September 20, 2019

What Trump’s Comment about Cokie Roberts’ death Reminded me of my Midwestern Values.

The recent death of respected and celebrated, veteran journalist, Cokie Roberts, and Trump’s subsequent comment, sent me into a tizzy.

How dare he make her death about him. How dare he! Of all his egregious statements and behaviors—a list, sadly, not fully written—speaking ill of Cokie Roberts following her death stands out as one of the most reprehensible.

Here’s the deal: We are better than this, all of us, including those who voted for him. I grew up in a tiny farming community in southern Illinois, on a farm founded by my Irish and German immigrant ancestors in the late 1850s. A rich tradition of community exists there, built on generations of friendship, honesty, and integrity. I moved away 40 years ago, but the spirit of the community is imbued in my soul.

Many of those kind, generous, loving friends and neighbors likely voted for Trump. Their choice was multi-faceted, weighing pros and cons, with perceived preservation of their lifestyle and long-term benefits to their children and grandchildren, paramount. They are good people, good neighbors—the proverbial salt of the earth.

The Midwest is often derided as flyover country, its people stereotyped as ultra-conservative, uneducated, simple country hicks. The reality is, many—perhaps most—Midwesterners are well-educated, kind, friendly, don’t know a stranger, and are apt to wave and share warm smiles with anyone they meet. Being from the Midwest has always been a source of pride for me.

Those of us who forged our dissent against Trump as a candidate don’t need to be reminded of his crass ineptitude. This is for those who weighed the alternatives and felt he was the right choice.

Don’t let Trump purport to be your voice. I know who you are; you are nothing like him. You are compassionate, you are kind, you are thoughtful, you love your families, your children and grandchildren mean everything to you, you have a sense of humor, you are humble. You would not choose Trump as a neighbor, you would not sell your ground to him, nor would you trust him. Most of all, you would never publicly speak ill of the deceased.

To whatever degree you feel he has delivered on promises he made, be assured there are other candidates, Republicans and Democrats, who can deliver their promises without snagging the moral fabric of humanity and alienating the world. Politics aside, it is an issue of morality, basic human goodness, common courtesy, decency, regardless of party affiliation.

Many people in the community where I was raised have known hardship, scarcity, uncertainty—weather, crop prices—tariffs! Trump, born into wealth and every advantage one can imagine, basks in self-aggrandizement, paying lip service to his base—he is as far from the common man as he is from a good man. He has neither insight nor interest in what it feels like to struggle. His fragile ego informs every decision he makes and every word he speaks.

This is for everyone. Stop comparing Trump to a petulant child; it’s insulting to children. Children are forever learning, growing, exploring, attempting to make sense of their worlds. Trump, not so much. He is a grown man who chooses to be an insensitive bully, catering to anyone who advances his agenda for self-promotion and financial gain.

We are all better than him, and we deserve better than him. He has shown his true colors; your choice can now be based on fact, not hype.

Speak for yourself, speak for your values. Vote your conscience, not your party.


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