Columnist Karen Gardner: Reaching out to Trump supporters

  • The operator of a car taking part in a drive-by counter protest gestures to two Trump supporters attending a MAGA May Day "Rally for Freedom" near the Coolidge Bridge in Northampton on Saturday, May 2, 2020. Between 5 and 10 counter-protesters also stood near the bridge, or across Damon Road, while dozens of other counter protesters drove by several times in cars with a variety of signs advocating for PPE for workers, the de-carceration of prisons and praising front-line workers or denouncing Trump and Trump policies. gazette file photo

Published: 5/12/2020 6:00:09 PM

Dear Donald Trump supporter,
I’ve been meaning to write to you for some time now and I think that time has finally arrived. Even though our political beliefs appear very much at odds, we currently live in a new world together where the deadly coronavirus cares little about political beliefs or party affiliation.

Americans are getting sick and are dying on both sides of the political spectrum from a virus that does not care who you support for president in the coming election.

So, I ask you, is your most important priority today to reelect the president for four more years? Or is it to make sure that your loved ones are safe from this sickness and possible death? Because people are dying, more than 80,000 so far, as of Monday.

You may be lucky right now and live in a place where the virus has not yet reared its deadly head, but it will come. We are all at risk, both blue and red, conservative and liberal, and everything in between, at least while there exists no viable vaccine. In the meantime, our only hope to fight it off is to agree to keep a safe distance from people, to wear a mask, to wash our hands endlessly and to believe and do what the health experts are telling us, not the politicians.

The truth is that for all our differences, we are very much the same – fertile ground for the virus. But more than that, I think we are the same in what we want for ourselves, our families and our communities. This has become quite evident in the wake of this pandemic. Thousands, and perhaps millions, of us will need medical treatment when this virus eventually finds us and takes hold. Now with tens of millions out of work and losing health insurance, we will each face the crisis of how to pay for the care we’ll need. But should we even have to worry about such a thing when we or a loved one is sick? This virus has laid bare the failures of our system.

Flawed as it was, Obamacare was, among many other things, an attempt to protect us from excessive control by the insurance companies. Unfortunately, it didn’t go far enough in doing so. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just go to the doctor when you’re sick without worrying about the bill, or getting permission? Yes, it would be, and it exists in one form or another in countries like Denmark, for example. We could have that here, but only if we start working together to make it happen. Why support a politician who is killing Obamacare without creating a replacement? Can you tell me, after 3 ½ years in office, what the president has planned when Obamacare is gone?

I know that some of you think that if I disagree with Donald Trump, I must then be a Trump-hater. But I don’t hate him or anyone else. I do wonder why you seem to treat him as a flawless god that must be defended at all costs. If I disagree with his policies or I push back against his lies, that doesn’t make me a hater, as I’ve heard some of you call those who oppose his policies. It makes me a human being with differing views and opinions. It should not make me someone worthy of your hate.

Despite what you may think of me and my progressive ideas, here’s what I want for all of us – free and accessible health care for everyone; a decent and living wage for the hard work we do; a strong social safety net for when that job disappears for whatever reason; a great educational system for our kids with free college too; paid parental and sick leave; and when we grow old, I want to know that our Social Security benefits will support us through to the end. There’s more, but I think you get the idea.

Does my wanting these things make me a bad person? I’m not taking anything from you, just wanting to give all of us the care, health and otherwise, we deserve and the peace of mind that will bring. As I mentioned before, in Denmark all this is available to its citizens. Yes, they pay more than we do to support the system, but what they get in return is lightyears beyond what we get for what we pay. And Denmark’s citizens are rated just about the happiest people in the world, right behind Finland. The U.S. placed 19th.

I don’t hate Donald Trump, but I do think he’s a deeply flawed human who finds himself in a job he is demonstrably incapable of handling, and because of that, he is endangering us during this unprecedented crisis, as he has done since taking office.

We need the most qualified, competent, and experienced person we can find to handle this job. Someone capable of guiding us through and out of this horrific health and economic crisis without stirring up more chaos and division and, yes, hate as well.

I don’t care who that person turns out to be, don’t care about their gender or race or age, nor their financial status, not even their party (well, maybe their party). I want the best person for the job before more of us become sick and die, a person who will tell us the truth about what we’re facing, who will inspire us, soothe us, and bring us together to work for our common good, not divide us into opposing camps.

Donald Trump has shown us time and again that he is not that person. I hope that you are beginning to see that too.

Karen Gardner of Haydenville, can be reached at opinion@gazettenet.com.


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