Erika D. Smith

Hey, Donald Trump supporters! Are you feeling guilty yet?

Dear supporters of Donald Trump,

I know it’s only been a few days, but are you by chance starting to feel guilty about your vote for president? I wasn’t going to ask – really, I wasn’t – but the oddest thing just keeps happening to me.

It started shortly after Election Day with my Uber driver. I climbed into the front seat of his black sedan and he smiled politely. We weren’t going far, but somehow, the talk quickly turned to Trump.

“I admit, I voted for him,” he said sheepishly, briefly meeting my eyes. “I just care about the economy.” I nodded, too tired to get into a debate.

Then there was the guy who chatted me up during a weekend getaway to Reno. “All this racist, sexist stuff,” he said, waving his wrinkled white hand dismissively. “It’s just been hyped up by the media. You’ll see. I voted for him. Obamacare just needs to go.”

Again, I nodded, trying to be understanding.

But then there was the woman from Folsom who sidled up to me at a bar in downtown Sacramento. “My cousin is gay. Marry who you want. My uncle is black. I’m all for Black Lives Matter.” She stared into her drink and continued, imploringly. “I really don’t think he’s racist. I don’t think he’s going to do all of those things he said.”

I didn’t nod.

For days, I feel like I’ve been listening to people recite a Trumped up version of, “I’m not racist. Some of my best friends are black.” Who are you trying to convince with that mess? Certainly not me.

You see, I subscribe to the Maya Angelou school of thought: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” And I do it, as Oprah Winfrey added, “the first time.”

I believed Trump when he said he wanted to ban Muslims from the country, and to destroy families by sending millions of undocumented immigrants back to Mexico and violence-racked countries in Latin America. I believed him when said his prescription for the “hell” that he thinks are inner cities is more cops and more gentrification. And I believed him when he said that being rich means he can force himself on women.

I believed him because he has shown us who he is by discriminating against black tenants in his apartment complexes and by shaming women like former Miss Universe Alicia Machado without a second thought.

So I’m disgusted, but hardly surprised that, as president-elect, Trump has appointed Michael Flynn, who believes that the religion of Islam itself is the root of the problem in the Middle East, as national security adviser. Or that he named Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, who has made a career out of riling up alt-right white supremacists, as his chief strategist.

Or, for attorney general, that he picked Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has made it his mission to nab undocumented immigrants. Or that Trump found a climate change denier to lead the transition team to find a new chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Why Sacramento first lady Michelle Rhee would want to work with that bunch is beyond me.)

Or that net neutrality is likely to go bye-bye under a Trump administration, which means I soon could be shelling out more for Netflix. How could you?! I need my “Orange Is the New Black” chill nights!

But I digress.

I’m sorry if you’re surprised by all of this. I truly am. I’m just not sure what you want me to do about it. What do you want from any black or brown person, any gay or transgender person, any woman or any immigrant who saw through the thinly veiled con that was our president-elect’s campaign strategy?

What do you want us to say when you, unsolicited, decide to confess your electoral sins? That we forgive you? That it’s OK? That we understand that you’re not really racist or sexist or homophobic, but merely wanted to pay less for health care, bring some jobs back to the Midwest and make immigrants follow the rules?

OK, I get it. Really, I do. But the truth is, I no longer care.

What we have in effect now is the Pottery Barn Rule, made famous by former Secretary of State Colin Powell in his talks with then-President George W. Bush about the consequences of invading Iraq. “You break it, you own it.”

You had your reasons for voting for Trump and for cherry-picking what you wanted to believe about him, based on his sketchy personal history and the divisive drivel of his campaign speeches. But by making that choice, you also have unleashed a fusillade of hate, as he goes about appointing semi-competent ideologues to egg on the racists in our midst and do all the things you thought Trump would never do.

Remember that if internment camps and a national registry for Muslim immigrants ever become reality. Or when your child comes home from school recounting how his Latina classmate with undocumented parents left the cafeteria crying because other students were chanting “build the wall.”

Or when someone spray paints a swastika and “Make America Great Again” on the side of your Jewish neighbor’s house. Or when a transgender co-worker gets attacked by men shouting “Trump” while walking home one night.

You are responsible for that, too, because you helped put Trump in the powerfully influential position of president of the United States. It’s enough to give anyone who isn’t racist, transphobic or xenophobic a bad case of buyer’s remorse. But don’t expect me or anyone else likely to bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s policies to care.

Sorry, but I’m done assuaging your guilt.

Erika D. Smith: 916-321-1185, @Erika_D_Smith

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