Updated: Jan 7
(Continued from The Distance Between Us- Part One)
“So tell me”, she said, in between the laughter, “Because I know you’re dying too. Why don’t you like Donald Trump?”
“I thought you’d never ask”, I said with a grin. “Nations require leaders; Leaders with humanity and fortitude; Leaders with self-control, prudence and intellect; Leaders who can empathize with the people they govern and who respect the laws of the land. Donald Trump was a chaos candidate and he has been a chaos president. He sows division and discord the likes of which we have not experienced in modern American history”.
“A lot of that is the media harping on every little thing”, she said.
“Maybe, but a lot of that is him giving the media SO MANY things to harp on. And since you brought up the media, his cruelty to women journalists, especially women journalist of color is especially troubling to me. His language is abusive and demeaning. He calls them stupid and questions their ability and acumen whenever they ask him a hard question. He referred to Kamala Harris as a “Monster”, in a debate where she smiled so much I wondered if she was going for a Ms. Congeniality title. But apparently she remembered something that I forgot. Women, especially African American women, must appear non threatening to their male counterparts lest they fall victim to being mischaracterized. Well, Trump mischaracterized her anyway. He is a misogynist dullard, and that is not a character trait I want in a leader”, I said.
“Trump speaks his mind…he’s temperamental”, she said.
“It’s deeper than that and you know it”, I said. “When Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who had received a purple heart for outstanding service to our nation testified TRUTHFULLY in the impeachment hearing, Donald Trump retaliated by vindictively sabotaging his career. But why should I be surprised when our so-called Commander and Chief skipped out on sacrificing for his country and then demeaned those who have sacrificed by referring to them as ‘Suckers’ and ‘Losers’ “.
She knew she couldn’t defend it so I continued.
I talked about how our democracy and our election process is the cornerstone of our nation and how Trump had worked ad nauseam to undermine and corrupt it. He consistently spread lies and fears about the sanctity of mail-in votes. In the United States of America we have a 0.00006 percent occurrence of voter fraud. Yet this president routinely cast aspersion on the process in an effort to distract from his failing poll numbers and the growing national disdain for his administration.
Trump appointed a postmaster general who worked to cripple our postal service insuring American voters would have a hard time with their mail in ballots. Trump worked with republican governors to suppress the vote in states like Ohio, Georgia, North Dakota, Kansas, Texas and Alabama by vastly reducing polling places and cutting back on early voting in communities of color and urban areas. Donald Trump and the republican party did this so American citizens who were more likely to vote democrat would have to wait in line up to 3-11 hours to cast their vote; even going so far as to recruit Neo Nazi militia to intimidate voters on Election Day.
“Democrats want to teach gender fluidity and codify LGBT ideology to kindergartners, she asserted, Imposing a sexual agenda on five-year olds in their formative years is a bit more sinister than adults waiting in line to vote for a few hours”.
“And republicans are okay with taking innocent children away from their parents, sometimes as young as 4 months old, and exposing them to irreparable psychological and emotional trauma”, I countered.
“Yeah, I guess both parties have their skeletons”, she conceded.
“Please don’t equivocate”. I retorted. “One thing is not the same as the other. The bill that you are referring to is called the Equality Act, and it was bipartisan. Besides it was never passed in congress. The children who were separated from their parents at the border may never recover from what this government has done to them”.
“Now you are the one who needs to get their facts straight”, she declared. “The Obama administration did the same thing when he was in office”.
“No he didn’t”, I snapped. “The Obama administration separated migrant children from families under certain limited circumstances, like when the child’s safety appeared at risk or when the parent had a serious criminal history. The Trump Administration did it to EVERY SINGLE FAMILY as a point of policy.
We were about to go at it again and I really didn’t want to. It was clear that neither of us was going to change the others mind. So I said, “Look, I will give Trump this, he seems to want American businesses to bring their production back to America, and I agree with that”.
“I know you do”, she confirmed. “You’ve always championed the American worker. I think if you could get past Trump's personality and just look at his policies you’d see the value he brought to this nation”.
“Value?” I questioned. “Over two hundred and thirty thousand Americans have died. Businesses are closing. Families are struggling to make ends meet. Kids are not learning at their full capabilities because school has now been replaced with Zoom Meetings. This presidents Covid 19 response has been piss poor and pathetic”.
“No one could have predicted this virus”, she refuted. “He stopped all entrance to the United States from China, what more could he have done?”
So I listed one by one the grotesque failures of this administration regarding the virus and the catastrophic consequences that followed.
-Trump removed the Pandemic Task Force the Obama Administration put in place to formulate our national response to a deadly global virus.
-Trump underplayed the health risks of the virus by initially referring to it as a “democratic hoax”. When he in fact knew all along how dangerous this virus is and he was caught on tape saying as much.
-Trump has repeatedly lied to the American people about the virus stating it would “just disappear” or that we were “weeks away from a cure” or that “we were rounding the turn”. He did this as the American infection and death rate grew.
-Trump politicized masks by saying that people who wear them don’t like him. As if wanting to protect your life and the lives of your family and community is anything but decent and wise.
-Trump incited hate against the Governor of Michigan for trying to protect the residents of her state; which led to a kidnap/murder plot against her from his devout followers.
-Trump bashed health organizations and doctors who tried to inform the American people of known health risks.
-Trump no longer bothers to participate in Task Force meetings regarding the Corona Virus. Much like a bored teenage boy, he has walked away from a challenge too far out of his depth to handle.
It was unheard of! United State governors should never have to go outside of our country for aid. They needed the assistance of the federal government through the Defense Production Act and the Trump Administration left American Governors and the American people high and dry.
Trump disregarded medical and scientific advice by hosting a mask-less super spreader event at the White House infecting himself, his family, members of our legislative branch and White House staff, which at the time posed a national security risk.
In fact The New England Medical Journal which hasn’t weighed in on a presidential election or candidate in their 208 year history felt compelled to come out with the following statement:
“With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test.
They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy. Our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs”.
We looked at each other, she was tired and so was I.
We didn’t agree and we couldn’t get past it and it was getting late.
“How’s church?” She asked.
I could tell she was trying to find a better note to end on. I was a Christian and she was not, she never bought into the whole God stuff…but my beliefs were another place where our politics would sometimes intersect.
“I do a bible study and prayer group over Zoom” I responded.
“Are most of your Christian friends voting for Trump?” she questioned.
“No” I replied.
Being a Christian of color had always proved to be a bit of a tight rope walk in American society. It made you innately familiar with the struggle of Christ, outcast and undervalued in your own faith, while constantly up against pharisaical ideology, which in our case was a far right White evangelical voting bloc who had conveniently turned a blind eye to the murder of compliant innocent African Americans by renegade police officers, Trump’s mounting corruption cases and every other moral failure of Donald Trump, from his divisiveness to his cruelty of others.
They instead chose to cloak their support of Trump in the saving of unborn lives, which apparently didn’t include Black lives outside of the womb, or the 514 migrant children displaced by the malevolent policies of this administration. It was the purest display of hypocrisy I had ever seen. The word of God says, “You will know them by their fruits”.
Meaning, we would know the followers of Christ by their character and the manifestation of their actions. The fruits of a Christ-like spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Even Trump’s staunchest Christian supporters wouldn’t use any of those virtues to describe him. Yet a majority of far right evangelicals championed him nonetheless.
They set him up as an idol, and they did it knowing that Donald Trump does NOT know the Lord. In a nationally televised interview, when asked, Donald Trump freely admitted that he has never asked Christ for forgiveness and in fact does not think he needs it. Humbling yourself before Christ, and confessing your sins is the foundational belief of Christianity! This meant that instead of ministering the gospel to him to edify and lead him to Christ, the far right evangelicals who surrounded him set aside what they know to be true to embrace a lie. They allowed him to stand in front of a holy place, holding an upside-down bible mocking the things of God. They had chosen deceit over righteousness.
But I couldn’t do it. If anything, my faith, informed the reasons I could never vote for Donald Trump.
“There are 6 things, no 7 the Lord hates: Haughtiness, Lying, Murdering, Plotting evil, Eagerness to do wrong, A false witness and sowing discord amongst the brethren”.
I knew that would be too long a discussion to have so I just said, “I’m glad we hooked up today, it was good to see you my friend. It’s getting late we better head out”.
She nodded in agreement and then said, “Don’t think I didn’t notice that all you told me was what you didn’t like about Trump, but you never bothered telling me what you like about Biden. You don’t love Biden. All you are is a Never-Trumper”.
She was wrong. Although Joe Biden wasn't my choice in the primary, I had a healthy respect for him. I had seen Joe Biden lose his eldest son, after losing his wife and two children years prior. I saw how that tragedy refined his heart and increased his capacity for empathy. I knew that God had used his pain to fashion him for purpose. I heard the stories and had seen the videos of Joe Biden on the campaign trail when a young boy with special needs ran up to him and how Joe Biden brought that kid into a huge embrace and showered him with love, honor and respect. I listened to the testimonies of his family, friends and those who had worked with him in congress FOR YEARS. He was equally liked and respected across the aisle. Joe Biden is a moderate who understands that government works best when ALL sides are involved in the discussion. He came from an era where men of good will and character reached across the aisle to accomplish remarkable things. And it was exactly that legacy that I hoped he would bring back to politics for such a time as this.
But I was tired and had soap-boxed enough, so I said “I don’t have to love Biden. I’m a grown-up, not a teenager looking for a crush. I can answer your question in two sentences. Biden is a leader with empathy, character, decency and respect for the laws of this country and its citizenry. And I earnestly agree with Joe Biden on most policy issues, that is why I am voting for him. And..yeah, because he’s not Trump”.
“You’re gonna lose”, she giggled. “The silent majority is gonna rise up and elect Trump again”.
“Nope!”, I retorted. “Biden is going to win in a landmark, groundbreaking, landslide victory, that will not only serve as a repudiation of Donald Trump, but will begin a new chapter in the America we want to live in.
“I’ll bet you dinner”, she responded.
“It’s a deal”, I laughed.
The sun had set, and we walked to our cars realizing we had talked in the park for hours. I felt light. And not just because I knew our national nightmare was soon coming to an end but because I got my friend back and in just a few days she would be buying me dinner. I hope the restaurant serves CROW.