Every day seems to bring a new reason to despise President Donald Trump.
He thinks it’s OK for the Saudis to murder journalists, as long as they buy a lot of U.S. arms and sell us a lot of oil. He doesn’t believe climate change is a serious problem, even though his own government tells him it is. He wouldn’t get his freaky hairdo wet just to honor American war dead. And what he was thankful for this Thanksgiving was himself.
I give everyone I know and meet credit for being able to recognize that Trump is an amoral, self-serving narcissist and I am appalled if and when they don’t. I must confess, however, that there are members of my own family – albeit cousins – who support Trump. I will change a few names to protect the guilty.
A few weeks ago I went to a family gathering where I was quietly warned not to say anything bad about Trump because cousin Marie likes him. Really, Marie? This sort of political pussyfooting must be happening in families all over this 60-40 country.
And then there is cousin Brad.
My cousin Brad and I do not see eye-to-eye on much of anything. I’m a Northern liberal and he’s a Southern conservative. I’m a Democrat and he’s a Republican. I’m a progressive Christian and he’s an evangelical Christian. One thing we do agree on is that we are both worried the deep partisan divide in this country might eventually lead to violence.
So, in the interest of demonstrating that two people of widely divergent views can discuss matters in a civil manner, we came up with the idea of a colloquy of cousins, an email dialogue in which we would not debate but simply question and try to understand one another. It was a miserable failure.
One of the first questions I sent Brad was “Why do evangelicals support Trump?” I figured it was the abortion issue, but Brad told me it was “Israel and protection.”
“We knew Hillary’s liberal lynch mobs will do to us what they’ve done to Judge Kavanaugh, Jack the baker in CO and dozens of conservative speakers on college campuses who’ve been cussed at, threatened, assaulted and ejected from campus,” my cousin wrote. “And he has finally moved the Israeli capital to Jerusalem where it should be, and where the last 5 US presidents all promised to move it but only DT had the guts to do it.”
Brad defended Trump with what I believe are mistaken reasons. He thinks Trump “built an incredible economy,” while it’s clear to me that Trump inherited a healthy economy.
Brad thinks Trump “made Heartland voters proud of their leadership.” I think he made most of the country ashamed and the United States an international laughingstock.
Brad sees Trump as “tough on our enemies and trade competitors,” while I see him as tough on our allies and in love with murderous despots in Russia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
It was when we got to some hot-button issues, however, that things quickly turned ugly.
One of Brad’s first questions for his liberal cousin Ed concerned gay conversion therapy. Really, Brad?
“Why can a tranny male or female flip back and forth between genders at will and whenever he/she chooses,” he asked, “but a homosexual cannot become straight?”
“You seem to think that transsexualism and homosexuality are choices. They are not,” I replied. “Maybe you’re confusing transsexuals with transvestites. There is nothing morally wrong with loving someone of the same sex and no one would ever choose to be gender confused.”
I pulled the plug on our dialogue both because it seemed pointless to continue and because I tend to lose respect for people who believe nonsense and defend demagogues. There can be honest differences of opinion about policies, but not about the suitability of Trump to lead this country.
Now that the American people have demonstrated they want Trump held accountable by handing control of the House to Democrats, I both welcome and worry about serious Congressional investigations into Trump’s conduct. Welcome because I believe Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice, at the very least. Worry because investigations could lead to impeachment and impeachment to violence.
“Try to impeach him. Just try it,” Trump pal Roger Stone has warned. “You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”
That sounds like civil war to me, cousin. Maybe we should try that civil dialogue one more time.
Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.