I did not grow up thinking I would be a political person or even a person interested in politics. I remember someone in high school saying “if you’re not a democrat when you’re young, you have no heart, and if you’re not a republican when you’re old, you have no brain.” Which is all rubbish, of course, because historically the parties have switched back and forth and changed their stance on many policies.
But I grew up in a wealthy Bay Area suburb with parents who were educated. We were well off. I didn’t have to worry about most things besides maybe what rich kids at my school were dealing drugs or getting in drunk driving accidents.
I went to BYU. But then I met and married someone from Seattle (not at BYU). Even so, I still tried to stay away from politics and political discussions for awhile. I voted for Romney. I tried to not think about things (like marriage equality, feminism, or human rights) because my religion and my upbringing dictated one thing and I didn’t want to have to grapple.
I lived my life. I had kids. But then I had my OCD breakdown.
This time was a turning point for me in many areas of my life, including politics. Suddenly, I identified with a minority group—those who have mental illnesses in general and OCD specifically. I had never really been part of a minority group before. I wasn’t poor. I was white. My parents and then husband financially provided for me. I was a woman married to a man. I was Christian.
I was privileged, but it took me becoming part of a misunderstood and marginalized group to realize it. Suddenly I began to think about other minority groups too. I interacted with them, these “sub”cultures that run counter to the mass majority of heterosexual, white, Christian Americans. I listened to them. At group therapy, for example, a black woman spoke about the racism and discrimination she faced on a daily basis (in addition to what she faced with her OCD). I began to understand what it meant to have the mainstream culture not think you were valid or serious or real. I knew a portion of what it felt like to be laughed at, mocked, or disenfranchised.
Then Trump became president. I didn’t vote for Trump, and I didn’t think that it would be that big of a deal. After all, I was still heterosexual, white, and financially doing fine. But I began to see what was happening—what is happening—to the rights of those “other” groups. How they are labeled terrorists, killed by police officers or other whites for jogging or being in a drive-thru or any number of innocuous things, called “socialists,” or not seen as being worth the same as their white counterparts.
It’s easy to be white, Christian, LDS, and heterosexual in America. And as one of those people, it’s easy to become afraid of the “others.” You don’t understand. You think, “What is wrong them? Why can’t they just be like us?” without understanding the underlying foundations that have disadvantaged them from the get-go, often foundations that the white majority put in place.
We reject, overlook, and hurt these minorities and then are shocked when they want change. When they want equality. When they want reparations for the harm we have caused, often without even knowing it.
As white Latter-day Saints, we rally around the concept of repentance but balk when we are asked to make amends for harm our race or religion have caused. We feel as if we are being repressed when asked to change and not harm them anymore.
But it’s not enough to think you are not racist. It’s not enough to be nice. What are you proactively doing to help your neighbors, the “Samaritans” (the others) in our own country? What are you doing to repent of the wrongs that have been done by your people to others?
Fear and Stability
So many white Americans and white LDS Americans support and vote for Trump. It makes sense. They are afraid. Listen to the RNC right now. It’s horrifying. They fear “Antifa.” They fear black people. They fear poor people. They don’t want them moving into “their” neighborhoods. They do not want immigrants coming and taking “their” jobs.
They forget our violent colonization of this land.
They forget their own immigrant ancestors.
They forget “the captivity of [their] fathers.”
Protestors don’t want your suburban “paradise.” They don’t want your cookie cutter lawns and houses. They don’t care about that. They want to be able to live without fear of being discriminated against, killed, or otherwise harmed. They want an equal chance to have the same things that you take for granted—home loans, education, food, health care. They want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—things that the white majority so often have taken from them or prevented them from having.
“Not me,” you say. “I’m not like that.” And then you vote for Trump? Why? Because he has your back. Because he will lower your taxes, you who make more than enough money to feed and house your family. Because he will “protect you” from these enemies that don’t actually exist.
“the thing you fear never happens”
In order to overcome OCD, we have to learn to tolerate uncertainty. We have to learn to live with fear. And 99% of the time, the thing we fear isn’t even real. It never happens.
This is true for Trump supporters too. The “democrats” aren’t going to push you into communism. They aren’t going to force you to live life in a way that will negate your being. They aren’t some big bad wolf that wants to blow your house down. These are lies. These fears aren’t real. Uncertainty is a reality. But we survive. We thrive when we accept it.
A lot of people support Trump because they are looking out for themselves. Trump looks out for himself too. That’s about all he looks out for—him, people like him, or people he knows will support him. Not because he cares about them as people but because he wants to retain power. He doesn’t have a stance. He doesn’t have morals. The GOP doesn’t even have a platform this year.
Or, maybe they support Trump because they are a cop or support the police. Again, this relates to the fear. But even so, Biden isn’t going to demolish cops. Biden actually proposes more funding for police. And anyway, “defunding the police” doesn’t mean abolishing police. Seattle still has police. We have not descended into anarchy.
What would Jesus do?
Didn’t Christ want us to take care of the poor? Didn’t he want us to welcome the naked and the outcast? Wasn’t He a refugee, an immigrant, one of the outcasts Himself? Didn’t He go around giving away free healthcare to all who needed it, not just the rich and well off?
I honestly can’t understand how Christians can support Trump. To me and to most others who cannot in good conscience support Trump, it seems like you are simply looking out for yourself and those like you. It feels like you are saying by your vote that nobody else matters. Minorities don’t deserve the same rights as you. You want to be “nice” and “kind” but not when it actually comes to policies and things that will positively affect change for the lives of those unlike you.
My parents and most of my siblings are in this camp. They say I have “different life experiences” and don’t understand where they are coming from. They tell me to pray about it. That we just have different beliefs and we should respect each other.
But I believe in love. I believe in the fact—the fact—that all of us are equal and God’s children, no matter what color our skin is or what mistakes we have made. I believe that an immoral person who has shown himself to be a racist and sexist misogynist and destroyed so many agencies and programs that strive to better the earth itself and the people on that earth cannot be a good president for the America of today.
This is not the America of 1950, and that was not a good America for everyone either.
I know people are converted to their politics. They are converted to their cults. They fear the “other.” But we don’t have to. You don’t have to. You can question things. You can determine what you actually believe.
And if you believe in the hate rhetoric and fear mongering, I truly feel sorry for you. If you “seeing see not; and hearing hear not, neither do [you] understand,” you won’t be the first.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.