Dear Donald Trump Supporters,
Your candidate has publicly mocked a reporter with a disability (Nov 25, 2015.) He has denigrated women loudly and openly (pigs, dogs, disgusting, grotesque, fat, ugly, bimbo.) He said we should build institutions for people with mental illnesses (Face the Nation, Jan 3, 2016.)
One man’s opinions and actions matter little to me except that he has followers like you, a lot of you, apparently. In interviews and polls, your reasons for backing him usually boil down to, “He tells it like it is,” so I have to believe you agree with him on these points and deem his behavior desirable.
And that terrifies me.
As a woman with a mental illness (generalized anxiety/panic disorder) and the mother of two boys with disabilities, I always knew there were haters out there. I follow social media and read the comments on internet articles and have seen hate and ignorance spewed about on a daily basis.
I am acutely aware there are those convinced that people with mental illnesses are dangerous and a threat, when the opposite is actually true and we are much more likely to be victims of violent crimes.
I know misogyny abounds even today and women are considered a punchline, a sexual object, or even a punching bag.
Most distressful to me, however, is the mockery of people like my boys, or worse, the opinion that their lives are not worth living and they shouldn’t even exist at all. These boys love life, they have intrinsic value and worth, and they have my heart.
This is not about politics for me. This is real life. No matter what happens in the Primaries or come November, I’m afraid now and feel unsafe in my own community.
See, I used to think all those people with all those opinions about my life were just internet trolls who maybe lived in their mother’s basements.
Until your candidate became wildly popular and you began following him, I had no idea I worked with those people, went to church with them, and even invited them to my home. And, frankly I don’t know what to do with that.
Because while you appear to treat me normally, you support Trump because “he says what everyone is thinking” so I have to believe you think it’s okay for men to treat me with disdain or for me to be institutionalized. While you smile and pat my boys on the head, in your mind, it matters not that people bully, ostracize, and mock them.
Your support of Mr. Trump frightens me, not necessarily because of what it means for the future of this country, but because of what it means for the present. The reality is my world is not as safe and good as I once thought it to be. My neighbors, co-workers, and friends are not the people I presumed them to be.
I now understand, that while you may not intend to hurt me or my family, you would do nothing to stop it were we to be harmed in the name of straight talk, or change to the political system, or “making America great again.”
I know this because you’re allowing it to happen now.
You’re part of a cultural shift in which people who are not like you are maligned, threatened, and sometimes physically tossed about for being different or expressing different opinions. You may not actually be doing the threatening or the tossing, but you’re endorsing it.
Your true character, the core of who you are, is now exposed and to be honest, I’m a little afraid of you.
I’ve allowed my vulnerabilities to seep through in our past interactions. I’ve shown you my hand. My gender was obvious, but you also know of my struggles with anxiety and panic. You know the joys and challenges I’ve faced raising children with special needs and the uphill road ahead of them as adults with cognitive disabilities.
How long before you prey upon those weaknesses or allow others to do the same?
To you, this may be just about politics, but to me, your support of Mr. Trump paints a picture of who you actually are.
And that makes me kind of sad, and scares me more than a little.
Erecting my own wall around myself and family,
A fellow American