An Open Letter to my Republican Family and Friends

 My Fellow Americans,

When this country first announced it would separate from Great Britain and declare its independence, the Douglas side of my family had already been in the land for more than seventy years. We were Scottish farmers who landed at the James River Settlement, and then traveled to Dover, Delaware and then on to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we grew deep roots on our farm. Over the next hundred years, we moved west and ended up in the Western part of the state. I guess that makes us immigrants.

As much as I love to throw that timeline at the immigrants and their families who landed later, I really shouldn’t. Regardless of when they arrived, most Americans are pretty much alike. We all have our small minded faults and fabulous imaginative minds. The majority of us speak the same language, give or take the localisms, idioms and accents. All that aside, today let’s look at the great divide. It’s a story we’ve been fed for years. We even paint our maps with each state’s voting preference, calling them red states or blue states. We have a few purple states, but not a single one lacks color.

Here’s a relevant fact. In every state that is declared to be one color, on one side, there are millions of voters on the other side. There are Republicans in New York and, wait for it, Democrats in Alabama, meaning there is a difference between a party and a people. We are all Americans, but if you spend any time on social media or watch cable news you might believe every person is born with an R or D sticker on their forehead. It’s not hard to imagine every newborn American baby getting a blood transfusion which determines their political values and affiliations for life. Not true.

My parents were Republicans, and I honestly believe their political choice was tied to my father fighting in World War II under General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a Republican. My mother and father adored Eisenhower and it’s no coincidence that my first name is Dwight. Maybe I was switched at the hospital with a Democrat infant, but I never bought into the fact that my father was a union member and a truck driver but not a Democrat. I had assumed that the Democrats were labor, and the Republicans were owners. That was the first of my personal myths I was able to disprove.

Anti-War Protesters

The anti-Vietnam War movement in my young adult days was much like the Black Lives Matter movement of today. It drove a wedge between parents and their kids. The concept of “taking a side” helped rivet the armor of every person and deflected any attempt at a logical argument that might lead to consensus. Some people say it’s okay to disagree as long as you’re not being disagreeable, but that’s bullshit to me. When I dive into an argument I want to win, and that means not that you see my side but that you convert to my idea. So, there you have it, I am the problem but at least I admit it. So, how do we make things better?

I understand the hurt when your friends, family and social media makes fun of you or the person who got your vote. It’s impossible to move forward when contrasting actions of one with the reactions of others. When someone posts a terrible picture of Donald Trump on social media and makes fun of him, his supporters are bothered by it. I get that because I was annoyed beyond description seeing photoshopped pictures of Obama as a Nazi or Muslim. Graphic graffiti is everywhere, even down to racist rants scrawled on the bathroom wall of a classy restaurant.

One letter cannot heal the wounds and change the face of bigotry and hateful comments about innocent people, but let’s look at our situation. Why did so many people fall into depression when Trump didn’t win? Do they really believe that deep-state radicals stole the election from the man who said that if he didn’t win it proved the election process was rigged? 74,222,593 people voted for Trump, despite his constant cautions that the election would be fraudulent, because the voters knew it wasn’t. They had faith that the system would work. Then there were the 81,281,502 people who voted for Joe Biden because they felt that Trump seriously mishandled the COVID crisis. Sometimes when we disagree with another we preface a critical comment with the words “nothing personal,” but this election was personal. It was a matter of life or death.

You may have poured a lot of emotional currency into one man, but just like the devoted wife who finds out that her husband of many years has been unfaithful, there comes a point when an unworthy individual no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt. Millions of people doubted Donald Trump’s words and deeds about the pandemic. I genuinely believe that if the coronavirus hadn’t attacked the US, Trump would still be president.

Goodbye, 45.

As we learn more about wanting power, talking about power and whipping up members of a “base” into some deep fervor against things, we might see that Donald Trump didn’t understand who we are and neglected to emphasize the good things. When a soldier is constantly under fire in battle mode, he cannot display warmth, empathy or grace. If I tell you what I really think about Donald Trump, why must you attack me? Why do you think I am your enemy? If you really knew me, you would understand that I care about America just as much as you do, and I also have a strong altruistic side.

I’m ready to move on to what John McCain called “regular order.” That arrangement of things was violently confronted and some people lost their lives during the riot on Capitol Hill. Why? Had the radical Trump people overthrown Congress, what would they have done next? Would they have hung Mike Pence and declared Donald Trump the winner? Then what? Following the French revolution, enemies of the state had their heads sliced off at guillotines in the Paris parks. That’s a major reason why intelligent and caring people distanced themselves from the Capitol Hill melee.

This brings me to my fundamental plea. Blaming and demeaning all Republicans is wrong, but Donald Trump’s brand is so tainted that members should denounce him and focus on rebuilding their party. That would be a huge step in bringing this country back to civil intercourse. We had a president who constantly squawked about how bad it is to be a loser, but when he actually lost, no one saw the irony. Donald Trump himself caused Joe Biden’s win and he is the reason Republicans lost the majority in the Senate. It’s proven that he suppressed the vote in the Georgia runoff election by telling Georgians their election was rigged, and the voting turnout was less than that of the general election. You’re smart, you know this, yet you want to let him lead the party in the future. Why would you let the wolf back into the hen house? Who wants to be led by a loser?

I laugh at my neighbors with their Trump 2020 and Blue Lives Matter flags flapping in the wind. I am too polite to ask them, “Still with the cop killer?” but until they see the dichotomy of supporting both ideologies, they will be at war with themselves and America. In this rare moment I admit that Mitch McConnell is right. Trump incited the riot and people lost their lives because of his lies. We need to move on from Donald and allow two strong parties to act as a check and balance. If Republicans allow people like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to fertilize the lie, the party will fracture into two factions and Democrats will win every election thereafter.

I want you to have one savior, not two. I want you to separate yourself from someone who did a bad job and caused many people to suffer. You don’t have to hate him but send that cheating husband away and let him try to earn back your trust, if he can. As for me, I just want people to stop dying unnecessarily. Unless we become united our democracy will decay. For the sake of our kids and grandkids, please open your mind to at least admitting there is more than one way to make America great again.

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  1. While I would like to think it was not the pandemic alone that undid Donald Trump, there is not question it was the icing on a miserable cake. But I fear talking about the need to extend hands across the great divide will not be enough to “bring us together.” We are in a holding area now. If people who have “lost” see their situation improving, they may be inclined to be less dogmatic, but for now, they remain skeptical. So, if we can achieve a cease fire for the time being, that will be the first step in improving the American conversation. That begins with each of us — despite the funny memes on facebook — and our officials in Washington. Unfortunately, there remains a few of those officials who see advantage in feeding the divide. This is not going to be easy, but let’s show them who we REALLY are.

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