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Monday, August 21, 2017

The windowsill over my kitchen sink is an altar of sorts, full of small framed photos of our grandchildren and other mementos to keep me grateful.

The square ceramic tile leaning against the window started out with the painted names of our immediate family. It has since flowered to include the names of additional loved ones etched in various colors of Sharpie.

The red Matchbox car was a gift from my son, who stuck it in my Christmas stocking in my early single-mother days as a promise that one day I, too, would drive a car in my favorite color. He was right, and I do.

A recent addition is a white, palm-sized origami swan. After a speech I gave in December, 12-year-old Chéthan Chandra walked up to me and, with the gentlest of smiles, held out a little black box with a silver bow.

“I made this for you,” he said.

Chéthan is a triplet, and I’ve known his family for years, but that moment — that gift — moved me in a way I didn’t see coming. Like much of post-election America, I was feeling the weight of what loomed ahead, but staring at that delicate swan in my palm, and then looking into the face of that beautiful boy, I was transported. I stood in the eye of the hurricane, awash with a sense of calm.

This may seem like an odd way to begin a column about those of you who voted for Donald Trump, but I have my reasons. If you know these small things about my life, maybe you’ll hang with me here a little longer.

For months now, I’ve been hearing and reading about how those of us who didn’t support Trump need to understand those of you who did. We must listen to you, the argument goes. We must understand your anger.

I’m reaching my saturation point with this one-sided conversation, because it is always framed as a threat. Figure out why so many of my fellow Americans supported Trump, or lose more elections. This is an argument for political ambition, not reconciliation.

I don’t want to mock or ridicule you, but I also don’t want to pretend that my objections are irrelevant. Many of you Trump supporters regularly write to ask why I won’t give him a chance. I want to know how you can continue to tolerate a man so needy that, even as president, he requires campaign rallies full of cheering throngs to keep his ego afloat.

If being president doesn’t fulfill his need to feel important, what will? Doesn’t the answer to that scare you?

I don’t want to coddle you, in the thin hope that this will coax out your regret for electing the most dangerous man to ever inhabit the White House. This would do nothing to mitigate the harm Trump is daily inflicting on this country.

Even The Wall Street Journal‘s ultra-conservative editorial board has had its fill of Trump’s malignant behavior. Consider their response to Trump’s persistent lie that President Obama wiretapped his phones: “(T)he President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.”

That’s the image of our president, projected to the world.

His approval rating here in this country continues to plummet. A new Gallup Poll shows that only 37 percent still support him — a new low even for Trump. Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing. This, during what is normally the honeymoon period for new presidents.

I don’t celebrate those numbers, but I won’t apologize for them either. I’ve reached a point where I think it’s time for you to try to understand people like me, who are doing everything we can to limit the harm of this dangerous man.

Like you, I love my family and my friends.

Like you, I love my country, too.

We have this in common, you and I, no matter who is president. I’m trying always to remember that.

Every morning, I walk to that window in my kitchen. I look at those little framed photos, and I study Chéthan’s swan. For just a moment, I stand in the eye of the hurricane, and I am calm. It’s enough.