To Friends & Family Considering Trump

Image: The White House, photo by skeeze on

Normally I just go about my business teaching Basic Judaism but today I’d like to write specifically to readers who follow this blog and who may be considering voting for Donald Trump in November. Some of you are related to me by blood or marriage; some of you are old friends. Some of you may be my students.

I grew up in Tennessee, in a family of Republicans, and I get it that from the right-wing point of view my liberal opinions seem illogical. I accept that we see things differently. I honor those differences, because I believe that it is in the disagreements that democracy does its best work, pushing and pulling to find the best way for everyone.

I need for you to hear, though, that this election year is scaring the living daylights out of me and many people I love. We are genuinely afraid that a man who admires and is admired by dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un may be elected. We are completely unnerved by the company he keeps. He is coy about white supremacist organizations, refusing to dissociate himself from them. Those organizations promote hatred of people who aren’t white, people who are Jews, people who are different. I am a lesbian Jew and I am not sleeping nights. Linda and I have a great-niece who is transgender, and she is terrified. I’ll let Jessica speak for herself, since she gave me permission:

I hear that Donald Trump is doing even better now that Bernie Sanders has been beaten. I guess a Trump presidency is looking more and more realistic… I hate to say… He may just win this election…

That being said, I researched immigration laws and other things in Canada. I come to find out that it’s a PAIN IN THE ASS to emigrate to Canada if you’re an American without a career and an American at risk for homelessness. It’s almost an impossible task for a poor and no career woman like myself to accomplish. Perhaps Mexico would be a better option? I know a ton of people that live there already.

I hate the feeling of me turning my back on my country of birth but I know without a shadow of a doubt that if Trump wins the election, my entire life as I know it will change for the worst. My civil rights are sure to be targeted (as an LGBT member), my only support for food (of which I cannot afford on my own) will be eliminated, my ability to obtain a good paying job might be an issue, and my sense of safety will be in jeopardy.

Donald Trump is a sharp and deadly guillotine blade that is ready to sever my head from my shoulders. I don’t want to stick around when the blade drops but I am shackled and can’t move.

So, my fellow American citizens, when you vote this season please vote SENSIBLY. Think of others when you vote; consider the needs of people who need help and who cannot make it on their own, consider the people who need an equal chance at success as the successful people had, consider the little person.

If you are thinking to yourself that a “poor and no career woman” has only herself to blame, stop right there. Jessica works hard every day at a job many of us wouldn’t take because she wants to better herself. Transwomen have a terrible time finding an employer willing to hire them even if they “pass.” I have known transwomen with engineering degrees and prior careers who found that everything turned to dust the day they began living as women. So just stop that. Trust me, she’s an upstanding citizen who is doing well in her circumstances.

As I told Jessica when I saw her facebook post, Linda and I are concerned, too. There is a hateful edge to this campaign that scares me in a way that no previous campaign has ever done. Under the Law of Return, Linda and I could move to Israel if life became untenable here as LGBTQ Jews, but we won’t. We are proud Americans, proud Californians, and we aren’t going anywhere, because we love this country and it is our home. If Trump is elected we will stay put and fight to keep America the place where all people have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

We are worried, partly because of Mr. Trump, but even more because of his associations and connections, and the violence he has encouraged among his followers. Even George Wallace did not encourage his followers to “beat up” people who disagreed with what he had to say. Even he did not heap scorn on Americans who had been POW’s and on Gold Star parents.

I am begging you, conservative friends, if you care at all about the two of us, think really hard about your vote. I grew up conservative. Trump isn’t any kind of conservative I recognize. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan did not encourage violence at their rallies. They didn’t make fun of disadvantaged people. They sure as heck didn’t admire dictators, and dictators didn’t admire them.

If you can’t stand Hillary, I understand that. I couldn’t stand voting for Senator Ted Cruz. I think if it were between him and Trump as a Democrat, I’d just have to abstain. But that’s it: I’d abstain before I voted for Trump, no matter what party he belonged to. I’m begging you to consider abstaining, or voting for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.

Ultimately your vote is your private business, but when you vote this year, think about those you admire in U.S. history, and compare Mr. Trump’s behavior to theirs.

P.S. – As John Scalzi says on his excellent blog, “The Mallet is out.” Please avoid name-calling in the comments, even if you are quite sure that the person you want to name-call really IS a “doodoo head” or whatever it is. I will delete messages that name-call or make ad hominem attacks.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

19 thoughts on “To Friends & Family Considering Trump”

  1. I have been a Democrat my entire life and a proud Hillary supporter. I’ve only bumped into a couple of supporters of he-who-shall-not-be-named ( it’s Harry Potter’s birthday so I find this appropriate). I have a difficult time discussing anything with them. I went to the headquarters for Hillary on Thursday night to watch the amazing acceptance speech. I plan to make calls and have already made donations. By the way, I just read this evening that Tim Kaine is a very big supporter of Israel!

    Pamela Fender Author Beside Myself-Recovery From My Family Betrayal and Estrangement-A Memoir


  2. I appreciate your comments and share your perspective. I stuggled with the question of supporting Bernie or Hillary but am supporting HRC.
    You and I have a different point of view on voting for third party candidate. From my perspective, a third-party candidate helps Donald Trump become president. Even though most predictions show Hillary currently has a higher chance of winning the presidency than Trump, if we’ve learned anything from #Brexit, it’s that basing your vote on assumptions isn’t the healthiest move . As friends in the UK have pointed out “Remember ‘that guy ‘ from Britain who didn’t vote on Brexis because he thought it wouldn’t matter”? I’d stick to the time tested logic of voting for Hillary to do my part in racking up the votes in North Carolina to elect her rather than Trump.

    Betty Rider

    1. Betty, I am only suggesting a 3rd party candidate to those for whom any Democratic candidate would be unacceptable. I agree with you and my effort from here on out will be to get the vote out for Secretary Clinton. You are quite right.

  3. I feel for Jessica. I hope that she can convince her friends and family one by one to act responsively for America and that the months ahead in campaigning will give us all hope and above all the proper tools to reverse what has been done leading to an unfathomable nomination of a candidate who is clearly unfit for the office of the Presidency of one of the biggest nations of the world.

    However, as concerned as I am, and as persuaded we hold a serious responsibility in all that we say and publish, I would as seriously point out that scary tactics have worked well in one direction and we have to be wary on how to use them properly: I believe that those who are sympathetic to the rights of every individual and prepared to fight for them will support her call but I am very worried that the current trend helps to publicize every single outrageous move and action of a man, who I agree should not be constantly named because it reinforces his importance and presence in the mind of people who do not want to take the time to go deeper in their hearts to understand where their basic emotions and reactions come from.

    I find it extremely difficult to have discussions with those who will support the GOP’s nominee but I know that it is important to have them, and see what their decision stems from because if we find what their values truly are, then they can hear how they do not align with the choice they are making. But I also find that some of them truly hold values that deny respect of others because of their race, religion, gender, faith, identity and are as scared as we are to be losing their white male privileges and have found a champion that they can identify with. I do not know how to talk to these scared individuals because of the violence that seems to be unleashed from their scare.

    I am really hoping that at each level of organization, our leaders will take a stand and not stay neutral because as much as I believe in individual responsibility, I am counting on those who have authority in their circle, these conversations have to be had, and not left to social media and worse of all to mainstream media which I see as partly responsible for the rise of the man in the first place, because they gave him so much of the power of publicity that he was seeking and will continue to do so for the sake of ratings and “entertainment”: the more outrageous he is, the more they cover him instead of focusing on the real issues as Americans are actually facing them on a daily basis.

    I need to learn how to talk to people who are scared and to hear what they are scared of because I know that their anguish can take such ugly forms not only from my knowledge of History but also from looking at different areas of this universe which we despise and ignore most of the time.

    Sorry for the long rant… I could not stop myself ~ I must be feeling safe here.

    1. Thank you for your trust, Otir. My own feeling is that conversation is helpful with some conservatives who are as repelled by the candidate’s language and behavior as are we. There are other people whose minds are closed. Other than writing this message, I’m going to concentrate my efforts on “getting out the vote” among those who don’t like Trump but who don’t feel strongly enough about Secretary Clinton to get to the polls. It’s critical that we all show up in November.

  4. As a young man I learned about neighbors who put on the star when their Jewish neighbors were forced to do so in Europe. I have worn one combined with a cross the rest of my life. It reminds me as much as anyone else that there is no “us” and “them.”
    (I would probably add a symbol for Islam if there was one acceptable to that faith, and understand that the star is not a literal symbol of Judaism either. But, it is the one chosen to bring hate, so I wear it out of love.)
    A few times I have been subjected to intimidation by people who thought that I was Jewish (always knowing I could take it off if I wanted).
    Several times I have met very angry people insulted by my wearing it with a cross. Each time after listening to their reasons and stories, I was blessed by rich conversations with people I would not have met without it.
    It is a lifelong promise that any time and any place society divides up “us” as better than “them,” I choose “them.” I believe that God does.
    Raised as a very conservative Christian, I believe the NT texts the current evangelicals claim to follow clearly state that the one they call Savior did the same.
    I had started to leave it at home out of dismay over many things now promoted in the name of the cross.
    But now, my necklace is on every time I go out.
    I have changed my FB icon to the same symbol.
    I will never bow to hate.
    I will speak everywhere I find ears to hear about the cancer of bigotry.
    I pray for all those who are frightened with good reason by what we have become and failed to become.
    I thank you for sharing this reminder that to millions of people in this country for a variety of reasons there is nothing funny about what is happening.
    We must be better.

  5. Dear Rabbi Ruth,
    Thank you for your warning and for including Jessica’s words, allowing her to write in her own voice. These are indeed perilous times, and this is a very significant election. Trump does indeed represent the principle of might makes right, and if he were president, he would damage our country and the world.

    With respect (and you know that I respect and love you as a colleague without reservation), I do not agree with one statement in this post. You write that Ronald Reagan did not admire dictators. But he did. He admired Somoza and Pinochet and the very worst of the worst of all the brutal dictators in this hemisphere. In the name of fighting for democracy against communism, he gave direct aid to evil dictators who crushed all manifestations of democracy in their country with repression and torture–sometimes, as was the case in Argentina, with special animus directed toward Jews.

    Donald Trump would have admired many of those same people, had he been paying the slightest attention to politics at the time, which of course, being the dilettante that he is, he didn’t.

    With our accustomed respect and affection,
    Rabbi Robin Podolsky

  6. Before heading north to Canada consider the Oath of Allegiance for new citizens. “I, ……….., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors.”

    You fought for your Independence to get away from the tyranny of the monarchy. Do you really want to be a serf again? Every politician, judge, police officer must make this Oath. There is no mention of Canada or our Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Oath. Remember to the Queen of England is the commander-in-chief for the Canadian armed forces.

  7. as important as the Presidency is, who is in our Congress is at least as important and that’s where we need to put open minded, civil, people of integrity so that the laws that are formulated serve all Americans as best as we can manage. thank you, Rabbi Adar for encouraging us to stand up to hateful behavior.

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