Respectfully Offered

I originally posted the material below in 2016. I began a list of all the reasons I’m reposting it now, then deleted the list because it expands itself daily, people I respect are saying it better than I, and I think the first version still pretty much covers it.

In my travels I have made many acquaintances who have enriched my life. One of them is currently serving as an official representative of the Republican party. I recently sent that individual the following letter. In the version below I have redacted two identifying items.

I post this version publicly (as followup to my post of June 6, 2016) knowing full well it could lead to some headaches. But others are bearing far worse.

October 12, 2016

Dear _____:

Thank you for your correspondence of October 11 in which you state that in your position as a representative of the Republican Party you endorse and support Donald Trump to serve as President of the United States of America. I submit this letter to you in the context of your position in the party, as distinguished from your position as _______, in which capacity I am glad to have you!

I don’t like discussing politics in public. One comment, then it’s all puke and flame throwers. Plus my debating skills are the equivalent of a sugar cube in a car wash. I make mistakes. I say the wrong thing. I am a middle-of-the-road wobbler.

When it comes to character, I am no exemplar. I am a man of faults and failings both public and private. As such I submit this letter in a spirit of humility.

But humility does not preclude resolve.

The Republican Party’s support of Donald Trump is more than a betrayal of principle; it is an abdication of principle. To accept or promulgate the proposition that he is of character and qualification to be entrusted with the most precious position of power in this country requires a willing suspension of disbelief usually reserved for the outermost fringes of experimental theater.

Everything the party purports to hold dear—the idea of the self-made person, of bootstraps, of Christ-like civility and humility, of the value of character, of the value of values—is rotted hollow by this candidate. He has intimidated the leadership into a world of equivocation, capitulation, averted gazes, and impotent appeasement. The party has been reduced to hope and mollification, while reassuring us every other news cycle that all is well despite what we see and hear.

There exists a vanload of reasons to oppose this man. For the sake of us getting on with our lives, I’ll choose just one: My family includes immigrants. I’m not talking in some sepia-toned generational abstraction here. I am talking about those with whom we gather for Christmas. Or any given Sunday afternoon. For me to pretend Donald Trump’s comments on race and immigration are innocuous hyperbole would require me to deny that my family es mi familia.

I don’t know how the election will go. That is not the point. I am willing to stand on the losing side if that is what is demanded of me. Whatever the outcome I will continue to be an American citizen grateful for the geographical accident of my birth, doing the best I can with what I am given and what I can get. There is an ever-renewing, multi-hued, multi-voiced America out there that is finally being given the chance (and doing the endless hard work required) to emerge and be heard. This movement will not be perfect. It will not always be pretty. And it will not always win. But I will be pleased to state for the record that rather than bend my knee and dip my gaze before a retrograde fraud, I will stand with those in this country who operate with bright eyes cast forward.

Thank you for the respectful and forthright manner in which you have communicated with me regarding this matter. I have no interest in litigating it further. There are those of my acquaintance–friends, neighbors, and relatives–who respectfully disagree with my position. I look forward to continuing to be a friend, neighbor, and relative. Down here at ground level we can’t afford the luxury of dismissing each other out of contempt.


Michael Perry

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