What adjectives come to your mind when you think of someone who voted for Donald Trump?
Racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic, selfish, idiotic? Probably.
How about compassionate, loving, open-minded, generous? I didn't think so.
Ever since the election I have found myself in the incongruous position of defending the supporters of Donald Trump. Perhaps it's due to my shock at the virulent attacks against them from the mouths and pens of people who have in the past taken pride in their openness, tolerance, and love of diversity. Maybe it's because of my natural tendency to be contrary. My daughter said, "Mom, if you were a salmon, you'd be swimming downstream." I had to think about that a bit.
I'm pretty sure, however, that my change of heart came mostly because I took a good look at the only Trump supporters in my circle of friends. We have friends who are staunch supporters of Bernie Sanders and reluctantly switched to Hillary Clinton when she became the party's nominee; friends who supported Hillary Clinton all along; friends who couldn't stand Donald Trump from the beginning and voted for him only because the alternative was unthinkable; and friends who voted third party or sat this election out because they couldn't bear to cast a vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Out of all my friends, only two openly cheered for Trump.
So I took a good look at them.
- Smart, educated, and well-travelled
- Raised five children, as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic family
- Personally settled and supported over a dozen refugees, and assisted hundreds more
- Took in hundreds of the most difficult-to-place foster children
- War veteran
- Cleaned the homes—often on hands and knees—of elderly people in the community who could no longer do the work themselves
- Support orphans and others in need—financially and in person—on three continents
- Open their home and hearts to countless visitors from all over the world, of diverse cultures and religions
- Are unabashedly and enthusiastically Christian, for whom that is always a reason to be more active, inclusive, and loving—not less
- Have uncompromising moral values which never deter them from loving and helping those who do not share their standards
- Have a joyous enthusiasm for life, in good times and in bad, that spills over into everyone they meet
- Are called Mom and Dad by enough people around the world to populate a small city
These are the only Trump supporters I know well enough to judge, and I don't have a fraction of the cred I'd need to cast a stone their way.
Before we write off as immoral subhumans half the people we share this country with, maybe we should get to know them better.