OPINION COLUMNS

We the people: Trump can’t save America, but we can

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, November 12, 2016
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I’ve spent the days since the presidential election wondering what I could possibly say in this column that would matter to anyone who read it.

I know where I live. Texas is a red state, has been as long as I can remember, and while I’ve often felt frustrated with my overly-zealous Republican neighbors, I have never felt frightened of the people they elect. Until now.

I did not vote for Donald Trump. I marked my ballot for Hillary Clinton, which actually puts me in the very slight majority of the popular vote, but unfortunately the losing side of the electoral college.

Racey Burden

Racey Burden

I realize if you’re reading this, it is very likely you voted for Trump. Wise County is red, red, red. I didn’t expect it to change for this election, and I knew many people I care about would vote for a man I loathe. I knew it. It still hurt to see it be true.

I know my red, red neighbors don’t understand the visceral, emotional reaction to this election from the opposing side. Please allow me to explain it as I see it.

It didn’t hurt because Trump is a Republican and I voted Democrat. There were Republicans running in the primary that I thought had potential to be good candidates, even if I didn’t see myself voting for them on Nov. 8. I voted for a few Republicans down-ballot and in all the local races. I voted for the people I believed would do the best job, on every level.

It didn’t hurt because I’m a die-hard Clinton fan. I didn’t vote for her in the primary. I thought she was by far the best presidential option in the final round, but she was never my first choice.

Why does it hurt? It hurts because nothing about the America Trump purports to make great again is an America I want to live in.

Trump has said racist things repeatedly. He said he wanted to ban an entire religious group from entering our country. He’s normalized sexual assault. He has incited a movement of the angry, white crowd, and it worked. He got himself endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. What an honor.

I don’t respect him. I can’t. I’m a woman, and he talks about women as if we only exist for his sexual gain. I’m a journalist, and if he really “opens up libel laws” my job will become so much more difficult (a column for another day).

I’m not a person of color, nor do I identify as LGBTQ, but I have friends who belong to one or both groups. My heart aches for them far worse than it does for myself. I don’t speak for people in those groups – and I know some did vote Trump – but I can tell you those I’m friends with are afraid about what this election means for them.

You are entitled to your opinion and your vote. I doubt I could have changed either. I don’t think reading about my anger aimed at your candidate will bring about change. You likely already know of everything Trump has said that would have cost a normal politician this election, if it were a normal election, if he were a normal politician. You chose him anyway.

And you did choose him. Don’t tell me you didn’t vote for Trump, just against Hillary. I know many of you don’t actually like him, you just dislike Clinton more. But that’s not how voting works – no one checked an “against Clinton” or “against Trump” box. You pick a candidate. That’s the candidate you voted for, even if you don’t agree with everything they say and do. Your vote goes to them.

So this is what I ask of my neighbors in this red, red county who voted Trump. I’ve listened to you justify your votes the past few days. I know many of you have felt abandoned by the establishment politicians in both parties. I can’t say I disagree with you there. Rural areas are neglected by Republicans and Democrats.

You’re not the only ones who hurt, though. There are many marginalized groups in this country, and you may not understand their lives but they matter just as much as ours here in rural Texas do. These people don’t protest Trump because they’re whiny, they protest Trump because his words and actions have brought out a hatred that threatens their lives. He didn’t create this hatred. It’s always been there. But he fanned the flames.

You’re afraid of increased taxes; they’re afraid of increased hate crimes.

Maybe you voted for Trump because you prioritize national security, and you think he’ll make us safer. I hope you’re right on that. Thus far I fear he’s made life more dangerous for every marginalized group in this country.

I don’t believe everyone who voted Trump is racist or sexist. I’m not that naive. I know many people just wanted to overthrow the establishment, and he was, to them, the best shot. I know you’ll say, “He’s going to change politics!” Not one of you would say “I’m a racist!” or “I think it’s OK to grope women!” so I ask you to stand against Trump when he says things that are racist, when he objectifies women. It’s not OK. Tell him it’s not. Tell him you don’t want your children to be a bully when he’s being one. He’s setting an example for young people, and so far it hasn’t been a good one. Don’t validate his dangerous words and actions.

You believe your religion has been mocked? Then you should stand up for other religions when they’re threatened by Trump’s harmful rhetoric. This country is supposed to believe in religious liberty for all people.

You think your voice hasn’t been heard? Well now it has. We all heard it. Those of us who voted for the other side have admittedly been guilty of smugness, a sense of elitism and surety that we would win this. We didn’t. So now I have to ask – will you fight for those who are still silenced? You’re the party with the power now. The red leaders listen to the red voters.

Please remember that we all have to live here. Telling me, or anyone else, that if we don’t like Trump we can just leave is not only ridiculously impossible, but also hypocritical. No one who says that liked Obama. None of them left the past eight years and returned in triumphant glory to vote for Trump. We go through a cycle in the U.S. two-party system, and we all have to live with four to eight years of someone we didn’t vote for running our country. I’ll live with this, even though I didn’t want it. I’m not leaving because you want me to, because you disagree with me. That goes against the whole basis of freedom to choose on which this country was founded. I’m going to stay and fight for what I believe in.

Don’t call those who disagree with you names on the Messenger Facebook page either. This one goes to everyone on both sides. We’re so tired of it, y’all. We aren’t here to facilitate your fights. We’re here to give you the news as best we can in an environment that has made it increasingly clear we’re hated for our line of work.

I hope Trump proves to be a better president than I expect he will be. I don’t respect him, but to wish him to fail is to wish this country to fail. I might feel disappointed in the U.S. right now, but I live here. I have a stake in what happens. I want us to be better.

Government can’t save us. That’s what my mother told me when she was trying to comfort me about this mess we’ve launched ourselves into. She’s right. I never expected Clinton to save us. I know Trump won’t do any better.

But government can hurt us. Trump’s campaign rhetoric alone has hurt people. I appeal to the Christian side of this county, because I know that you’re the majority. We’re the majority. Jesus commanded us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). He told us that our neighbors included everyone, not just those like us (see Luke 10 and the parable of the Good Samaritan). We need to remember that now more than ever, to love more than ever. The people who feel like this vote invalidates their identity as American citizens need your love, too.

Trump won’t bring us together. Obama didn’t bring us together. Only we can do that. It sounds cheesy. I’m not even sure I believe it right now, but I need to believe it going forward.

So yes, I’m upset and I’m angry, and I often don’t relate to my red, red neighbors when it comes to politics. But I love you anyway. I hope you love me anyway. I hope we all love all our neighbors, all of this country, including those who hurt in ways we in rural, white America can’t understand.

We can make America great, for the first time, for everyone. It won’t start with Trump. It starts with we the people.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

4 Responses to “We the people: Trump can’t save America, but we can”

  1. Perhaps you aware that Wise County is attributed to be in an uneducated area http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article113939198.html like Tarrant County?
    I recall https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sy_Syms the slogan “An educated consumer is our best customer.” but that enterprise apparently went bankrupt?
    Do you suppose there is a message to be learned?

  2. says:

    Racey — As a former Decaturite, this article fills my heart with pride for where I came from, how I was raised and hope for our country.

  3. Pam Davis says:

    Thank you for this opinion Racey. Very good writing.

  4. Donald Drain says:

    RACEY
    I have waited for a Journalist of our County Papers to stand up and print something like this to the people of Wise County. You hit the nail square on the head in this Article. I am glad to see that the Messenger hires not because of political choices.
    My Hats off to you and i am a suscriber to this paper….
    Thanks to you and Kristen for playing fair with Us…. I will send more opinions in now knowing that I have good people to deal with with an open mind
    Don Drain
    Newark, Texas
    817 489 2208….

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