Do you have a Trump supporter in your family? I do. It’s not just my extended family I see once or twice a year. It is my freaking brother. Like we share 50% of the same DNA. We were raised in the same house by the same parents. Now I do think he falls safely into the “totally conned by the Don” category of Trumpers, but STILL. He is simply too uninformed and too arrogant to realize that all his opinions are baseless and that he has an extremely myopic worldview. He is also a white, upper middle class, Catholic, educated, heterosexual man- he is kinda walking white privilege. He doesn’t mean to be like this. He doesn’t hate people ( other than the Green Bay Packers, but that’s totally appropriate) he just doesn’t get it. If it doesn’t affect him or his immediate family he doesn’t care about it. It also probably doesn’t help that I am his way younger sibling, so regardless of how educated, informed, experienced, or frankly grown up I am, my opinion is always childish and naive. I’m perpetually 10 years old in his mind. He is also completely apolitical. He loathes discussions of politics and current events. He thinks protesting anything is a waste of time. I doubt he actually took the time to vote in any election ever. Still not sure if I am comforted or disgusted by that.
But this is someone I see often and that I love. I want my children and his children to be close. I want us to get together for large family dinners even after my parents are gone. But his politics and his sheer ignorance of the world around him makes that difficult and awkward. This is a situation many many people find themselves in. This isn’t crazy uncle Bob who drops racial slurs at Thanksgiving. You can call those people out. You can remove them from your life. They aren’t fixtures in your world. This is simply not an option with my brother. Disowning him and declaring that I want nothing to do with him is wrong. It would kill my parents first off and my relationship with my other sibling would be damaged. It is simply not an option. Calling him out isn’t easy either. He isn’t truly racist or sexist and never really says hateful things. There is just a underlying belief he has that these things aren’t problems we should be worried about. That immigrants, refugees, trans rights, planned parenthood, global conflict are not worth our time. As an activist, what do you do with that? As a parent to children you want to shape, what do you do?
Here is the problem- it is getting worse. Trump is getting worse. Our country is getting worse. Had Trump came into office set aside his theatrics of the insane and actually governed like an adult perhaps we could have bridged the gap or at least set aside political differences. But this isn’t about differences between tax policies and various healthcare plans- it is becoming more and more obvious that anyone still on the Trump train has no regard or compassion for their fellow human being. My sister insists this isn’t the case and that some people simply buy into whatever nonsense he says and don’t bother to think critically. That if Trump says transgender military folks are bad for our country they believe him without questioning his facts or motivations. Perhaps that is true and these Trumpers truly lack malice as well as the requisite mental resources. It must be easier to just believe what he says, to put blind faith in a leader, and just assume everything will work out. This is especially true for white, straight, males in our society.
I guess at the end of the day I don’t know what to do about my Trumper supporting family member. I love him, but I hate his choices and opinions. I think he is wrong with every fiber of my being. I suppose what I will do is keep doing what I do, but withhold that part of me from our family gatherings and expect that he does the same. I doubt our relationship will ever truly be the same. I cannot find it in myself to respect someone who, despite being educated and intelligent, continues to support Trump. It is like breaking your mom’s favorite Jesus statue and even though you glued it back together and you think she won’t notice, the cracks are always there. You can never look at it again without remembering what happened. That the person you thought shared your basic values just doesn’t. It is sobering to realize how far apart you are from a person you so badly want to be close to and I have no answer on how to mend this.
Does anyone have the answer?
How Trump ruined my relationship with my white mother.