I can no longer hold it in. I feel like if I don’t write these words they’re going to explode out of me and it won’t be pretty, let alone classy or effective.

Over the past four years I have been called racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, ignorant, hateful and so many other things I could fill pages.

Did I make a racist remark?

Did I say something against other women?

Or did I do something to show that there is hate in my heart?

No. I did one thing.

I voted for the current president of the United States of America.

I’ve seen every argument and read them with an open mind. In these four years, I have learned invaluable lessons about tolerance, education and what it means to be an advocate and ally for those whose lives are harder than mine because of circumstances beyond their control. I’ve sat through hours of online videos about allyship, read opinion pieces, explored the opinions of others. I’ve taken time to educate myself. And yet I am called ignorant.

The fever pitch that has been reached in the past few weeks is now unbearable. I’ve seen posts from friends who I have known for years saying “If you support Trump, we are not friends. And I mean it.” My friends should know my heart. They should know the people I have supported and held up in their own struggles. And they have seen me through my own struggles. Is my friendship that disposable? I stay up at night, evaluating my own heart. Thinking through the things I believe and say and stand for.

I stand for equal opportunity. I stand for empowering others. And I stand for applauding when glass ceilings are shattered, when odds are beaten and when underdogs prevail. I also stand for hard work. That nothing is given for free, but I understand that the circumstances of some put their starting line ahead others.

I stand for protecting our LGBT+ population. I believe in their right to get married — as does our president, by the way. Yes, I stand for their right to be safe and comfortable expressing who they are.

And then there’s the pandemic. “Donald Trump let hundreds of thousands of people die” has become a common talking point. Tell me this, at the beginning, did you expect it to be like this? When it was clear that this was different, answer me this. Should every state be treated the same? That’s what you ask for when you look for the federal government to intervene. Does it make sense for California and Wyoming to do the exact same thing to protect their citizens? Or does it make more sense that the governors of each state handle their unique situation instead of a one size fits all approach.

The federal government was never meant to be some kind of moral center for the country. The President isn’t supposed to meddle in day-to-day happenings of citizens. States exist so citizens have choices. Don’t like the laws in your state? Look around you, there are 49 others, find one that suits you.

The President has not one but two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. He’s has worked towards peace in the Middle East. As a Jew, I care deeply about the safety of Israel. President Trump knows that Israel is America’s friend, and has worked to help make it a safer country. President Trump is also fighting for a better future for Black Americans. Read through the Platinum Plan. It’s not only aspirational, it’s realistic and concrete. President Trump has worked to promote the safety and success of Native Americans.

Do I think he’s perfect? Absolutely not.

Do I think he’s everything the media loves to paint him as? I know he is not.

I know that this election held high stakes for all of us. I’m not looking to change anyone’s political opinion. I’m just asking you to respect mine.

All I ask is to stop with the blanket statements.

Stop with the soundbites and slogans that sound great on a poster.

Stop spewing hate and intolerance at people who have been your friends for years.

If you voted for Biden, you’re still my friend. Will you say the same for me even though I voted for Trump?

I can still cry at your wedding, hold your hand at a funeral, laugh over a dinner and thank God that you are in my life. If that’s not something you can do with me, that’s your call. If so, it hurts me deeply to see you go. Know that this was a one-sided decision. And even after all this, I am still here if you decide to change your mind.

Samantha Townley is a childcare professional living in San Diego, California. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2015, is a proud alumna of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. She enjoys red wine, time spent on the river and long conversations with her three cats.

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