I’m not sure if we know each other, but there’s a good chance that we’ve met. I live in the yellow house down the street with the big white steps. I’m the guy with the beard and the glasses, thinning black hair, a bit heavy set.
I ran for office last year, hoping to represent us on the City Council. I knocked on a ton of the doors in our neighborhood. Maybe I knocked on yours, and we spent a few minutes on your doorstep chatting about Portland?
Anyhow, I wanted to ask you about all of these campaign signs that you’ve put up for Donald Trump down the block from us in Woodford’s Corner.
I really wish you wouldn’t do that.
One of my roommates is an immigrant from Iraq.
He spends a lot more time in our living room watching Jason Statham movies than he does going to mosque, but he still proudly identifies as a Muslim. He doesn’t eat pork. He’s humble and spiritual. And kind.
He hasn’t had the easiest time finding a good job here in our community, but he works his ass off. Always has a big smile. He’s got high standards of cleanliness and sometimes he nags us when he feels like he’s doing more than his share of the housework, but he never really complains.
He always pays rent on time.
Before he moved to Maine, he risked his life to help American soldiers in Iraq, working as a translator for the US military. He was lucky enough to come to the states on a temporary student visa.
Now he can’t go home. ISIS controls his home town, and they practically killed his mom. They’d kill him too.
But Homeland Security still won’t give him a green card.
They just keep renewing his visa every year, taking thousands of dollars from him and offering him nothing in the way of actual security or citizenship.
Your signs are a slap in his face.
Trump wants people like him out. Says we should ban them from ever coming into our country in the first place. Trump wants you to hate my roommate. To fear him.
Have you even met him? He’s your neighbor. I am too.
A couple that I’m friends with in our neighborhood just had a baby girl a few months ago.
Cutest little thing. I remember going down to Mercy Hospital and visiting them in the maternity ward. They were glowing. She’s their first.
It must be terrifying to bring new lives into this world. Especially baby girls.
By the time she’s old enough to talk, she’ll have seen thousands of airbrushed pictures of models. Like all of us, there’s a good chance she’ll pick up some ridiculous standards of what her body should look like when she grows up.
Will she end up among the 18% of Maine teenage girls who “seriously consider” suicide? How old will she be the first time some creep texts her a dick pick? Will she ever truly feel safe walking home at night by herself?
Your signs are compounding that terror.
As we all learned last week, Trump believes that when you’re a star, you can just start kissing whomever you want. You can grab women. You can treat them like meat at the butcher’s, selecting your favorite choice cuts of flesh.
This is the mindset of a sexual predator.
These are the thoughts that go through a man’s head before he slips a roofie into a teenage girl’s red plastic Solo cup of cheap keg beer at a frat party.
As grownups, we have an obligation not just to call out and condemn this kind of behavior but to do whatever we can to smash this entire mindset. Especially us men.
But, instead, you’re celebrating it.
You’re blasting Trump’s misogyny loud and clear, over and over again, up and down the big intersection just down the street from us.
And you’re probably attacking other people in our neighborhood too.
Maybe there’s a woman who had a few too many Long Island iced teas in the Old Port a couple years ago and ended up getting knocked up.
Thanks to Roe v. Wade, she’s had the right to keep moving forward with her life. Trump’s made it clear that he wants to take that right away from her and would appoint supreme court justices who strongly oppose abortion.
Maybe there’s a guy on our block struggling to get a small business off the ground installing solar panels.
Trump wants to green light the Keystone XL pipeline, flooding the energy market with tar sands, one of the most toxic forms of energy ever discovered. Sure it’ll poison people, but it’d be cheap. How’s our neighbor supposed to compete with that?
I love our neighborhood.
We’ve got recovered heroin addicts who’ve done years of hard time up at Windham and Warren.
We need more money set aside for folks like that to go to treatment. It scares me to see so many of our nation’s most brutal police officers rallying so passionately behind Trump.
We’ve got families from all over the world. Same sex couples. Transgender people. Folks with disabilities. Senior citizens. And tons of college students and twenty somethings anxiously setting out into a world of increasing uncertainty and risk.
This essay isn’t about telling you whom you ought to vote for.
It’s about those signs you put up down the street from us and what they represent.
It’s about the vision you’re promoting.
What would you like our country to look like in five years? What would you like our neighborhood to look like?
Should ICE kidnap my roommate? Should Trump’s cronies be allowed to grope my friends’ daughter? Should folks who need help be able to get it? Should we all become bullies?
Unfortunately for you, there are still grownups around here who care about each other. You might be loud, but you don’t get to call the shots here. We do. And we won’t let you win. This is our community.