Dear Trump Supporters: I Don’t Hate You
I don’t hate Trump supporters.
I wish I could.
It sure would be easier than this awful swirl of emotions I cannot even put into a word.
I wish you could see what I see, what I’ve seen the past five years, what I see now. Maybe you could set aside five minutes and consider the world from my viewpoint.
I am no stranger to Donald J. Trump. I was an addict of The Apprentice show for years. It taught me things about marketing and business. I loved the competitive element. I even auditioned to be a contestant on Season 6. Because of all this, I knew Donald Trump better than any other political candidate ever put on a ballot. And it was because I knew so much about him, that I believed he should not be president.
I saw the catastrophe that would be wrought by elevating a man with no history of public service, no real understanding of the office of the presidency, and a demonstrated history of being a con artist, to the position of leader of the free world.
I understood that character demonstrates itself in everyday life and that a man who brags of uninvited pussy-grabbing, who calls a pedophile “a great guy,” and runs a fake university is not demonstrating character.
I recognized a playground bully for who he was, despite his fancy suits, his incessant bragging, and slapping his name in gold on anything that stood still. I saw him for who he was: a man not much different than a wild animal marking his scent on everything.
I didn’t understand why you didn’t see all of this too.
You told me he wasn’t bad. You said he was colorful and a little unpolished. That was his appeal. You told me the horrible things he said about Mexicans and Muslims, the disabled and ugly, the liberals and the press, were just a sign of his honesty. You told me you didn’t agree with those things. You told me he would be more presidential. Maybe that helped you sleep better at night.
You told me he really wasn’t racist, or sexist, or misogynistic, or a narcissist. The evidence came in, day after day, tweet by tweet, headline by headline, mostly from Trump’s very lips. “The press is just out to get him,” you would saw, never bothering to ferret out the truth.
You wouldn’t hear my warnings. You wouldn’t believe me. You made excuses.
On November 8, 2016 the votes were cast, the media predicted a winner, and the loser graciously offered her concession.
I was devastated. You cheered. You didn’t care that US intelligence reported that Russia had interfered in the election. You didn’t believe it. I get it, winning feels better than losing. Admitting that someone might have tipped the scales would tarnish the feel of winning.
Where were you when the election was called? You were no doubt sitting with your buddies with a red MAGA hat on your head, having a beer and crowing about your win over “the libtards.” Trump accepted the win and tried to stop any efforts at recounts. You didn’t scream about a rigged system or stolen election.
Where was I? I’ll tell you.
In December 2016, I joined with a group of presidential electors and lawyers looking for any legal way to keep Donald Trump out of the most sacred office in our democratic republic. We did this because we were worried, sick with worry for our country. We filed lawsuits, we put our reputations, energy, and passion on the line to keep an unfit man out of office.
We weren’t fighting to flip votes to Clinton, or even to Democrats. We didn’t demand $20,000/day for our tireless work. We worked for free.
We got death threats, but proceeded on. Legally. Truthfully. We appealed to President Obama and House Speaker Pelosi to allow electors access to more information underlying the intelligence reports about Russian interference in the election before they placed their crucial presidential and vice-presidential votes.
In Colorado, Washington, and California, we filed lawsuits on behalf of Democrat electors who were seeking the right to vote for a compromise Republican candidate for president. Our team included Republicans, Democrats, and Independents working together to protect our country. The Democrat electors were suing for the right to vote for a Republican other than Trump for president. They were choosing country over party, country over personality. Clinton did not request these lawsuits, she did not participate in them, and neither did the Democratic Party.
Here’s how our complaint filed in the United States District Court for Northern California began –
Plaintiff seeks the protection to act as a Presidential Elector not merely by placing a ceremonial vote, but as part of a deliberative body, placing a vote that is most likely to ensure that only a person with the adequate qualifications for office be voted in as President of the United States. . . .
Donald Trump and his campaign intervened in the case, fighting to keep “his” electors. They argued that the elector “seeks to renege not just on his commitment to his Party, which has for months relied on Plaintiff to honor his promise, but also on his commitment to tens of millions of California voters, all of whom relied on that promise when they voted for President on November 8.”
Donald Trump and his lawyers argued that refusal to vote for the winner of a State election would constitute “a political usurpation” and “a fraud upon his constituents.” They argued that “by disrupting the presidential transition, Plaintiff’s delay threatens our nation as a whole. … ’[a]ny disruption’ in a transition ‘could produce results detrimental to the safety and well-being of the United States and its people.’”
After thorough arguments, the court rejected our request. We hated it, but respected it. On December 8, 2016, presidential electors voted in their home states. On January 6, 2017 Congress convened and counted those votes within an hour’s time. President Obama didn’t ask Vice President Biden to overturn the election. Neither President Obama nor Secretary Clinton held any rallies that day, neither suggested their supporters should go to the US Capitol, en masse, to “fight” or to “take back the country.”
On January 20, 2017, Trump was sworn in as president. I felt sick, but I accepted that this is how democracy works and that hopefully our country was resilient enough to hamper his worst impulses.
Where were you? Celebrating, no doubt. Some of you were hurling insults at my friends and family in the public square, newly emboldened to embrace the crassness and violent rhetoric you had fed off of during Trump’s raucous campaign events.
Do you know where I was? I suspect you think you know. I suspect you think I was off somewhere crying about a lost election, acting like a sore loser. I wasn’t.
On January 20, 2017, the day I believed that the most dangerous person ever elected to US office was being inaugurated, I was on the phone. I called the Secret Service. I had received information from a conspiracy theorist threatening the execution of Donald J. Trump. I thought they should know. I respected the Office of President even when I absolutely did not respect the person holding the office.
For the next four years I cringed at every new tweet, horrible headline, saw the country devolve into ever deeper levels of dysfunction and destruction of norms of behavior. You cheered. You wore t-shirts saying “f**k your feelings” and accused me of heinous things. I marched in protest, unarmed, peacefully. I decried the instances when rioters distracted from the otherwise peaceful protesters. I went to the border and interviewed children caught up in the war against immigrants. I cried more than once.
By the November 2020 presidential election I was exhausted. Trump preached that any election he didn’t win was a “steal” or a “fraud.” When the results were finally released showing Biden had won, I breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in four years. You were upset, really upset. And I saw how Trump took advantage of that. He gave you a mirage of hope, that the election was stolen, but he would fix it. Over 90 lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies challenging the results were all rejected by courts.
Trump still won’t accept the results. He called you all together for a “wild time” on January 6, 2021 and thousands of you came. He whipped you up with fiery rhetoric. Its time for “trial by combat.” “Pence didn’t have the courage” to overturn the election. Walk down to the Capitol and “fight.” “This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party!”
Were you there? Were you watching from afar? Were you cheering at the idea of fighting to protect your country from those evil others, fellow Americans who didn’t vote for Trump?
Back in 2016, Trump told a court about the dangers of such actions:
[In 1876], disputes concerning electors from multiple states dragged out for months after Election Day. The resulting political uncertainty provoked a constitutional crisis, with many Democrats crying “Tilden or Blood!” and Kentucky preparing 100,000 men to march on Washington. … The uncertainty also sapped the legitimacy of the ultimate victor … Congress enacted the strict timeline of the Electoral Count Act to prevent a repetition of “the year of disgrace, 1876,” in which a “cabal . . . had determined . . . to debauc[h] the Electoral College.”
He didn’t mention any of that on January 6th, just before hundreds of frenzied Trump supporters pushed their way past Capitol Police forcing the Secret Service to whisk away the Vice President and Congressional leadership to a secure location while the remaining lawmakers had to barricade themselves in rooms to escape the mob. Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol and Congressional offices while the President of the United States sat safely away in the White House enjoying the show on TV.
Where were you while this was going on? Were you there when the commander in chief told you to go and fight? Were you at home cheering them on?
“I didn’t storm the Capitol,” you may say. “I don’t support violence.” But where were you? Why didn’t you see the speeding train of lies and glorification of offense and violence that sooner or later would end with a mob attack on our democracy?
Outrageous lies about the election outcome were being circulated around the internet for two months. Did you share them? Did you sympathize with them? You said, “he should have his day in court,” and I didn’t disagree. Then judge after judge after judge after judge said, “You cannot just say there was a massive fraud but bring no evidence.” You said, “They just hate Trump,” and “The truth will come out,” but you wouldn’t believe the truth. You still don’t believe the truth. You had already decided that the lies were the truth. That black was white. That up was down. That truth came in “alternative” options.
I get it. Repeated lies start sounding like truth. Maybe you liked the lies better than the truth.
Where were you when Trump told you, his supporters, to fight like hell — to fight like hell to support a lie?
Don’t pretend you didn’t know the insurrection of January 6th was inevitable. Don’t pretend you didn’t know that Trump was dangerous to this country. Don’t pretend that Trump supporters were peacefully protesting. Don’t pretend that incendiary words of a world leader don’t matter. Don’t pretend that Trump was being sarcastic or hyperbolic or satirical.
Massive gallows were erected in front of the Capitol, with a noose, while a mob searched inside looking for the Vice President, the very same person your President just blamed for not overturning a democratic election.
Nobody brings gallows to a peaceful protest. Nobody brings a noose. Nobody needs ladders, tactical gear, or zip tie handcuffs at a peaceful protest. Nobody brings guns, homemade napalm, and pipe bombs to a peaceful protest.
I used to think such things went without saying, but I don’t anymore.
Calls went out from the besieged US Capitol for security backup. Calls to neighboring states, to the Department of Defense, to anyone who could reclaim security of the building. It took hours. I used to think that DC law enforcement planned for the arrival of thousands of angry people who planned to be out in the streets. I guess I was wrong. I guess angry white people are less of a security concern than angry black people.
Five people died at the US Capitol on January 6th — including a Capitol police officer murdered by so-called “peaceful protestors” who smashed his head with a fire extinguisher. I was saddened, but I wasn’t surprised. I saw this coming. I don’t know why you didn’t.
I wish I could just hate everyone who voted for Trump, everyone who was so willfully blind to the inevitable awfulness I could have predicted from the beginning — did predict from the beginning. I wish hating every Trump supporter would bring back Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, would undo the physical and the emotional trauma inflicted that day.
Two days after the insurrection, Fox & Friends’ Ainsley Earnhardt tried to defend you. She said you were just “scared” and “worried,” “confused and heartbroken that [your] candidate didn’t win, and [you] don’t want to be forgotten.”
Forgotten? Oh no, there is no danger of that. After four years of being called a “snowflake” and being told “fuck your feelings,” I’m not in a very compassionate mood over the “feelings” of rioters and terrorists or anyone who kept company with them.
I was destroyed when Trump won in 2016, scared, worried, terrified, confused, and heartbroken that a clearly unfit person was becoming president, but I never broke the law. I never circulated lies invented by a narcissist to protect a candidate’s fragile ego. I never failed to see Trump for who he truly was, and is. I marched in the street to have my voice heard, but I never brought along a gun or a noose. Or a bomb.
But if I’ve learned nothing else in these past five years it is that spreading hate and fear is easy. But it solves nothing.
It would be easy just to hate you for what you have done to this country, what you have allowed through your actions and inactions. But I can’t. I can’t because I love America more and because you are fellow Americans. How we get from here to a better place I don’t yet know, but I have hope that we will someday find a sliver of compassion and kindness to build on.
When our country was attacked on 9/11, we immediately united in our American resilience and unity. January 6, 2021 was different. The attack was from within, from our fellow Americans, and somehow, it feels way worse than 9/11. I wish I could hate you for your part in that. It sure would be easier.
Melody A. Kramer is an award-winning author, lawyer, and represented California presidential elector Vinz Koller in a 2016 lawsuit seeking to free electors to vote in a compromise Republican candidate instead of Donald Trump. Follow her on Medium and Twitter @MelodyAKramer.