A Letter To My Conservative Relatives

Hello family! I hope you are as well as can be right now.

I’m sending this to my family members who I’ve shared a table with at holidays, and danced to Motown music with post-dinner, and opened White Elephant Christmas gifts together, and known my entire life.

I know some of you may be planning to vote for Trump. I realize any email starting out with that sentence probably makes you not want to read the rest of what I have to say. I get it.

So, I will try to keep this email as much to the point as I can — and not about being a Republican or a Democrat.

I understand we all have political differences for wanting to vote for Biden or Trump. I know politics are normally taboo discussion amongst family members with different political views.

I know that both sides last night in the debate interrupted each other and name-called, and it was ugly and hard to watch. But I feel there were three specific red-lines crossed last night that have nothing to do with politics, but are about integrity and character and the way my mother and father raised me to treat human beings.

My conscience urges me to share how I feel about this with my family. The three things that were not ok last night were:

1. You don’t insult and belittle a father in the midst of talking about his son who died. You stop, and you listen to that person’s loss. We have all lost someone we care about, and you acknowledge the shared humanity and love of family in that moment, before you go back to your differences.

2. You don’t sow doubt about the legitimacy of an election a month before the election takes place. You don’t claim that there is no way the presidential election could be conducted without fraud — without any legitimate proof of election fraud. You don’t question the fundamental nature of a peaceful transition of power — which our entire democracy rests on.

3. You don’t refuse to condemn white supremacy when given the chance to do so and you don’t tell a white supremacist group to “stand back and stand by” — to the point that this hate-group celebrates what you said post-debate.

None of this is ok. That last one, especially, is not ok. It is not ok. You could say Trump didn’t mean it, but he has dog-whistled like this time and time again all the way back to saying, “There’s fine people on both sides” in response to a hate group with Nazi sympathies.

To me, this is not about politics. This is about decency, dignity, empathy — the basic tenets I believe in a human being. These are three areas that I hope we can all agree on as family members. I am not writing to discuss political or policy differences. We have a right to respectfully disagree on those. I am only writing to you about these three grossly immoral moments that disturbed me to my core and frightened the hell out of me.

To me, they alone disqualify any possible candidate for the highest office in one of the oldest democracies in the world.

I don’t know if my email will change your mind for those who want to vote for Trump, but please know it comes from the bottom of my heart, and if we ever dialogue about this election, these are three areas I will never budge an inch on — they are non-negotiable to me. They speak to what our family values and what we want to teach future members of this family.

You don’t insult someone sharing a moment of pain and loss.

You don’t refuse to honor a peaceful transition of power.

You don’t refuse to condemn hatred.

I know an email isn’t the best way to communicate about deeply sensitive topics like this, but I wanted to try and lay out how deeply I feel this right now and how important this is to me.

If you want to respond to me, I welcome it — if not, that’s totally fine also. I chose to BCC this email out of respect for people’s inboxes.

I wish you well in really trying times, and thank you for reading.


Photo Credit: MPR News

Performer, storyteller, teacher - living in NYC and traveling worldwide (www.philipmarkle.com). Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Comedy Collective.

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