So you voted for Trump. I know we haven’t spoken in a while, but I’ve been thinking a lot about you. In the last two weeks, for instance, I have read all of the think pieces about you. I listened to all the podcasts. All of them! Oh, you’re right… I didn’t listen to ALL of them. But A LOT. Thanks for keeping me honest, buddy. Some of you were the working class, but some of you were college educated people. Some of you were women! Maybe you thought it was time for a change — two terms of any party typically results in a turnover to a different party. The surrogates say, you took him “seriously but not literally.” Great line, by the way. I feel I should point out that “literally” is one of the most misused words in the English language. And in common parlance, literally has evolved to mean the opposite of literally. I digress, but this used to be the kind of thing that you and I would get a kick out of before we started talking (not to each other, I might add) exclusively about politics.
So I was surprised, to put it mildly, that you had such strong feelings for him. I knew you liked him, but I didn’t think you liked him liked him. I didn’t think you were going to marry him. But let’s move past that, if we can. I will admit that it is hard for me to move past it, but I’m trying. I’m not sure it will ever become normal for me to see you with him; I’m not sure I want it to become normal. For the moment, we can agree to disagree about your decision. You and I will both get to reassess our decisions in four years, which seems long, but is sooner than you think. We are blessed that we live in a democracy, with a constitution that specifies regularly scheduled elections. Sometimes, I really love this country.
The reason I’m writing you today is because I know some of you are my readers. I know this because I’ve met you on the road. Gosh, I went everywhere with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I was in many of the states that Trump won, and you were all lovely to me. My point is, statistically speaking, some of you were Trump voters. But we shared values—I know we did!—we believed in bookstores, in reading and the value of empathy, in the importance of early childhood education, in the importance of adoption, in the need for communities to protect their most vulnerable members and to look out for one another. We discussed how we all believed in those things. We had some great discussions, you and I.
Sometimes, you were surprised when you figured out A.J. Fikry was a mixed race character, and you asked me questions about that. Sometimes, you were even surprised when you met me! Because I don’t look like a white person. To put a political spin on it, I look somewhere between Barack Obama and Melania Trump. For the record, I am the daughter of an immigrant from Korea. I am the daughter of a Jewish man whose mother was a school teacher and whose father worked at the Stanley Works factory. I have been mistaken for EVERY race. My joke is that everywhere I go, no one ever knows where I’m from, but they’re sure I’m not from there. I guarantee that my passport is studied longer than yours when I travel. LOL. (But it isn’t really funny!) (But no one uses LOL for things that are actually funny, so it’s fine.) My whole life, people have said, “Hey, are you from America?” and “Do you speak English?” And yes, I was born here and I speak English (and even write it) arguably well. But again, that’s a story for a different day. We’re talking about You.
So you voted for Trump. I guess the reason I’m writing you today is because I want to remind you that you don’t have to agree with everything he says and everything he does. I wanted to remind you that the fact of your vote doesn’t exclude you from participating in protest against Trump when you find areas in which you disagree. Maybe you don’t like his appointments, for instance. Oy. Or maybe you want to participate in the Women’s March on Washington—because you want to remind the president-elect that women’s rights are STILL important to you and that women’s rights are not an issue unique to one party or even one ethos. Or maybe you are troubled by the idea of registering citizens based on religion. Or maybe you want to know more about the conflicts in the President-elect’s business dealings. Also, I wanted to point out to you that although I twice voted for President Barack Obama, I have not agreed with him in every decision he has made in office either. I don’t think President Obama would even expect me to always agree with him. As citizens, we are meant to question our elected officials and to let them know when we disagree. Our county is tough. It can withstand and be improved by our dissent. But you already know this.
Now, I know it’s just a pundit’s line—how you took him “seriously, but not literally.” But it’s a good line, a sticky line, and it has been troubling me. I think once a person has been elected president, it’s only good manners to take them both literally and seriously. The President-Elect has seriously and literally nominated and allied himself with bigots, climate change deniers, and hate-mongers. I know you. And I can’t believe you would approve of that.
Let’s keep in touch,