Robert Azzi: A vote, a vote, my kingdom for a vote

For the Monitor
Published: 11/29/2020 6:00:05 AM

In Shakespeare’s Richard III, the king, after losing his horse, wanders the battlefield wallowing in mud killing all he encounters, all the while poetically raging: “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

An arrogant and illegitimate ruler, the real King Richard III met his end at the Battle of Bosworth Field, vanquished from his throne, a usurper remembered for imprisoning his nephews to secure the throne.

Today, hearing votaries and supplicants argue for maintaining Donald Trump’s rule over our realm by corruptly suppressing the votes of fellow Americans, I hear a similar cry: “A vote, a vote, my kingdom for a vote!”

It’s done: The votes have been counted – Joseph R. Biden Jr. is president-elect.

Today, post-election, I’m being advised it’s time to seek unity, seek consensus – help find the American center.

I want none of it.

I want none of the blatant hypocrisy and arrogance offered by many of the 74 million-plus Americans who voted for Trump – those who today want me to join them to find the center?

I want none of it.

I’m tired of calls for unity from people who say we should come together, that I should be willing to reach out to folks who for years enabled a racist – one who had tried to delegitimize President Barack Obama – to threaten and rend the fragile fabric of this society, putting people like me in their cross-hairs.

Such calls frequently come from places of privilege – from mostly financially secure, white, cisgendered Americans who are relatively untouched by the systemic racism and violence, even from the pandemic, that Trump unleashed upon us.

They may not like him but they won’t condemn him. They remain silent as Trump tries, still, to suppress the votes of millions of Americans and overturn an election – yet they ask me, at the same time, to find common ground.

I answer we need Truth before reconciliation.

Trump won’t concede the election but you want me to reconcile with his supplicants who have spent years trying to marginalize, delegitimize, and disenfranchise people like me.

He’s willing to lie, deny facts, corrupt and jeopardize our security interests yet you want me to mend fences.

We need Truth before reconciliation.

I’m not willing to hold hands or cross a bridge with anyone who, even to this day, refuses to renounce the policies that have enabled, at the expense of my well-being, at the expense of the Other, their heightened privilege and profits – those who made lots of money yet were never fearful for their safety.

They knew what Trump was doing and they didn’t care.

They stood silent while Trump terrorized marginalized peoples, while he praised white supremacists and anti-Semites in Charlottesville after they chanted “Jews will not replace us,” silent as he called Mexicans rapists and called for banning Muslims from entering the United States, as he praised vigilantes and right-wing militia groups.

They were silent as Trump separated children from their parents and caged them, silent – still – as he tries to destroy the Affordable Care Act that protects millions of Americans, tries to dismantle DACA, wages war on women’s reproductive rights, demeans LGBTQ peoples and loving same-sex and trans marriages and relationships; as he denies the existence of the murderous systemic racism that has racked this nation for centuries.

They stood silent as he failed to confront COVID-19 despite knowing the threat it presented. Today, the blood of many of the over 250,000 Americans who have died during this pandemic stains the hands of those who would shake my hand in the interest of reconciliation.

There must be Truth before reconciliation.

Silence in the face of such cruelty does not deserve a hand shake.

Down deep, I believe those who supported Trump – for whatever spiritual, political or selfish reason – basically lack the humanity, the compassion, the basic decency to recognize that every life has value.

Who among them stands to honor the needy and destitute, the over 25 million who are food insecure, the children being denied education, those being dispossessed and evicted.

Who among them protects the sojourner.

We need to recognize that part of America has turned into something ugly, an ugliness and dishonesty driven by a viral and ongoing belief among the president’s followers that, as Randy Wayne White writes, “They don’t need the facts because they already know the truth – their common sense has spared them the effort of investigation or thought.”

There is no “center” to find with people who are too blind, or too lazy, to even Google to confirm – or disprove – the truth of the absurd things they have come to believe.

We need to confront the fact that, as Noam Chomsky told Ha’aretz, that, “Despite Biden’s win, Trump won a huge victory. It’s amazing that someone who has just killed hundreds of thousands of Americans can even run for office. … Trump has managed to tap into poisonous currents that are right below the surface in American life, culture and history. … White supremacy is a deep principle in American society and culture.”

For over 74 million Americans Trumpism is a belief system that amplifies their fears, prejudices, and grievances; that offers gratification gained by unquestioningly following their charismatic leader – even when he suggests shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, even when he threatens the demise and destruction of our constitutional republic.

Those faux-Patriots, wallowing in muddy swamps of their own creation, are not our political opposites – they’ve migrated outside the political realm and deserve neither comfort nor accommodation. This is not an issue of reconciling differing values and beliefs, of showing respect for each other.

One doesn’t respect delusional racists, bigots, white supremacists, exploiters, and oppressors – they don’t get equal time.

One resists them.

We need Truth before reconciliation.

(Robert Azzi, a photographer and writer who lives in Exeter, can be reached at His columns are archived at


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