During the televised Democratic National Convention, I cried during the poignant speech of Muslim American Khizr Khan, an immigrant from Pakistan, about the loss of his son—fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan—and about Mr. Khan’s own love for and commitment to America. As I listened and watched, I saw an American family who sacrificed their son for our country, and I saw and understood all too well the deep sorrow in Mrs. Kahn’s eyes. As a grieving mother myself, it was for her specifically that I wept. My own broken heart shared her pain, and I admired her ability to bravely stand there on that big national stage while her husband shared their family story. When Donald Trump attacked the Khan family, dismissed their sacrifice, and suggested that Ghazala Kahn was not allowed to speak, he offended every immigrant who has ever believed in the American dream, every soldier who has ever given his life for our country, and every mother who has ever lost a child.
For months, I have watched in horror as Trump’s statements have become more outrageous and have further illustrated his ignorance and his vitriol. His attack on the Khan family is one more example in a long progression of ever escalating examples of his lack of character and grace, his appalling misanthropy, and his all-encompassing unfitness for the Presidency. Trump’s utter failure to see the grief in Mrs. Kahn’s face is another vivid instance of Trump’s inhumanity. In the past few days, as I have thought about Mr. Kahn’s speech and about Trump’s response to it, Mack has been ever present in my mind. Mack’s character and humanity are what I use these days to measure my own actions and life and to assess the world around me. Inherent in the high bar that Mack has set in that regard is some disappointment, I admit. For few of us will leave this earth with as perfect a record of happy human relationships as our dear Mack. But Trump fails my Mack test on all counts, and I have come to believe that his absolute inability to feel empathy and to show compassion for his fellow Americans is, perhaps, his gravest deficiency for suitability for the American Presidency.
If my Mack, a feminist and liberal-minded young woman, were here today, she would be a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton. One of her favorite mottos, “uteruses before duderuses,” would no doubt have found new meaning in this historic 2016 presidential campaign, In fact, it’s entirely possible she may have been actively engaged; and she certainly would have been proud of her dear friend Meagan, who is a Clinton field organizer in Nebraska. But more to the point, my loving, just-minded, big-hearted, and nonjudgmental daughter would be aghast by Trump’s tactics of hatred and bigotry. Trump’s campaign would offend everything she believed about human decency, civility, and leadership. Mack would have spoken out against Trump’s hateful campaign, and she would have wanted me to do so as well. It is for her and in honor of her true heart that I now raise my own voice.
Over the years, I have followed a general rule to keep my politics off of Facebook and out of polite discourse with people in my life who hold opposing political views to my own. I have always reserved my unabashed support for the Democratic Party and my liberal snark for family, for a close circle of politically like-minded friends, and for the shallow and more fleeting arena of Twitter. But I cannot remain silent on Trump any longer, because he is a danger to the human decency and ideals I instilled in my daughters. He offends my family’s deeply held convictions of tolerance and equality. He mocks and demeans women, which is a direct affront to the brilliant and promising girls I raised. Mack is not here to offer her own objections to Trump’s candidacy, but I knew my daughter’s heart. The boisterous hatred Trump and his supporters spew would have outraged her open mind, the negativity and cynicism of his campaign would have offended her happy heart, and his racism would have stirred her strong sense of equality and justice.
Simply put, Trump is not a legitimate candidate. He is not a legitimate Republican. I respect my Republican friends; and I admire their commitment to principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, even though I do not share them. I whole heartedly honor their rights to voice their own opinions, to engage in civil political debate with their opponents, and to vote their own consciences. This is America, and our democracy depends upon intelligent debate. But the 2016 Presidential Campaign is not a real campaign, because the Republican candidate is an affront to our ideals of tolerance, compassion, and liberty. Every single time that Trump opens his mouth, he reveals his bigotry, his sexism, his ignorance, his vanity, and his complete lack of empathy for his fellow Americans. He mocks people with disabilities, attacks the service of members of our military, incites violence against those who challenge him, and breathes hatred and intolerance. Not to mention the fact that he offers no coherent domestic or foreign policies to move America further toward a more perfect union, Trump’s message of hate should scare the hell out of every American.
Trump is not a true Republican. Trump represents no Republican ideals that I can recognize. More and more real Republicans and conservatives agree with my assessment. Trump does not represent the party of Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln is rolling over in his tomb at the possibility of a Trump presidency. So far from the character of Lincoln, Trump is a hate-mongering, egomaniacal narcissist who has devoted his entire life to himself and to his own business interests. He has no moral compass, he has no interest in public service, and he has no understanding of American history and the political foundations of our great government. His ignorance of world affairs is terrifying, he is not committed to preserving the principles of our founding fathers, and he lacks humility, honor, and empathy for the American people. He is the most dangerous presidential candidate of a major political party in the history of the United States, and the American electorate—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all—must defeat him in November. Bigotry and hatred have no place in American politics, and we all need to show Trump that they have no place in America. Not anymore. And never again.
I know that many of my Republican friends have serious reservations about Hillary Clinton. Although it is my opinion as both an informed reader and as a professional historian that no person has ever been more qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton, I appreciate the hesitancy of some, more conservative Republicans to eagerly support her candidacy. In opposition to a real Republican candidate, I would be explaining why Mack would have supported Hillary Clinton and why I support her, too. But this campaign, sadly, is not about electing a qualified life-long public servant to be the first woman President of the United States. Sadly, it is about keeping an ignorant, hateful sociopath out of the White House. The American presidency is a job for true leaders—leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Barack Obama—who have character and grace, honor and humility, and empathy and compassion for their fellow Americans.
So, please. Please. Please. I appeal to your humanity in this election. Do not vote for Trump, a man so devoid of qualifications for the Presidency that it should be laughable, a man who would shed no tears for your children. Do not vote for one of the long-shot independent candidates simply because you hate Hillary. Significant voting for independents could skew the election in favor of Trump, which would validate his candidacy of hate. Vote for Clinton-Kaine because it is a reasonable, legitimate Democratic ticket that is running a campaign against racism, against sexism, against religious intolerance, and against anti-immigrant hostility and scapegoating. Be a part of this historic election to put the first woman President in the White House, but, most importantly, cast your vote for the Democrats, who are running a real campaign against hate.
Mack Memo #3: Love Trumps Hate. Always. Did you ever go on hatin’ after a Big-Mack hug? Nope. Never. No matter what you think about my girl Hillary, her election in November will send a message to the haters that we are all in this America together.