Dear Donald, hate is NOT an American value.

We’ve all heard Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again.” We’ve also heard, over and over again, that in order to fulfill this promise and “restore” American virtue, some people must pay the price. Whether Muslims or Mexicans, the politicians or corporations, everyone is to blame and hate is allowed. Scratch that, hate is encouraged. Hate is an American value.  

He wants you to get mad, he wants you to blame “the establishment” and he wants you to blame the people that “don’t belong.” He even goes as far to blatantly ridicule his own voter base and supporters...and they continue to turn out in droves. Why? Why do people rally around Trump in spite of their own economic, social, racial, and historical interests?  Simply put, they think he is “tough.”           

Make no mistake; Trump is not tough. He does not represent American virtue (nor is he in any position to restore it). How do I know? I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having been to prison. I was there for 3 years, so I’d like to think I know when someone is tough. I’ve seen real life “tough guys” in action. Trump wants you to believe he is one of those bold outlaw types, unafraid of a fight. But Trump is a coward. Because he punches below his weight; no real tough guy ever picks on those that can’t defend themselves. He likes to tell people they’re a “pussy” but he looks only for the easy targets. He picks on the weak and disenfranchised; he represents nothing but false bravado and blames everyone else for the countries problems.

For a bit more background, I sing in a punk band, Time Again. Over the last two decades, I have performed in more 20 countries. Despite my success, I also know something about living on the fringes. Formerly incarcerated and covered in tattoos, I don’t fit into the perfect white Anglo-Saxon Protestant America that Trump believes our country should be (or ever was), and I am proud of that. I am proud that I can pursue my dreams and goals, despite what I look like, where I come from, or what religion I practice. No matter what degree of personal success I have or will achieve, I stand for the underdog in everything I do. I don’t want success at the expense of someone else or because someone had to get “out of my way” so I could get ahead.

Now we see cities getting shut down, people being arrested, and fights breaking out at his rallies. This is disgusting. Trump supporters are trying to restore something, but it’s an abstract perversion of an America that never was.  We are NOT a white nation, and I say this as a white man.  We are NOT a Christian nation, and I say this as someone raised a Catholic. These are not the things that define America or what the Constitution protects. We are a nation of all colors, of all religions…and all nationalities. We should be fighting tooth and nail not only for Muslims to come AND stay here, but for people of all religions to come here. We should be fighting for all races and genders and people of any sexual orientation. America is a lot of things, but it is not hate. The America I know, and want restored, proclaims “hey everyone, you are all welcome here.” You are welcome here to be who you want to be, without judgment, without hate, and we will to fight with you to achieve that.  This is America.