I was having dinner with a friend in San Francisco this week, when invariably the conversation turned to Kavanaugh. As he started to say something, he couldn’t remember which party was the left and which party was the right. I laughed and told him not to worry – until 2016, I didn’t know which the left or the right was either. It didn’t matter to me – we were all Americans, and that was good enough for me. Those were simpler, and better times.
While I was born in the US and therefore am a citizen who votes, I didn’t spend my formative years here – I grew up in India, and never much cared for politics there, here, or anywhere. I wasn’t raised a democrat or a republican. I was just raised to be a good person. I have no idea which way my parents lean on any issues to be perfectly honest. Couldn’t tell ya if my mom is pro choice or pro life. We don’t really talk about these things in Indian families. My friends and I never discussed politics growing up, or even in college. All I ever cared about was when the next basketball game was. As a result, all my views on the world have mostly been shaped by my own feelings on things, and generally speaking, I tend to be fairly reasonable and data driven in my thinking.
My opinion on abortion? I’m pro choice. Not because I put a great deal of thought into whether a fetus is a living thing or not, but simply because I believe in people being allowed to choose their own path in life. I also think that an unwanted child is more than likely going to end up having a not so great childhood. Do I understand the stance of pro-life people? Of course. If you’ve been raised in a community that tells you that aborting a fetus amounts to murder, I think you’re coming from a good place when you fight for your beliefs. Do I find it highly hypocritical that many of these people are pro-guns while being pro-life? Yes, but I get that in their mind, guns save lives. None of the data supports that, which is why I’m also anti-guns, but I understand their stance, while not agreeing with it. I don’t think they are terrible people, just as I hope they don’t think I’m a terrible person for saying that a woman should be able to choose to abort a child that she does not want, and that there is absolutely no need for guns in our society.
The first time I ever voted was in the 2008 Presidential election. I voted for Obama. Not because I identified as a Democrat. Not because I knew much about his policies. And not because he was a person of color. I voted for Obama because I heard this man speak, and I felt that he had good intentions and was going to be a great leader. That he was going to do his goddamn best for American in general. And that he was a good and decent man, who was worthy of the office of the President of the United States. I also voted for him because George Bush seemed like a bit of a moron, and Obama seemed like he was the man to fix Bush’s mess. If Obama had been a Republican, I still would have voted for him, because I believe that regardless of his views, he would have tried his best to help all Americans.
My stance on Donald Trump? He’s not a Republican or a Democrat. He doesn’t care about any issues except one – his bank account. Whatever fills his pockets and allows him to have the best chance of avoiding as much estate tax as possible when he dies, is all he cares about. He has no moral compass and he couldn’t care less about either party. He’s simply a trust fund baby who fell into the Presidency and is using it to have a bunch of fun. Do I want lower taxes? Of course I fucking want lower taxes – there isn’t one person in the world who wants to pay higher taxes, no matter how much money they make. But if my paying less taxes is going to result in several other good things having to go away, well, now maybe I want to consider if paying a little bit more is better for the greater good. I understand the people who don’t agree with that too and think they have just as fair an argument.
What I cannot agree with however, is people that think Donald Trump is fit to be President. That is where I draw the line between saying that I respect your views while disagreeing with them, and simply saying that there is just no world in which any rational human being can look at Trump, and say that this is okay. If you support Trump, then I’m afraid our view on basic human decency is so far apart, we may not be able to find any common ground. He’s not Hitler, but only because he cares far too much about money, to bother with genocide. I can forgive you for having voted for him, but I will never forget if you continue to stand with him today.
People used to tell me never to talk politics with people in America, and I never understood why. It never struck me how much people identify with one party or another, frankly until the 2016 election. Right after Trump got elected, is when we were going through the process of selling our company. Until then, I never really posted politically motivated things on social media. I never thought Trump had a chance, and so like millions of others, I didn’t pay much attention, other than to ridicule the senile old man with cheeky jokes about his fat ass and orange hair. Suddenly, like the same millions of others, I found myself shell shocked on November 8th, 2016. I immediately took to social media to kick and scream, but it was too late. Still, I held out hope that Trump was simply playing to his base this whole time, and now that he was President, he would act, well, Presidential. By inauguration day, I knew we were fucked.
I wrote the following note to my employees on January 28th, 2017, and also posted it on social media. While many inside the company thanked me for speaking out, my sales team started receiving phone calls from customers, threatening to cancel their service with us, because of my comments. My team asked me what they should say to customers. As literally the least confrontational person in the world, It pained me greatly to be in a position where people felt they couldn’t do business with my company due to my political views, especially when I never really had any political views to begin with. I thought long and hard about what my response should be, and went back and told my sales guys to let the customers know that we are sorry they feel that way, and if they wish to leave our service, we are happy to give them a full refund. To my knowledge, not a single one actually left.
At the same time, my board started to get uneasy with my outspoken anti-Trump comments on social media, given that our potential acquirers were based in Texas. With a few weeks to go before the official deal close date, a few of my board members called me to tell me to stop tweeting until the deal was done, as they were legitimately worried my tweets may kill the deal. I reluctantly agreed to a temporary gag order. I lasted 4 days before Trump did something absolutely absurd once again, and I felt compelled to call him out. I still remember my board member texting me 5 minutes after I tweeted saying “WTF! You couldn’t last a week!!!” And the truth is, I couldn’t. I felt compelled to speak up – millions of dollars be damned. Many people have told me I’m crazy to continue to speak up like I do. They said investors will cut ties with me, especially since many of the billionaires that I may raise money from, might very well be Trump supporters. And to that I say, so be it. If someone doesn’t want to do business with me because I’m choosing to be on the right side of history here, I’ll live with it. I know how hard it is for people who are 9 to 5 employees to speak out in public, given that they could end up getting fired. I have the benefit of knowing that I’m never going to work for anyone the rest of my life, and so I speak out on behalf of all my friends who I know want to say something, but have to think of their family’s livelihood first.
But to those of you who have a platform and job security – the billionaires, the entertainers, the executives, the superstar athletes – I say to you, that staying silent, is just as bad as being one of them. This is an important moment in the history not just of America, but of the entire world. Do you want to be known as the person whose cop-out was “Republicans buy shoes too”, or are you going to stand up for what’s right? You may have voted for Trump because you wanted tax cuts, but we’ve gone too far off the rails from there for your personal economics to justify the rest of the atrocities. One tweet from you, is worth 10,000 from someone like me. It’s time to do the right thing, regardless of of your party or personal beliefs, because unless you have no integrity, there’s just no way you can stand behind this President.
A wise man once said that until we reach rock bottom, we never truly change. America has reached rock bottom. We are likely as divided as we have ever been since the civil right’s movement. We have a government that cares only about party wins and re-election, nothing else. If we can’t find a few ways to come together now, this will end incredibly poorly. Sports has always been the one thing in this country that everyone has been able to rally around. It’s why Kaspernick’s stance was so polarizing. You cancel football and basketball in this country until things are right again, you’ll have Republicans and Democrats storming the White House and tossing Trump over his own border wall.
It’s time to do the right thing and if nothing else, it’s time to vote come November.