Dear Mr Trump,
It’s taken me a while to realize this and to admit it, but I’m grateful to you.
For the past eighteen months I’ve spent a good deal of time lamenting your campaign and the poison it has so effortlessly generated, and your Presidency which is doing even greater damage. I’ve watched our country imploding, our public discourse become polluted, our political climate grow ever more corrosive, and wrongly assumed you were to blame.
It’s only lately I’ve come to understand that you haven’t manufactured our current national ugliness—you’ve simply revealed it.
By saying the irresponsible, mean-spirited, ignorant things you say so freely and so frequently, you’ve given other like-minded people license to do the same. You’ve opened up the floodgates for our corporate sewage to flow fully. People no longer conceal their vile mess, they now revel in it, they broadcast it and retweet it.
You’ve made bigotry, misogyny, and racism socially acceptable again and that has been a kind of twisted gift because it’s allowed me to really see people; not as they pretend to be on the surface—but in the very depths of their wounded, weaponized hearts.
Over and over as your campaign persisted, your supporters would tell me that they like you because you “speak your mind”. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized that you speak their minds. You’ve given credence to their prejudices and made those prejudices go mainstream.
Thanks to the terrible ground you’ve broken, politicians, pastors, friends, and strangers, both in person and on social media now regularly out themselves as hateful, intolerant, and malicious—and they remind me just how close they are to me, just how deep the sickness in us runs, and just how far we have to go together.
You’ve emboldened people to be open about things they used to conceal for the sake of decorum, and though it turns my stomach, I know that this is the only way we can move forward; to have that cancerous stuff exposed fully so that it can be dealt with. Our progress as a nation is predicated on authentic dialogue, no matter how brutal and disheartening that dialogue is.
In other words, you’ve let us know what we’re really dealing with here and while it’s been rightly disturbing, it’s also been revelatory. That’s the thing about that kind of harsh light: you’re forced to see everything. Beauty and monstrosity equally illuminated.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think you’re the least qualified, least knowledgeable President we’ve ever had, and I fear gravely for the world my children will inherit—should it survive your Presidency at all. I believe you’re reckless, bitter, and completely reprehensible; the very worst kind of bully.
But regardless of what happens now, you’ve already allowed me the blessing of Truth; about me, about you, about our nation.
And in the process you’ve also shown me that I am not alone in resisting you and this ugly thing you’ve revealed about us.
You’ve generated an equally loud, equally passionate response to it and this is where I find my hope these days.
I find it in those for whom equality isn’t just a cheap buzzword, it’s the most precious of hills to die on.
I find it in those people who refuse to be silent in the face of our impending shared regression.
I find it in those willing to be more bold in defending the inherent value of all people.
I find it in the growing army of those who will not tolerate hatred as a core American value.
I find it in those who reject violence as our default response to dissension.
I find it in the ever rising voice of people who will not let malice and bitterness represent them in the world.
Today I find my hope in those who, like me, will not be complicit in allowing bigotry and intolerance to become a source of national pride, because we’ve seen where that leads.
Yes, Mr Trump, you’ve unearthed our hidden sickness and you’ve allowed it to go viral.
You brought every awful thing about us out into the open.
And for this—I thank you.