Growing up in the Panhandle of Texas (Amarillo to be specific), I spent my childhood around some great friends, most of whom I later learned were probably Republicans. Then, moving to central Illinois while in high school, I made many other really good friends. And again, as time went by, I learned that many of them were also Republicans. After high school, I came to central Texas to attend the University of Texas, and like many UT graduates, I chose to remain here and so have spent nearly 52 years in this part of the state. And yes, even here in Austin I have made friends with some who call themselves Republicans.
As a life-long Democrat, it would be so easy to just write off all the Republican friends from the past and present. And yet?
I think back to all the Presidential elections that I have participated in as a registered voter. Starting with the McGovern/Nixon election of 1972, and going up through the Clinton/Trump election of 2016. From 1972 until today, 5 Republicans have been elected President, for a total of 28 years; 3 Democrats for a total of 20 years. With the exception of 1980 – 1992, it has usually been one party holding the office for a couple of terms, followed by the other party. And the United States came out most of the time as a pretty decent country to call home. While I often disagreed with the policies put forth by the Republicans, I usually understood that their leader was a pretty decent person who had the best interests of the country in mind, at least most of the time. Same for the Democrats.
Until, 2016 and Donald Trump came along. It is no use to write up all the self-serving lies he has told in the past 4 years. These have been reported on constantly in the press, which of course he continues to denigrate. Nor is it any use to repeat the many ways he puts his own self interest above that of the country. Everyone who follows what has been going on can see that, but unfortunately many of them refuse to acknowledge this. And his ugly rhetoric? What else should I say? So, it would be easy to just write them all off. And yet?
What I would like to do is invite my Republican friends to treat Trump the same way they treated Hillary Clinton 4 years ago. That is, to decide that the character of the person is not worthy of holding the highest office in the United States. Fortunately, this kind of decision making has been happening among quite a number of well known Republicans in the past few weeks and months. While those who have begun separating themselves from Trump may not be able to bring themselves to vote for a Democrat, at least they will be willing to not vote for Trump. And, by the way, in my way of thinking at least, it seems like Joe Biden is a pretty decent guy, so I would hope that some Republicans will actually see that he is worth voting for. My thinking is that I can understand why many Republicans and even centrist Democrats voted against Hillary Clinton in 2016. I didn’t agree with that thinking, but I could understand it. But, for them to continue to support Trump after what he has done the past 4 years is unforgivable, in my opinion. So, to my friends who voted for him in 2016 and will vote for him again this year, I can’t bring myself to forgive you. And yet?
So, 2020 comes along. I can think back to my first Presidential election, when I canvassed for and voted for George McGovern. If I remember correctly, he lost 49 states; the electoral map was almost completely red. The reverse of that is what should happen this fall. I realize it won’t, but my hope is that my own state of Texas will vote against Trump, and if so maybe many other red dominoes will turn blue.
Finally, to my Republican friends (and yes, there are quite a few over my lifetime), I am pleading with you to go a different route in November. Please do not vote nor support Donald Trump. I can’t forgive you if you do.
And yet? Yes, I will still be a friend, but our relationship will be strained. My hope is that you will think long and hard when you vote. I’m not asking you to become a Democrat (although I wish you would). I’m just asking that, for this time in your life, you will actually put the good of our country above that of a really despicable human being.
Marvin Wofford, a resident of Austin, Texas, is a former resident of Rantoul.