When my husband and I talked about starting a family, ample consideration was given to the political climate of the nation. We talked about the ever-changing marriage landscape, the many and varied adoption laws governing states, and the hearts and minds of neighbors across our beautiful Garden State. We feared that our child would be treated differently and disparately because of who his fathers were.
As a Disney family, we can see that we’ve Gepetto’d our dreams into a real live boy, our Pinnochio a hazel-eyed blonde named Gabriel. And now that our family is whole, those fears are coming back big time. And the reason for that?
I have long been a student of the political process, fascinated with the goings-on in Washington since one very attractive U.S. History teacher taught a high-school-aged Anthony how to care about the world, in the shadow of the Bush v. Gore disaster that led to the appointment of a President by the Supreme Court. As it so captivated a nation, my eyes were wide with amazement as we lived history.
I grew up in a very red town, in a very red county, in the very blue state of New York. I heard the racist murmurings of my neighbors when “one of them” would walk into our grocery store. Who these “Other” people were could be defined differently at any given moment. It could be a black woman, a Hispanic man, a white family on vacation, but clearly not from our town. “Others” belonged in a different category, a separate and unequal box where outsiders belonged, and remained. This wasn’t the way most people in my hometown viewed people, but there were enough whispers to be audible; it was understood that being different was the thing you’d like least to be.
Gay? Probably the last thing on the list you’d choose, and it was very much seen as a choice. But still, you lived quite aside, and apart.
I have felt like the “Other” at many different times in my life, and it is incredibly, sorrowfully lonely in that box. In that box, you are isolated, and less than, and different, and not good enough. It is dark and bleak in there, and for some people there is never an escape; our society perpetuates the lie that it is easy to get out of the box if we simply act and behave more like everyone else. But some of us can’t change the color of our skin, the God we do or do not believe in, or who we love. And some of us wouldn’t change it if we could.
Cue the Donald. Some people saw it coming, a nation fractured by an obstructionist Congress hell-bent on denying the legitimacy of our nation’s first black President, ripe for the taking by one who could speak to the hatred itself, the fear and the loathing both immutably personified in the flesh. A self-appointed hero who climbed down from his golden Tower to restore black and white truth to a land rendered far too colorful, to make us great again. His announcement rhetoric, branding Mexicans as rapists, a provocation and blight on a history of Mexican-American relations forged over decades, and spitting in the face of harder working men and women than Donald J. Trump could ever hope to be.
And some of us did not see it coming. Some of us watched, mouths agape, as one epithet after another snaked their venomous and incendiary ways into the hearts of one group after another, pushing more and more of our friends, family members, neighbors into the “Other” box. We refused to believe that our neighbors could line up behind Trump, that in 2016 his candidacy was akin to the public fascination with the Kardashians. Say what you will about one overexposed celebrity family in Beverly Hills, but I don’t ever recall Kim saying that she would ban all Muslims from entering the country, or Kourtney saying she would invalidate the marriages of gays and lesbians across the United States.
But his candidacy did not fade, each racist and xenophobic statement serving to poison the well of public discourse further and further, moderate Republicans with whom it is entirely capable to have policy discussions and find common ground driven from the dialogue by the louder and loudest voice in the room, and an eager media salivating for the next piece of meat to be thrown from the lion to the pack.
Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America, he is the standard bearer, the lens through which we are expected to see our Republican neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. And that is not funny, not at all. It’s not entertaining. He has played on the worst among us, and inside of us. And out of us, he’s captured votes, and a platform, and attention; in May of 2016, there is a very real problem if I can’t tell which of the three aforementioned victories he prizes most.
Trump is a voice for all that is whispered in grocery stores, for faceless graffiti scrawled in red marker on the doors of young gay men, for hatred and bigotry long pushed to the periphery to come roaring back. For everyone who has heard someone say aloud, “They should just speak English” or “We’re losing all our jobs to those people”, I urge you to realize something. This is how it begins.
His lightning rod candidacy is bringing out the whispers again, in tiny villages and towns and cities and states, only now the whisperers feel a claim can be staked for an escalation in volume. If the flag-bearer gets to say terrible things and win, then it’s okay, it’s right.
Trump's rhetoric is toxic, and speaks to the very worst human need to be on the top at the expense of those on the bottom. Trump is the validation of racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic inclinations spoken aloud, cheered. Those not in agreement are brutalized and cast aside, made to exemplify the hurdle over which the restoration of Greatness must jump.
The devastation of hatred left unchecked litters itself across our historical landscape, it cries out from our textbooks and diaries and records collected over time and screams for us to remember it, and to commit ourselves wholly to halting its resurrection at every moment where we are given power. This election is about making America great again, but doing so doesn’t require us to push people away, aside, and out. To prophesy the return of greatness doesn’t demand that we force our hands into fists, but rather begs us to return to a community of open arms.
Donald Trump is a threat to my family, immediately. Dom and I are finalizing our adoption this Spring/Summer. We are married, and we fought for and earned our marriage moreso than anyone I know personally; this isn’t braggadocious, it is the testament of a battle-scarred New Jerseyan who has survived the scourge of Chris Christie’s gubernatorial failures and come out on the other side with a wedding ring and a baby and doesn’t plan on going back. Your vote for Donald Trump is a vote against my family, against my husband, against my son.
I am urging you, my friends, my family, my neighbors, readers of this site to look inside of yourselves. Your vote for Donald Trump is a vote to have my son removed from our home, to invalidate my marriage. You cannot vote for Trump the way Catholics attend mass, selectively choosing which parts you like and which you don’t. Your vote for Donald Trump is a vote for every part of what he is, of what we have allowed him to become, it is a ringing endorsement of everything that he has said, and a tacit approval of everything he wants to do, not just pieces.
Donald Trump has promised to repeal Obamacare, eliminate gun-free zones in schools, ban Muslim immigration, deport Spanish speakers, kill the families of terrorists, and punish women for having abortions. National security experts rank a Trump presidency as a higher risk to American security than ISIS. There is only one choice here, and it is to vote against hatred, not just because we can, but because we must.
Donald Trump cannot be allowed to become the President of the United States; it is our responsibility to stop him. This is our shared obligation as a nation, red and blue, because our past is filled with well-meaning individuals who sat silently with mouths agape while monsters snatched power from the hands of those who could never have it.
There’s a villain in every story, and in “Pinocchio”, the villain was Stromboli, an evil puppeteer whose ambition was to make money at the expense of others. When Pinocchio seeks freedom, Stromboli says, “Quiet! Shut up! Before I knock you silly…” A man pulling the strings of others to further his own ambition, threatening physical violence against those who disagree.
Trump has neutered the Republican establishment and marginalized all past living Republican Presidents and Presidential nominees. He has used fear-mongering and race-baiting to defeat 16 candidates this year. He is winning.
There is now only one person standing between Donald Trump and the Presidency of the United States of America. So what will you do to stop him?
Register to vote, commit to voting Democrat, and let November be recorded in history as the moment where we did make America great again, by embracing the spirit of inclusion and unity that made us great in the first place.
And then maybe we can all live happily ever after, after all.