Sunday, August 28, 2016

An Open Letter to Republican Family Members and Friends

Dear Republican Family Members and Friends,

I am quite frankly terrified of what I see happening this election year and I will not be able to relax unless and until Hillary Clinton is declared the winner in what I hope and pray will be a landslide victory on Tuesday, November 8th. Please bear with me and keep reading: I'm writing this as a blog post to give you an opportunity to comment at the end.

I worried about Donald Trump's candidacy long before most people I know took it seriously, indeed, long before most of the media took it for anything other than an opportunity to boost ratings.

Last December I posted this on Facebook:
I have family and friends that I love and respect that identify as Republicans. It's not Trump that scares me so much as the fact that he is still a serious candidate for the GOP nomination. Trump is a megalomaniac that will say anything for the spotlight. The rest of the GOP pool is not much better, except by comparison to this monster. The really terrifying thing is that so many Americans are inspired, motivated and energized by these views which are so fundamentally at odds with American values. Reasonable Republicans: where are you?! (emphasis added)

What concerned me then - and concerns me even more as I write this in August 2016, is the fact that he has started a national movement based on fear, ignorance and hate. His platform is not about making America "great"; it's about making America hate. And if you hate Hillary, that just feeds the movement.

Most of my extended family votes Republican most of the time. It's no secret that my politics are very far left of most of yours. And yet, I've always believed that our core values are fundamentally the same; we just have very different ideas about the way to achieve what we believe in. We have had heated discussions about everything under the sun but no matter how hot the topic, at no point have I ever questioned my love and respect for you or your love and respect for me.

The 2016 election for the president is not about traditional Democrats and Republicans or Liberals and Conservatives. This year it's not really about whatever any of us think is best for the economy, taxes, healthcare, immigration, the Middle East, Russia or any other issue.

The 2016 election is between preserving democracy and fascism. I am truly afraid that if Donald Trump is elected in November, the 2016 election will be the last democratic election this country will hold for a very, very long time.

Whatever you think about Hillary Clinton, the fact is that under a Clinton presidency, you will continue to have all of the rights that Americans from the far left to the far right take for granted: the right to peaceably assemble, the right to express your opinions, the right - or even the responsibility - to disagree, sometimes vehemently, with the government.

Candidate Trump has made it absolutely clear that he does not tolerate dissent and that violence is his go-to solution. He is ignorant of and indifferent to the Constitution, balance of powers, bill of rights, due process. He mocks it and his supporters eat it up. He has also made it abundantly clear that he is not interested in accommodating mainstream Republicans or taking input from advisers. Donald Trump is interested in one thing and one thing only: Donald Trump.

In other words, a Donald Trump presidency will look a lot like any other dictatorship, complete with pictures of "our leader" posted in every home to demonstrate fealty. Dissenters will face imprisonment, torture, or death.

When my father, a lifetime straight-ticket Republican voter, told me that he would never, ever vote for Trump, I burst into tears of relief. However, recently a member of the extended family said they were considering voting for him and I was stunned. It pains me and I can't stop thinking about it.

I know a lot of people "hate" Hillary but I'm not even going to try to address that. You don't have to love Hillary. You have to understand that if Hillary is president, you'll have an opportunity to rebuild the opposition, whether it's the GOP or something new. It really isn't about Hillary this year. It's life and death for American democracy.

First, do no harm. Then, start tackling the issues that have led to such enormous disaffection with the system.

With love and respect,