An open letter to all Americans

Slinging derogatory terms around to describe political leanings has become commonplace in modern American discourse – neither the left-wing nor the alt-right are innocent in that. But one word you don’t hear in many of our polarized conversations of late is the only one that really matters: human.

There was a time when politicians and citizens could both literally and theoretically cross the aisle. We had long and heated debates about things like taxes and gun control, but in the end, you’d often find those same opponents commiserating together over a beer. In better times, strong opinions and beliefs were tempered by an ability to hear the other side and make compromises for the better good. These are not those times.

I desperately miss humanity right now and the best way I know to deal with that is to be as human as I can be. I am writing to share my own story and I hope that you’ll take the invitation to respectfully return the favor so that we can begin to understand each other.

I don’t hate the other side but I do the hate the choices they’ve made and I’ll share two simple but substantial reasons why.

First, I am a woman and mother.

I am a survivor of sexual assault, as are many women I know. It is reported by RAINN that one out of every six women in America has been the victim of sexual violence at some point in her life. Unfortunately, that statistic does not account for the two out of every three assaults go unreported.

Donald Trump has been accused of rape or sexual assault on numerous and unrelated occasions. He’s used language that seems to condone the violation of women. What message has this election sent to predators? Protecting my 13-year-old girl and teaching my boys to respect women just became much harder. The increased fear I have for them is almost unbearable and I’m not in any way okay with that.

Second, I will never stand for racism or xenophobia.

My family is a mixture of races and religions, as are my friends. The rise of intolerance and hate crimes throughout this election cycle has made me worry for the safety of people I love. And it only seems to be getting worse by the day. Incidents have increased dramatically since the electoral college count came in.

What am I supposed to say when my kids ask why the new president wants to deport or ban their friends? How do I explain the surge of racial tension reported in the news? I don’t have good answers to those questions because I can’t understand them myself.

I’ve asked decent, good-natured Republicans why they voted for Trump and have encountered some common responses. Many have put faith in his ability as a businessman and just as many hope he won’t do most of what he promised on the campaign trail.

Here’s my problem with that: he never proved that he was a good businessman through any tangible evidence like his tax returns, but he did clearly state what he wanted to do as president. He showed us who he is and nearly half the nation chose to ignore the obvious in exchange for the fantasy. We’ve traded our humanity for unsubstantiated promises and hope for “hope not.

Our reluctance to acknowledge each other as human beings with real lives and real fears has created the situation we are currently in, where half the country is celebrating and the other half is crying.

I have too much faith in humanity to accept that this is who we are and have to believe that we’ve arrived here because we’ve lost sight of what matters. People feel strongly on both sides and everyone should have a place at the table to express what is important to them and why, but this is not the way to go about it.

I write this hoping it might resonate with at least one person on the other side of the ideological aisle so that in turn they might share their story and help me understand their point of view. We may not like what each other has to say, but starting the conversation is the best first step to bridging the divide before it has the chance to get any worse.

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  • This was a very good and timely opinion piece. I agree that adults should be emotionally mature enough to debate policies and then to break bread afterward. Here’s my take:

    I reluctantly voted for HRC but I hopeful that the Trump got it right. No matter your political allegiance, it should be apparent that our political system is in desperate need of a massive enema. There were only two candidates completely independent of the near constant re-election fundraising and related quid pro quo corruption that plagues our current political class. Those candidates were Sanders and Trump. Ironically, Sanders would have trounced Trump but for the wholly corrupt Democratic National Committee (DNC) rigging the primary system to favor Hilary Clinton. (And let’s not forget that HRC had the unmitigated gall to hire DNC Chair Debbie Wassermann to her campaign just days after Wassermann resigned from the DNC because leaked emails outed her for manipulating the Democratic primary process to favor HRC. Talk about tone-deaf!)

    I believe many voters tired of the same old empty pandering by the DNC and RNC hope Trump is a political Molotov Cocktail. If (and I agree it’s a big IF) Trump somehow manages to run roughshod over both political parties to enact policies/laws for the benefit middle and lower class America, and against the interests of the parties’ current financial enablers, he will not only spur a massive reboot of the GOP and Democratic parties, he will go down as the most important President of the modern era. Buckle-up buckaroos!

  • “Protecting my 13-year-old girl and teaching my boys to respect women…” – Excuse me, but there will be times when it’ll be the other way around. Nothing is a gender issue anymore, sweetie. Take it from a mom who’s been there and back. My son has had his face slapped more than once by girls and women for no reason other than that they felt they could get away with it simply because they’re women. You don’t know the rage that builds up inside a boy who tries so hard to be politice and respectful, only to be victimized by those who think they have a right. My son is also a proficient kickboxer. I taught him everything he knows and he has my unwavering permission to pulverize anyone who attacks him, girls and women included. Respect them when they’re boys and they’ll respect you when they’re men.

    “My family is a mixture of races and religions, as are my friends.” – Hey, do us a favor and next time you’re together with your white friends, tell them to stop claiming to be part Native-American. If relations between European settlers and Native-Americans were that good, how did Native-Americans end up on reservations and living in such dismal conditions?

    “We may not like what each other has to say…” – The problem is that both sides have come to hate each other so much that the world wouldn’t be surprised if you had another civil war. I’ll go along with the blue state secession idea. Beats prolonging a bad marriage. I’m from the west coast and I’d still like to be able to come home to Portland and visit my mom, who has less than a year to live. Deal?