I have been thinking lately about what being part of “the resistance” means for me. When Trump was first elected, it seemed critically important to point out his lies, his manipulations, and his hypocrisy. There needed to be multiple strong voices against his racism and misogyny. It felt mandatory that we dissect his specious reasoning regarding foreign policy and the economy. To be silent about these things felt wrong. Voices against his behavior and his policies needed to be loud and they had to be legion.
Now, however, we are all aware that this person lies, attacks those who stand up to him, is incapable of rational thought, may be mentally ill, certainly has a personality disorder, and appears hell-bent on destroying our democracy, of literally tearing us apart–of tearing our country apart.
Don’t know about you, but I need no further evidence of this. If I never see another post about how he has misspelled a word or denied doing something everyone knows he did, or how he has found yet another way to make it all about him, it will be too soon. We are spinning our wheels if this is how we continue to define resistance.
While I still stand against what Trump is doing to the country and our democracy, I am more concerned about what he is doing to me–to us. For the past two years, I have tried my best to understand those who support Trump. I wanted to understand their thinking as a way of providing a rationale for their acceptance of what to me seemed unacceptable. I wanted, on some level, reconciliation. I found none. And in this void, I started to become another of Trump’s victims. There recently was a day when my disgust and hatred for Trump supporters became apparent.
I hated them for enabling this poor excuse for a human being. I hated them for blindly following someone who uses them. I hated them for what I saw as stupidity, for their eagerness to be manipulated by him. To do his bidding.
And then I realized that he is doing the same thing to me. By encouraging the worst behavior of his base, he is saying to never-Trumpers, “Vilify them, hate them, give up on them. They are not like you; feel free to castigate and look down on them.” Sound familiar? He not only wants his base to fear and reject immigrants and people of color; he wants us to reject his base; to see them as other. He is an agent of chaos–thrives on it. And within the constant chaos, I was losing sight of myself as the good person I thought I was.
I cannot hate someone because they hate and discriminate against others. I will not, because that is exactly what he is counting on us to do. A house divided against itself cannot stand. There is no good solution that includes the continued exclusion of any group of people. And when I hate others, it is I who suffer.
So there is a new component to my resistance now; a new effort to understand, to find ways to compromise and be conciliatory. To extend to Trump’s base what I expect them to extend to the immigrant and to the person of color: respect for their humanity.