To the Guy Who Insisted I Vote for Trump

“I highly recommend you vote for Trump” the words had dropped on us out of nowhere. I was walking to class with a friend, and we had stopped to say hello to a groundskeeper. He was a nice old guy who would always be kind to the students. Even when he caught us smoking on school grounds, he was very nice about it and merely told us to move across the street away from the school property—nice old man. And there, sitting on his lawnmower, he casually looked in my eyes and began listing all of the reasons why Trump should be elected and how he was going to “drain the swamp” and was using his own funds and couldn’t be bought by anyone else.

He was not unique. Many people that I looked up to and considered bright and compassionate were adamant about Trump. But for some reason, that conversation with him specifically stood out. And when Trump said racist things, did a travel ban, began heavy deregulation, began fighting to remove federal protection of land and wildlife, I thought of him. With every inflaming tweet, terrible crime, allegation of sexual assault, blatant sexism, and fueling of extremism, I thought of that guy. When the capital was stormed, I wondered where he stood on that. In my imagination, he began to cry. The tears began as the images flooded the airwaves –an insurrection, a deadly attack led by violent extremists. Between sobs he began saying, “I’m sorry, I was completely wrong. I surely thought there would be a line drawn a warning sign that couldn’t be crossed…”

I will no longer think of him. I will no longer think of how I merely nodded along that day and tried my best to not be confrontational. Like all the other times with the many people, I worked with, went to university with, grew up with–my silence, a peace offering to remain amicable. I will no longer think of them. I will no longer carry any guilt of simply being brown—of being the son of illegal immigrants. For a long time, I convinced myself and everyone around me that my parents did it the right way. That we respected the law, were honest, worked hard, and we weren’t like those other bad immigrants. I will no longer beg for forgiveness. Beg for acceptance. I will not bow my head avert my eyes and reply meekly as anyone interrogates my right to be in any space. I will not shudder and quickly explain myself as a fellow veteran barks at me, “you checking out that alarm system? Is that alarm system good enough for you?” His eyes and words implying that I was trying to steal a car when I was only trying to help a woman in distress over a dog in that car. I will no longer be silent. I will be brave. And I will be beautiful.

14 thoughts on “To the Guy Who Insisted I Vote for Trump

  1. I have thought of these people too. I wonder what they think now but I don’t want to bring it up. I don’t want to go there. I will imagine, like you, that tears and regret stain their faces.

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  2. Your story tracks a journey many are taking, from silence so as not to give offense to standing up for your rights and the rights of people like yourself, to no longer begging for acceptance. You are brave and beatiful, and I support and applaud your strength. I hope “that guy” learned the right lesson from the attack of January 6.

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  3. I love the optimism of this imagining, ‘Between sobs he began saying, “I’m sorry, I was completely wrong…’ For me, it has been both frightening and incomprehensible how most people that voted for Trump became even more adamantly pro-Trump through the years; it is particularly stunning how many believe that this past election was fraudulent. Love your concluding words – “I will no longer be silent. I will be brave. And I will be beautiful.” Thank you for this slice!

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    • Thank you for your comment! Yea I have had such a tough time accepting how people continually double down. Many people are obsessed with not being wrong so instead of changing they entrench themselves. Baffling.

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  4. I’m never quite sure what to say to POC who choose silence over speaking out because as a white woman I know my privilege makes it easier for me to respond to racists and Trump apologists. It’s white people who remain silent and pretend they care about equity and social justice who chafe my backside. I know POC can’t make this journey alone, and you must do what you must to be safe.

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  5. This is a powerful post, Jonathan. I wish you didn’t have the experience to write it, but here we are.

    I remember when I learned about the condition of cognitive dissonance, and now it’s everywhere I’ve looked over the last few years. I hope you’re truly able to leave that guy in the past.

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  6. Your post resonates with me in so many ways. Sometimes I think I’m shocked into silence when people say things to me that are ignorant or hateful. Your words are a powerful reminder to keep my wits about me, to stand on my two feet and engage. And you’re right – many folks, in another context, are bright and compassionate and good. I keep hoping I can find a way to acknowledge that higher selfhood while still letting people know that words and actions are important.

    Thank you for giving me so much to think about.

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    • Thank you for your comment. While I do say I will do a lot of things in this piece it is interesting how will I navigate these feelings as a public educator and likely enrolling in a graduate program. I will always stand for truth and justice but those things seem so subjective at times. There is a lot to think about.

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  7. As a person who has family that openly supports the former President (if you can really call him that) it did bother me. But like you (in the beginning) I remained silent. I didn’t want to stir up a fight. But as I watched the past four years unfold I began speaking up. Did it make a difference? Not really. They are very stubborn and set in their ways. But at least I spoke up.

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    • “Did it make a difference? Not really” – I love that unfortunately, it seems that many will only entrench even more. I was listening to a podcast that broke down that when faced with overwhelming information disproving certain views people double down. Thanks for your comment.

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