What they are telling me and the world is that their fears outweigh their love.
This election has been rough—to say the least. According to an American Psychological Association survey, 52% of American adults said the election is a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
But 2016’s turmoil is more than just internal and is actually fueling family feuds. Somewhere in between “Dump Trump” and “Lock Her Up,” people’s feelings are getting hurt. One Trump supporter reportedly told his daughter “we can’t have a relationship” if she didn’t vote for The Donald. She obliged.
While I’ve received no such ultimatums, my family has unfriended and even blocked me on Facebook. I, all the while, have maintained that I’m open to different viewpoints and that family trumps (ha, ha) political differences. I would never unfriend a family member for supporting a candidate—even such a despised grotesque one as Trump. I’m bigger than that.
At least that’s what I tell myself.
This election, more than any other in our lifetime, is deeply personal. It has poured salt on old wounds and created new ones. And, as much as I don’t want it to, “The personal is political,” rings truer than ever. I love my family. Sure, we’ve had our political differences in the past—I, the bleeding heart liberal and they, the callous conservatives—but I’ve never actually been hurt by my family’s political positions. Not until Trump.
I am 31. I’m old enough to remember Mitt Romney, John McCain, George Bush, Bob Dole, George Bush Sr., and Reagan. What I don’t remember is a GOP nominee who openly jokes about sexually harassing women, has been accused multiple times of rape, and is proudly misogynistic/sexist. While I know my family members aren’t saying they agree with these things, they are saying they are “OK” with them. They are willing to make a bargain and it feels like my dignity is on the table.
When my family votes for Trump, what they are telling me is that they do not value my safety and dignity (and that of all women/girls) as much as they value that of the “unborn.” Look, I used to be staunchly pro-life; I get it. Life begins at conception and abortion is murder.
But the reality is that abortion has been legal ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973—that is, when six of the nine justices were Republican. For the last 40 years, Republican justices have outnumbered Democratic justices and the decision still stands. Even if my family believes that Donald Trump is actually “pro-life” and would appoint pro-life justices, it’s highly unlikely (as in, not at all) that they’d suddenly overturn Roe v. Wade.
In fact, recent history shows us that it is actually the policies implemented under democratic administrations that have decreased the abortion rate which has been reduced by over a third since 1990 and has continued to fall under Obama.
So why are evangelicals, such as my family, still trading the safety and dignity of their mothers, sisters, and wives for a principled position lacking proof? Why is the fact that Trump has now been accused of sexually harassing and/or assaulting 11 women and raping two (one who was 13) not enough? This is a man who has repeatedly degraded, attacked, and dehumanized women. And yet none of this is apparently as real or urgent as electing a man who promises to appoint justices who may overturn Roe v. Wade.
This isn’t “pro-life”—it’s pro-principle and principle alone.
And while we’re on the subject of life, let’s talk about that belonging to black and brown people in this country. Those who Trump has called “inherently lazy,” “murderers and rapists,” “snakes,” and advocated for the unconstitutional profiling and search of their bodies and property.
Evangelical Christians in America love to claim they are colorblind—that before God, there is “neither Jew nor Gentile.” But loving they neighbor only seems to extend to the point of political convenience. People—including a few I love—are actually voting for a man who has been endorsed by both the KKK and the American Nazi Party. A man whose rhetoric has emboldened hate groups across the country. And it’s no wonder.
“But Trump will protect Christian’s First Amendment right to not hire homosexuals!” “He will restore prayer in schools!” “He will make America great again!”
What my family is telling me and others when they vote for Trump is that the “sanctity of marriage” means marital rape and infidelity but not loving same-sex couples. That transgender women are a threat but not an admitted sexual predator. That they love my partner (who is black) but not enough to care about the dangers and dehumanization his race affords him.
What they are telling me and the world is that their fears outweigh their love. And by this, unfortunately, we will know them.
Jessica Schreindl is a freelance writer and TV producer in Seattle, Washington. She is a contributing writer for Mic.com and has been published on Feministing.com. She graduated with her M.A. from Syracuse University where she studied film history and documentary filmmaking.