It's fair to say that Donald Trump is quite unlike any other candidate for U.S. president in modern times, which led me to a thought experiment on how I should feel — personally — about people I know who support him.
And I want to be clear on something: this isn't about "politics." It's about human rights and the choices we each make based on our individual and collective consciences, when given the rare opportunity to do so. So for purposes of this thought experiment, I will focus on the one aspect of Trump's persona that most terrifies and saddens me personally.
For the first time perhaps ever, we have a candidate for president in this country who openly courts white supremacists and neo-Nazis. I don't think Trump actually believes a lot of what he says, but that doesn't matter. The fact is he is willing to say, do or re-tweet almost anything to keep people angry and afraid, and he continues to wink and nod at skinheads, much to their delight. Again, whether he actually believes what he's saying and re-tweeting is immaterial, because the impact is the same.
He has directly and routinely maligned women and almost every nonwhite and ethnic group imaginable, including me, a Jewish woman. I don't know how else to say this, but I feel uniquely betrayed by people who know me personally and/or professionally and who support this man for president.
I have friends and colleagues along the entire political spectrum, people I have worked with and who know me as a friend. We have good relationships. I know they like and respect me. So the fact that some of them openly and publicly endorse someone who (among other things) has said women should be treated "like s***" and aligns himself with "race realists" whose ancestors massacred my family in recent memory — and would happily do it again if given the chance — makes me sick to my stomach and incredibly sad. (The fact that some of these people are Jews and/or women themselves is a whole other kettle of fish).
Do I think Trump is really the "next Hitler?" Not really, but that's irrelevant. My point is, it feels like a profound and personal betrayal to discover that people I know, like and respect — and whom I know for a fact also like and respect me — want a man at the helm of this country who literally advocates treating me "like s***" and courts entire voting blocs who want me and my family dead.
It feels awful to know that when it comes right down to it, people I consider friends would choose that fate — real or imagined — for me. That, whether they mean to or not, they are effectively telling me and everyone else "like me" to drop dead.
It feels unforgivable. Is it? What do I do with this knowledge? Is it fair to feel this way about these folks? They've held my children, shared meals with me, worked with me and relied on my intellect. I honestly don't have the answers to these questions. But I hope they read this, and take a moment to truly reflect on themselves.
This is a unique candidate, and I believe he merits a unique and maybe unprecedented level of conscious introspection.
Libby Bakalar is a Juneau freelance writer and attorney. She's the author of the blog One Hot Mess, where this commentary first appeared.
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