To my conservative friends and family members…

As our nation attempts to heal from the violent and atrocious attack on our Capitol which resulted in a horrific murder of and devastating injuries to law enforcement that were incited by the sitting President and various of his accomplices in the Republican party, we are now seeing a call from many of you to “put aside our differences” and “know your hearts.”

I will respond from the other side of the aisle. We don’t trust you. We don’t believe you. We saw your incitement towards what happened last Wednesday – the shared memes, the pride with which you voted again for a man who has engineered policies that have hurt and continue to hurt many who you claim to care about – the LGBTQ community, immigrants, refugees, the poor, people of color, the disabled. We saw every “like” and laugh emoji on social media. We saw every yard sign and bumper sticker and hat and t-shirt emblazoned with MAGA and Trump. We saw and continue to see you pushing a completely false narrative surrounding the 2020 election and the attempted coup and sharing misinformation and propaganda that has again and again been proven false and lacking any credible evidence.

We knew, the day after the 2016 election, where this country might be heading. But we didn’t want to believe it. See, back then, we took you all at your word – that we just had differences of opinions, no big deal. We saw the misinformation spread, the derogatory memes and proud “MAGA” shouts, and for the most part we “let it go” because we didn’t want to get into an argument. What we all witnessed last Wednesday was the culmination of our “letting it go” – an armed group of brainwashed, misinformed zealots attempted to overturn the results of a democratic election by any means they could, including violence. Information is coming out nearly hourly about what their plans were – to destroy electoral votes, to take members of Congress hostage, to murder those in the line of succession. Were it not for the quick thinking of various members of law enforcement and staff on site that day, the outcome may have been quite different. The sitting President and his family and supporters incited that crowd, then watched gleefully as the violence played out, refusing to order the National Guard to stop it, after having refused, through the President’s acting appointees, to place the DC National Guard on site in the first place. More information will come out, and when it does, the division among Americans will remain, because we all know that there are many who wish the coup had been successful, that Trump had become an American dictator so he could start purging “libtards” and “demoncraps” from all levels of government.

You now call for unity, but that call is several steps down the line. Before we get there, we, the majority of Americans who knew who Trump was and where our country was heading if he were able to remain in power, need and deserve acknowledgement and apologies. Just as every conservative cries for all Muslims to decry acts of Muslim terrorism and for all black Americans to answer for any black person who commits a crime, we call on our Republican and conservative friends to renounce their support of Donald Trump and his failed insurrection and to let us know that they vehemently oppose the actions that were taken on January 6, that they accept the results of the 2020 election and that they support the full and complete investigation of the events of January 6 and the ouster of any Republican who was involved in the coup plot. Anything short of this is not worthy of any of you ever being viewed as decent people again.

“But Democrat friend,” you may say, “it’s not fair for me to have to apologize when you bad-mouthed Trump for four years too.” My response, in hindsight after the events of last Wednesday: I should have bad-mouthed him more. I should have been more vocal about how misinformed all of you have been. We should have called out every single lie, every single shared and re-shared piece of propaganda, every offensive meme. “Letting it go” is what led to last Wednesday. “Being polite” is what poured fuel on the flames of cultish worship of a failed businessman and reality tv star. “Not wanting to start an argument” is what allowed the hatred of “libtards” and every Democratic politician to fester like a cancer until members of the President’s brainwashed cult violently and criminally attacked the seat of American government in an attempt to enforce their will over the wills of all the Americans who voted to remove this fascist from power.

My hope now is that we do not continue to make the same mistakes. “Alternate facts” are not facts, they are lies. Niche conservative media outlets and talking heads are not news sources, they are brainwashers and propaganda machines, and now many of them are insurrectionists and criminals. Any person, member of government and law enforcement who participated in or incited the events of last Wednesday must be weeded out, fired and prosecuted for any crimes they have committed. This is the line in the sand. Decent Americans are, with obvious reason, terrified by how close we came to seeing our nation destroyed and turned into a dictatorship. And we are just as terrified knowing by our friend’s and family member’s reactions on social media and elsewhere that many of them would have seen nothing wrong with the insurrection having been successful, even if that had meant the murder of sitting members of Congress or the Vice President.

We have all experienced trauma. We are all, understandably, feeling hurt and angry and guarded and untrusting. If our conservative friends and family mean what they say, that they think we need to “come together,” then the place to start is by letting your friends and family members know that you renounce Donald Trump and the failed coup, that you know that Joe Biden is the democratically-elected President of the United States, and that even though you may disagree with democrats and progressives politically, you do not condone or support any of the violence Trump and his supporters incited. If that is a bridge too far for you, then do not be surprised to find relationships with friends and family members deteriorating. Do not be shocked if your friends or family members who are in the LGBTQ community or who are people of color stop reaching out to you. We who have been directly affected by Donald Trump’s and his supporters’ inflammatory rhetoric are prioritizing our family members’ and loved ones’ safety, mental well being and healing over coddling people we thought we could trust but have learned over the past four years that we could not. If you are seeking trust and understanding from us, the ball is in your court.

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