A letter to the person leaving the FUCK BIDEN stickers at Starbucks
(I think it’s safe to assume “Sir.” I hate to stereotype, and a lot of women have risen to prominence with confrontational tactics recently, but it seems more likely that a man did this. Maybe you’re the person I once saw in this Starbucks who was telling his daughter the government had implemented “social justice scores” and then got mad at me when I Googled it, saying you didn’t ask to fact-checked. Or maybe not.)
I’m not going to try to convince you to vote for Biden in 2024. I’m not even going to try to convince you to vote for Democrats in 2022.
After all, you’re not trying to convince anyone to vote a certain way, either. “FUCK BIDEN AND FUCK YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM” isn’t an argument, per se. It’s simply unfocused anger.
I’m guessing you’re posting this sticker on the Starbucks drive-thru bollard — for the third time, as of this morning — because you feel that you’ve been left out of the political power structure. You’re a minority — nationally, and certainly here in Northern Virginia. Biden’s approval ratings are low, but that’s a measure of the public’s disappointment in him, not their hatred.
And perhaps you feel compelled to do this after your candidate, the former president, has been publicly shamed and disgraced. He was twice impeached. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that his vanity, lack of empathy, and lack of intellectual curiosity led to a disastrous presidency and then a violent attempt to slash the heart of democracy. Perhaps you think he’s been unfairly accused. Perhaps you regret supporting him.
So you’re upset that people hate Donald Trump. A majority of people. A substantial majority of people.
But here’s a surprise for you:
We don’t hate you.
I’m making a few assumptions here. I assume you’re not a Proud Boy or an Oath Keeper or a white supremacist. I assume you don’t wish violence upon gay people. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t see these stickers as a sign of blind hatred.
I think you feel lost.
Maybe it’s difficult for you to wrap your head around the way society is changing. It’s more diverse, and even if you’re OK with people of color or LGBTQ+ people in the abstract, you no longer feel culturally at ease with everyone around you. It’s OK. That’s normal. I’ve attended basketball games in which I was one of maybe five white people in the gym. I’ve been at a dinner table in which the majority of people at the table were lesbians. No matter how well-intended you are, it’s an adjustment. It takes time. I grew up as a conservative Christian who feared diversity. I’ve learned that it’s a wonderful feeling to embrace it.
Maybe you’re concerned about inflation. That’s also OK. Paying more for groceries and gas is inconvenient for some but forces a lot of people to make difficult decisions with their money. It eats into their savings. All I can tell you is that inflation is complicated, and the world’s top economists have a lot of different takes on why it’s happening and how to stop it. It’s nothing Joe Biden is doing intentionally to hurt you. If he could snap his fingers and stop it, he would.
Now here’s the flip side. We are scared. Donald Trump could’ve snapped his fingers and stopped a riot that caused some people to die and caused many more to be injured and traumatized. He didn’t. The people who walked the streets of Charlottesville chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” before one of their own drove a car into a crowd and killed someone could’ve snapped their fingers and stopped the violence. They didn’t. The people placing refugees in cases and separating them from their families could snap their fingers and stop it.
They didn’t. They aren’t.
Sometime in the past couple of decades, the people who do these things stopped trying to persuade us that they were right. Instead, they shout down their neighbors at school board meetings. They gloat about “triggering” people.
Well, yes. We’re “triggered.”
Because we care. Because we have the *courage* to care.
Consider the location of this Starbucks. It’s in Fairfax County, Va., in an area where most of us are white and affluent. As long as we’re not gay and we’re old enough to die before the bills fall due for climate change and all manner of debts, we have absolutely nothing to fear personally from a bunch of Republicans. Even if abortion law gets more stringent, we have the means to take a little “vacation” somewhere — even if it’s Ireland or France — where we can “take care” of things, no matter our religious or political views.
Maybe that’ll make you stop and think for a minute. “Wait a minute,” you think. “The people I’m mocking and bullying here — they’re not consumed by hate. They’re not even voting for their own self-interests.”
For the most part, no, we’re not.
Because we don’t hate.
We don’t even hate you.
We hate that our political landscape is so toxic, so dominated by the merchants of fear who have taken over the media, that you feel powerless. That you feel the only way you can participate is to sneak a sticker onto an otherwise useless bollard that partially obscured by nature.
We hope it changes.
But even more than that — we invite you to help us change it.
We can talk about how to address inflation. We can talk about the best path forward in Ukraine. We can talk about how to deal with climate change — do we take stringent action to cut emissions, or do we work on adaptations, or some mix thereof? We can even talk about the specifics of when it’s OK to have an abortion — how late in the pregnancy, what kind of circumstances, etc.
But we can’t talk on a bollard. We can scratch away the sticker, you can replace it, we can scratch it away again, and what’s that getting us?
So let’s talk.
Leave a comment here. Go on social media and try to engage with someone who seems willing to have a conversation. Find out why people feel the way they do.
You’ll find that it’s not because anyone wants to oppress you. No one wants to shut down your church — though I’d imagine your pastor might want a word with you upon seeing what you’re sticking on this bollard. No one wants to take your job — unless it’s a progressive-leaning job that appeals to the Millennials and Zoomers who are specifically seeking those, but, no offense, I don’t think that’s the job you have. No one wants to groom your daughter to be gay — just be warned that she might be, anyway, and your neighbors will be there to support her either way.
You’ll find that we voted for Joe Biden and will do what we can to stop Donald Trump because we care. That’s not going to change because you said, “FUCK YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM.” If anything, it’ll stiffen our resolve to go out there and make sure the Democrats win the midterms. (The Senate map at the moment actually looks pretty good for the Blues.)
Because we care.
We even care about you.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.