You voted Trump. I did not. Let’s talk.


See Disclaimer.

Dear Trump voter:

We chose differently last November. Perhaps you now regret your vote, perhaps not. I am interested in a dialogue, either way.

Let me introduce myself. I am an independent voter. I did not vote for Mr. Trump. Once he got elected, I did not feel that we collectively made a good choice. For several months, though, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I listened more than I spoke. I questioned more than I affirmed. Every President deserves a grace period, in due respect to our democratic process. We all would have benefitted from Republicans giving Obama such benefit of the doubt early in his mandate, just to mention an obvious recent example.

But we are now past the 8-month mark of Mr. Trump’s presidency. I must share with you that I feel increasingly that you made a disastrous choice. I fear that deep, perhaps even permanent, damage has been done to this country and the world. But then, I still have hope. Not so much on this presidency, I am afraid. But on the American people. You and me. Blue, red, or otherwise. Native American, white, black, Latino, Asian or something else.

Humanity is not perfect. We are also not meant to agree with each other all the time. Different ideas are a key to progress. Frank and open debate helps us as a society, as it helps scientists like me advance the boundaries of knowledge and technology. But sometime during the George W. Bush presidency (or was it even before?), we began a slow process of entrenchment, where most of us chose either red or blue, and most of the rest of us withdrew into a “this is not my fault” state of mind that we label independent or small party.

My hope rides on enough of us exiting our silos, and start talking constructively about what we share and where we differ. Thus, this letter. There will be others, to other silo holders. But you, Trump voters, are a key group. Your 2016 candidate is President. I suspect that you either love it, or regret it, with no many in-between views. I also suspect that you know that not many others will support your candidate come 2020, short of an unexpected turn of events. Hence, again, you are a key group.

If you have buyer’s remorse, please speak up. To the President and his team. To the Republican leadership. To your fellow Trump voters, those with and those without regrets. But also to the non-Trump voters. And to the Democratic leadership. Or others with non-conventional political models in mind, such as the Centrist Project. Please explain why you chose Mr. Trump, be clear on why you no longer support him, and be direct on what you expect of candidates for both Congress and US President for them to earn your vote moving forward. Be thoughtful and considerate, research your data sources, avoid one-liners.

If you continue to support Mr. Trump, please also speak up. Consider taking any meaningful issue where you believe the President is right. Health Care? Immigration? Climate change? Financial deregulation? Environmental deregulation? Trade agreements? North Korea? For that issue, please make the argument on why you, your neighbors, the country as a whole, and the world at large are benefitting from the President’s vision and actions. Do research your data, don’t be defensive and enter in dialogue with people who are not like minded. Prove wrong those who believe you are easily swayed by fabricated data, or that you are driven by hatred or ignorance. Help all of us understand what truly concerns and drives you.

To be clear, I do realize that some who voted for Mr. Trump are not interested in dialogue. Their positions are hardened and intolerant, in some cases dangerously so. They cross lines that are impossible to accept, neo-Nazism and white supremacism topping that list. Please know that, in my eyes, those fringes are unacceptable but they are not synonymous of Trump voters. They don’t define most of you, and they will not succeed in biasing me against listening to you with an open mind.

I don’t know where dialogue might lead us. But I do know where lack of dialogue has taken us: To a divided country, a drastically diminished faith in the American Dream, and an increasingly unwieldy and unsustainable world. Not a place where I and (I suspect) you want to be. Let’s walk out of it together.

— Antonio Baptista

Correction: Since this post was originally written, the Centrist Project evolved into UniteAmerica.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s