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Sammon Says: When your Mom is Voting for Trump

Dear Sammon Says,

My mom is voting for Donald Trump. I know, I know- this is not an uncommon problem, but it causing me emotional distress because it goes against everything she ever taught me. And I don’t know what to do. Do I keep quiet? Or say something? (Back story: I am the political black sheep of the family. Mom expects us to disagree on politics and so do I but this time around, it hurts. Bad.) When George W. Bush was up for re-election, my mom and stepdad laid out news articles on the table, talking about Bush’s Christian faith. This was an extremely important voting point for my mother. Now, she is happy to throw away this voting priority for a man whose behavior and lifestyle defies everything I was ever taught in church. My mother taught me the Golden Rule. She taught me to speak kindly to others. She taught me to consider how my actions affect others and always think of other peoples’ feelings. How can the woman who taught me these life lessons be voting for a man who has no problem verbally assaulting just about anyone, a slumlord who ruined peoples’ lives without a second thought, an egomaniac with a potty mouth that would certainly get his mouth washed out with soap in my house? Finally, my mom understands what it’s like to be mistreated by a man. Before she remarried, she suffered in her first marriage with a man who tore her down constantly, told her she wasn’t attractive/smart/good enough, compared her to other women, and ultimately threatened to ruin her life when they divorced. It doesn’t sound too far from the man she is ready to vote into the White House. I understand that people are going to vote for Trump. I understand that members of my own family are going to vote for Trump. But, I feel like my mother taught me better. I feel like I owe it to the woman who raised me to have a heart to heart. But I just don’t think she’ll listen to me. What do I do? 

Stumped

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Dear Stumped,

I still can’t get over the fact that nice Christian mothers voting for Trump is “not an uncommon problem”. Donald Trump is running for president and a whole lot of people are going to vote for him, including your mom. And that suuuuuuucks.

From one political black sheep to another, you have my deepest sympathy. My dad and I have been on opposite ends of the political spectrum ever since I was in second grade and “voted” for Bill Clinton in the school election simply because I liked his hair. We have come to verbal blows many times over the years. Mostly because I, like you, have so often wondered why my kind, generous father would ever vote in a way that seemed to contradict many of the values he’d instilled in me. (I feel like I should insert here that this is the election that finally turned him, though. He’s reluctantly with her.)

By now, you and I both know it has a lot to do with generational perceptions, religious beliefs, and finances. I read a conservative Facebook post the other day that said, “Sometimes we forget that we should choose a President on policy, not personality or morality.” I think that’s what a lot of folks are thinking, including your mom and some of my sweetest relatives.

You and I also both know that few could change their minds. Especially not their black sheep babies.

Do I keep quiet? Or say something?

Say something. Say what you said here. Say it with the love and conviction she’s exhibited throughout your life. Focus on what she instilled in you, how she taught you the golden rule. And then, ask her why.

Keep it short. Keep it respectful. Don’t go into it with the goal to change her mind. (Because you probably won’t.) It may be easier to write it down. Whatever your preferred chill mode of communication is, do that.

Seeing as how this is the most important American election in the last bajillion years, you can at the very least know you spoke up.

And as for the fact that she’s a good mom? She’s still your good mom. Always will be. We may not be lucky enough to live in a Trump-free world, but if you’re lucky enough to have a mom like yours and you’re paying forward the things she taught you, it’s not all bad.

A few years ago, I read the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The one quote I remember from that book is from the father, to his son: “Children are always smarter than their parents.” Okay, so maybe that’s not always the case, but I remember the dad’s point in saying that was that a child being smarter (or more aware, empathetic, etc.) than their parents means the parents did something right.

Just sayin’.

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