I have a difficult confession—something I usually save for at least the second date. My father is Rudy Giuliani. We are multiverses apart, politically and otherwise. I’ve spent a lifetime forging an identity in the arts separate from my last name, so publicly declaring myself as a “Giuliani” feels counterintuitive, but I’ve come to realize that none of us can afford to be silent right now. The stakes are too high. I accept that most people will start reading this piece because you saw the headline with my father’s name. But now that you’re here, I’d like to tell you how urgent I think this moment is.
To anyone who feels overwhelmed or apathetic about this election, there is nothing I relate to more than desperation to escape corrosive political discourse. As a child, I saw firsthand the kind of cruel, selfish politics that Donald Trump has now inflicted on our country. It made me want to run as far away from them as possible. But trust me when I tell you: Running away does not solve the problem. We have to stand and fight. The only way to end this nightmare is to vote. There is hope on the horizon, but we’ll only grasp it if we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Around the age of 12, I would occasionally get into debates with my father, probably before I was emotionally equipped to handle such carnage. It was disheartening to feel how little power I had to change his mind, no matter how logical and above-my-pay-grade my arguments were. He always found a way to justify his party line, whatever it was at the time. Even though he was considered socially moderate for a Republican back in the day, we still often butted heads. When I tried to explain my belief that you don’t get to be considered benevolent on LGBTQ+ rights just because you have gay friends but don’t support gay marriage, I distinctly remember him firing back with an intensity fit for an opposing politican rather than one’s child. To be clear, I’m not sharing this anecdote to complain or criticize. I had an extremely privileged childhood and am grateful for everything I was given, including real-world lessons and complicated experiences like these. The point is to illustrate one of the many reasons I have a fraught relationship with politics, like so many of us do.
Even when there was an occasional flash of connection in these disagreements with my dad, it felt like nothing changed for the better, so I would retreat again until another issue I couldn’t stay silent on surfaced. Over the years other subjects like racial sensitivity (or lack thereof), sexism, policing, and the social safety net have all risen to this boiling point in me. It felt important to speak my mind, and I’m glad we at least managed to communicate at all. But the chasm was painful nonetheless, and has gotten exponentially more so in Trump’s era of chest-thumping partisan tribalism. I imagine many Americans can relate to the helpless feeling this confrontation cycle created in me, but we are not helpless. I may not be able to change my father’s mind, but together, we can vote this toxic administration out of office.
Trump and his enablers have used his presidency to stoke the injustice that already permeated our society, taking it to dramatically new, Bond-villain heights. I am a filmmaker in the LGBTQ+ community who tells stories about mental health, sexuality, and other stigmatized issues, and my goal is to humanize people and foster empathy. So I hope you’ll believe me when I say that another Trump term (a term, itself, that makes me cringe) will irrevocably harm the LGBTQ+ community, among many others. His administration asked the Supreme Court to let businesses fire people for being gay or trans, pushed a regulation to let health care providers refuse services to people who are LGTBQ+, and banned trans people from serving their country in the military.
Women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people of color are all also under attack by Trump’s inhumane policies—and by his judicial appointments, including, probably, Amy Coney Barrett. Trump’s administration has torn families apart in more ways than I even imagined were possible, from ripping children from their parents at the border to mishandling the coronavirus, which has resulted in over 215,000 in the U.S. dying, many thousands of them without their loved ones near. Faced with preventable deaths during a pandemic that Trump downplayed and ignored, rhetoric that has fed deep-seated, systemic racism, and chaos in the White House, it’s no surprise that so many Americans feel as hopeless and overwhelmed as I did growing up. But if we refuse to face our political reality, we don’t stand a chance of changing it.
In 2016, I realized I needed to speak out in a more substantial way than just debating my dad in private (especially since I wasn’t getting anywhere with that), so I publicly supported Hillary Clinton and began canvassing for congressional candidates. If the unrelenting deluge of devastating news makes you think I’m crazy for having hope, please remember that making us feel powerless is a tactic politicians use to make us think our voices and votes don’t matter. But they do. It’s taken persistence and nerve to find my voice in politics, and I’m using it now to ask you to stand with me in the fight to end Donald Trump’s reign of terror.From the Archive: Donald Trump’s Enablers
If being the daughter of a polarizing mayor who became the president’s personal bulldog has taught me anything, it is that corruption starts with “yes-men” and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power. We’ve seen this ad nauseam with Trump and his cadre of high-level sycophants (the ones who weren’t convicted, anyway).
What inspires me most about Vice President Biden is that he is not afraid to surround himself with people who disagree with him. Choosing Senator Harris, who challenged him in the primary, speaks volumes about what an inclusive president he will be. Biden is willing to incorporate the views of progressive-movement leaders like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on issues like universal health care, student debt relief, prison reform, and police reform. And he is capable of reaching across the aisle to find moments of bipartisanship. The very notion of “bipartisanship” may seem painfully ludicrous right now, but we need a path out of impenetrable gridlock and vicious sniping. In Joe Biden, we’ll have a leader who prioritizes common ground and civility over alienation, bullying, and scorched-earth tactics.
Speaking of scorched earth, I know many people feel paralyzed by climate despair. I do too, but something still can and must be done. As climate change begins to encroach on our everyday lives, it is clear that our planet cannot survive four more years of this administration’s environmental assault. This monumental challenge requires scientifically literate leadership and immediate action. Joe Biden has laid out an aggressive series of plans to restore the environmental regulations that Trump gutted on behalf of his corporate polluting friends. Biden has a transformational clean-energy policy that he will bring to Congress within his first 100 days in office, and perhaps most crucially, he brings a desire and capability to reunite the major nations of the world in forging a path toward a global green future.
I fully understand that some of you want a nominee who is more progressive. For others the idea of voting for a Democrat of any kind may be a hurdle. Now I have another confession to make. Biden wasn’t my first choice when the primaries started. But I know what is at stake, and Joe Biden will be everyone’s president if elected. If you are planning to cast a symbolic vote or abstain from voting altogether, please reconsider. It is more important than ever to avoid complacency. This election is far from over, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen.
We are hanging by a single, slipping finger on a cliff’s edge, and the fall will be fatal. If we remove ourselves from the fight, our country will be in freefall. Alternatively, we can hang on, elect a compassionate and decent president, and claw our way back onto the ledge. If I, after decades of despair over politics, can engage in our democracy to meet this critical moment, I know you can too.