Slowly he chips away at all that is good, all that is decent, all that is humane. The weight gets heavier on my heart every day. It’s not enough that he’s lied, pushed our constitutional democracy to its limits, expounded his racism and bigotry, destroyed our standing in the world and allowed thousands upon thousands of people to die on his watch. With a shrug of his shoulders, he takes no responsibility, shows no remorse, paints those that don’t support him as the enemy. His fragile ego outweighs everything. He cares for no one and nothing, but his power, his greed, and himself. And yet those that support him will give up everything and anything for him. Why will they fall on their swords for him?
His collateral damage has destroyed the relationships and the bonds of families and friends. He did build his wall. Not the physical one on the border, but an ice cold shield that has divided friends, families and society. I came to a realization this week. I have lost people I love to the Cult of Trump. Not physically, but nonetheless, they are lost to me. Aunts, uncles, cousins, people that I grew up playing with, looked forward to spending holidays with, people that I missed when I moved away. These weren’t people I always agreed with politically, but at least I respected them and never questioned that at their core they were good. That they valued empathy, compassion, love and respect. We could disagree on a certain issue here or there, but that’s all it was, a disagreement.
Now there is an emptiness, a level of darkness that stands where they once stood. They say they are Christians, they go to church every Sunday. They say they aren’t racists, they have “friends” of other ethnicities. They say it’s all the left’s fault or the guy who didn’t comply with the police officer. They will cheer and defend a man who is morally, ethically and spiritually bankrupt. And they look in the mirror and don’t even realize that they’ve handed over their humanity to a man who doesn’t care about them.
Last weekend, after seeing one too many dehumanizing memes and seeing a family member defend a teenager who shot two people in cold blood, I finally had to admit that I had lost them to the Cult of Trump. I had to admit that people I love are white supremacists (even if they don’t think they are) and all the good I once saw in them I can no longer see. They of course, will not admit this. They will spew the fear mongering that comes from their leader. They will cloak their racism (whether always there and hidden or slowly bred over the past four years). They won’t listen to science, to data, to logic. They won’t even listen to calls of heartbreak. And they sure as hell won’t listen to me.
This might sound extreme to some. After all, they’re family, why can’t I just ignore the politics or compartmentalize my feelings? This is why. I can’t laugh at their jokes, I can’t connect with them on a human level, I can’t respect them, I can’t get over the constant disappointment that I can no longer find the good in them. I can’t pick up the phone to catch up and not picture them cheering on Trump as he spews his hateful rhetoric and mocks the disabled or a veteran; as he clearly lies over and over again. All the things I value in life, the things I want to teach my children, these people no longer represent. I’m grateful this is not my immediate family; I don’t think I could bear that. That doesn’t mean I am not sad or angry. Even when he is no longer here, in my eyes, he has ruined people I love. And I’m not sure I will ever be able to move past it.
Trump built his wall. On one side there are facts; the other conspiracies. On one side there is compassion, empathy, humanity; on the other there is fear, hatred, bullying. On one side there is a democratic republic, a great experiment that has lasted more than 200 years; on the other side there is an aspiring autocrat empowered by a Russian dictator. Finally, on one side there are heartbroken family and friends that can no longer recognize the people they love anymore and on the other side; the Cult of Trump, who can no longer see what they once were.
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