Dear Trump supporter,
I know, you’re unhappy. And I also know, many of you don’t accept the final outcome of the 2020 US presidential election. This is ironic when you think about it, because the last time people like me were in your position, your only advice to us was, “Too bad. Get over it.” Then you spent the next four years reminding us to get over it pretty much every day. In fact, you spent the next four years telling us Donald Trump was our President — whether we liked it or not.
Well guess what? I guess the tables have turned. You got your comeuppance. You got your John Podesta moment. You now know how it feels to have defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. But I’m not going to do to you what you did to me — and people like me. I’m not going to gloat. Instead, I’m going to ask you a question. That question is this. Why do you let Donald Trump decide what’s morally right and what’s morally wrong for you? Can’t you decide those things for yourselves?
Permit me to give you an example. Donald Trump almost never wears a mask. He frequently supports the narrative that masks are optional and he even supports people who rebel against wearing masks entirely. As a result, his people almost never wear masks either. Even members of his own staff pay lip service to mask-wearing as well.
But do you understand why wearing a mask is important? Do you know what a mask is for? Do you know what a mask does to keep us safe? Take a guess. Chances are you’re wrong.
The actual reason for wearing a mask isn’t to protect you. It’s to protect others. You see, carriers of coronavirus can have no symptoms at all for a very long time. Sometimes they can have no symptoms for as long as they carry the virus.
So if everyone wears a mask, especially these coronavirus carriers who don’t know they are coronavirus carriers, the chances of coronavirus spreading are drastically reduced. Think of that. Think of the hundreds of thousands of people who would be alive today, or the millions who would have never gotten sick in the first place, if only we’d done the right thing from the very start.
Other countries did it. Many other countries saved lives and saved businesses because their people cooperated. In fact, this kind of thing only ever happens when people cooperate. This was our chance to shine, to show how through cooperation we can all save lives. Cooperation, in short, is the kind of thing democracy was born to do.
You see, when we stand together against a common enemy, only then can we make America great again. And there has never been an enemy quite so relentless, quite so implacable, quite so indifferent to politics or religion than coronavirus.
Instead we used the pandemic as another way to hate each other, another way to divide each other, another way to make America smaller, more petty. Another way to make America less great.
Donald Trump used coronavirus to divide us. On the one hand, after calling coronavirus a hoax, his administration finally got around to telling us to wear masks in its official guidelines. On the other hand, he continued to support people who rebelled against mask-wearing. He took his mask off, as if taking off a mask is a form of macho defiance, as if it was something to be proud of. And a lot of people did the same. And a lot of people died.
It’s unfortunate that the wearing of masks has become political. Many Republicans encouraged by Donald Trump think it’s okay not to wear a mask. Some Republicans refuse to wear masks at all. Some are even violent about it. Take a look at an average Trump rally and see how many people aren’t wearing masks, including Trump. Yet every time Donald Trump holds a rally, a firestorm of coronavirus is started. Many people die as a result, including Donald Trump’s personal friend Herman Kane.
Imagine if Donald Trump had started out with a consistent message that everyone should wear a mask. Imagine how different things would be. Had Trump supporters and Trump detractors all worn masks and taken precautions from the first, America might not be in the mess it’s in now. Wouldn’t that have been something?
So that’s what I mean when I ask you why you let Donald Trump decide what’s right and what’s wrong for you. There are few more patriotic things you can do right now than wear a mask. There are few more heroic things you can do as an individual, as a citizen of the United States of America than wear a mask. Especially now.
Donald Trump has taught some people that not wearing a mask is heroic and not wearing a mask is patriotic, and not wearing a mask is brave and a lot of those people believe him, even though it’s none of those things, even though it’s cowardly and divisive and stupid not to wear a mask. Even though it kills people. A lot of those people have let Donald Trump decide what’s right and what’s wrong for them. You don’t need Donald Trump to tell you that. Do you?
This could have been our finest hour. Instead, half a million Americans or more will die. And all for what? A silly little man who doesn’t want to wear a mask because it will smear his makeup.
I’ll let you in on a little secret I learned a long time ago. The opposite of hate isn’t love. The opposite of hate is compassion. And the opposite of weakness isn’t strength. The opposite of weakness is mercy. You will never be taught how to make America great again by a man who has known neither mercy nor compassion, by a man who only knows hate and only believes that everyone who doesn’t believe in him is weak.
So here’s what I’m asking of you, dear Trump Supporter, I’m asking you to do the hardest thing on earth a man or a woman could ever do. I’m asking you to do the bravest thing on earth a man or a woman could ever do. I’m asking you to admit you’re wrong. I’m asking you to change your ways, not your political party, just your ways when it comes to wearing a mask. I’m asking you to turn your back on this man who presumes to tell you what is right and what is wrong and decide for yourselves. Because Donald Trump is clearly wrong. If you can do that, then you truly are strong, you truly are brave, because a lot of people won’t understand you, and they will hate you.
Do you know what else? If you’re older than forty I’m betting that the man or woman you were twenty years ago wouldn’t recognize the man or woman you are today. I’ll bet that man or that woman would be horrified to see who you are following and what you believe and what you’ve become. This is your chance to make that man or woman you once were proud. This is your chance to make a change. This is your chance to make America great again. I hope you will. Because right now, at this minute, at this time, in this place, we really need you.
Yours very truly,
And the eight billion other human beings on planet earth.
I created a livelier version of this article in words, music and video on YouTube. It was created for the education and edification of Trump supporters who may not be persuaded by the printed word. You are encouraged to use it to proselyte any Trump supporters you may know, brothers and sisters, and you can find that video here.
The above-referenced video should quell any protests claiming I’m preaching to the choir, by placing the challenge to preach to the unconverted precisely and hopefully in your hands, brothers and sisters. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.