In 2000, I argued that condensing our understanding of voting patterns into two teams, red or blue, was a big mistake. After watching election results that year, I worried aloud that reductionist approaches would only further the political schism in the U.S. Our electoral decisions, after all, are not football scores. I recall asking you back then if we could expect angry or elated voters to riot along streets of their respective cities as they do in scores of university towns after a homecoming game they believe was stolen or a victory.
In 2007, I told you that there was nothing real about Real Housewives. I added that I wondered if Andy Cohen, of Bravo fame, knew how he was contributing to our altered sense of what real means (as in @realDonaldTrump). I don’t recall if you watched The Apprentice, but I knew you were watching Fox “News.”
I hoped in 2014 that your support for Scott Walker for another term as Wisconsin governor was just misinformed. You could not seriously be backing him after he gutted worker rights and blatantly attacked LGBT rights. But you said you would pray and left his political sign on your lawn.
Back in early 2016, I told you Trump was a disaster. I asked you directly how you were duped by his smarmy showmanship, his blatant lies, his poor excuses. I asked you how you suggested I think about his self-confessed sexual assaults and rape.
I told you in 2018 that I was confused — confused about your votes, your endorsements, your silence after each of his assaults on decency and democracy. I directly questioned your morals and your intelligence, and you were furious. I invoked your stated belief in sin, asking about letting Trump’s pride, lust, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, and wrath slide.
I asked where you got your actual news, what fed your vivid imagination of fetus sales in pizza shops, guns held to heads of children, or the deep state. I wondered with you, with my family of choice, and on my own how we were going to be able to bridge our growing gulf. You said you didn’t see a way and asked why I had changed; I used to be so loving.
But your ignorance is feigned.
You use ignorance to protect yourself from this reality:
- God does not favor you above others;
- Liberty is not absolute; and,
- You are not being cheated out of your advantages as a white person.
Despite all the evidence that has piled up in the past five years, you have held on to your victimhood, to your pleasant, charitable forms of racism, and to your unwarranted allegiance to those who most support a greed-driven notion of American first. The beliefs and behaviors that you support put our nation in peril, pretending we are stronger when we put children in cages.
I am now acutely aware that we cannot come back together in the familiar ways we once did. I will not pretend our blood ties require my allegiance to working things out.
Here is how I see it. I do not want to be the man who gives you a pass on your immorality. My obligation as a member of your biological family does not extend to ignoring your willful support of this dangerous, even treacherous — direction for society. The harm to which you are contributing as an influential person in your community is significant. This breach in our family is likely permanent. It can be mended, but it will need to start with an apology and truth from you, as part of any reconciliation. You have proven in the past five years to be more likely to challenge my upset, my confusion, and my silence than to acknowledge your wrongdoing. Thus, your apology must come first.
To this I will commit for now: once a year I will let you know I am alive; I will ask my power of attorney to let you know when I die.