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Oct 29, 2020

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. ~Maya Angelou

I was once friends with a woman who had a meltdown, followed by a dramatic exit, every time she found a long blond hair in her boyfriend’s bathtub. It went on for years. Over and over, I had to remind her, “You guys aren’t exclusive, remember? In fact," I’d say, “he told you the first time you went out with him that he didn’t want a monogamous commitment. You agreed to date him anyway. So basically you guys have a non-monogamous relationship, which means he’s technically not cheating.”

I understood her pain, but not her unwillingness to hear what he was saying. Which never changed.

Something similar is happening right now on a national level, it seems to me. Donald Trump told all of us who he was before he got elected. The Access Hollywood tape, among other evidence, confirmed it. Yet many of us didn’t believe him.

A still photo from the infamous 2005 "Access Hollywood" video.

Some of the Democrats I know heard the words he uttered yet thought he was speaking “off the cuff.” Or they thought yes, he’s a playboy and a scammer, but once he’s in the Presidency, for heaven’s sake, he’ll straighten up. They didn’t vote for him, but nor did they imagine, in their wildest nightmares, that they were actually only seeing a glimpse of his character defects.

Of the people voted for him, some now admit they had doubts all along. But maybe they believed he’d change, or was not fully articulating his intentions, or his worldview.

It just makes me wonder: how many of us have entered into relationships thinking “She doesn’t mean it” or “He’ll change”? And what did we learn from that?

See, people really do mean what they say. And no, they’re not changing.

And if they become President, they will have the full power of the United States government to turn their statements into policies and actions. On a grand scale. On a worldwide scale, in fact.

When Donald Trump told us he had bone spurs that prevented him from doing military service, didn’t that presage his hiding in a bunker during the demonstrations this summer?

When we learned he’d spent his career cheating creditors and contractors, should we have been surprised to find out recently how much he’s been cheating the IRS?

When he proved himself incapable of managing the fortune he inherited, didn’t it also follow that he would drive up the national debt? That having been at the receiving end of undeserved handouts all this life, whether from his father or from banks, he would feel he had a right to help himself and his friends to relief aid meant for the people?

A lot of individuals are bad at facing the truth, it seems. Are societies any better?

My friend eventually broke up with her boyfriend. But she never stopped mourning what could have been. Her friends, including me, were unable to convince her that the monogamy, per se, wasn’t the problem. The problem was her unwillingness to hear him. Masochist, meet sadist.

Yes, many of us didn’t vote for Trump. But many did, and some of them still support him. Americans have this idea that we are highly self-respecting, that we control our leaders and they are answerable to us, and that we elect people for rational reasons.

I wonder if any of that is true anymore.

My hope is that in November, we make what my mom used to call “a nice clean break with that guy.”

I hope we tell him, “No, we’re not coming back. Yes, we should have listened when you told us who you were.

Who you still are.

Who you will surely keep right on being.

"Have a nice life.”

Or as a wise woman I know once said, we don’t have to hate him. But we also don’t have to date him.

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