Bush won in 2004.