I have a very vivid memory of watching Ronald Reagan debate Jimmy Carter on our tiny black and white TV in our kitchen (8-10″ screen, I believe) in the fall of 1980. I was four and a half years old. I didn’t know what I was watching, but I knew that it was very important given my parents’ tone and interest (we never watched TV during dinner). I heard two words, “democrat” and “republican,” that prompted one very important question from my 4-year old brain.
Daddy, what’s the difference between a Republican and a Democrat?
My dad’s answer stuck with me until I was in college:
Well, Court, Republicans make people work for their money. Democrats give money away.”
From that day forward, I was a Republican.
My older sister was the black sheep in the family. She defied my parents’ every command (and they were, most definitely, commands), she spoke out against social injustices, she had S-E-X long before I thought she should have, and she despised my parents’ way of life.
We were raised in a very privileged lifestyle – my dad was a “big fish in a small pond” and we had the things kids around us only dreamt of. My dad drove a Porsche, we belonged to the country club, we belonged to elite dinner clubs, my grandparents hosted George H.W. Bush in their home during Reagan’s run for the presidency, we took elaborate trips that landed us in the highest-rated resorts around the country, we girls drove BMW’s, and we went to an elite all-girls Catholic high school. We were given EVERY opportunity there was to succeed, and by “succeed,” I mean to surround ourselves with people like us so that we could inherit a similar situation once we grew up.
My older sister fought our upbringing, tooth and nail, at every pass. I remember getting so angry with her for “not appreciating the things Mom and Dad have given us.” My dad would literally say, “my job is to worry about me and mine,” and I championed him. I could not understand her defiance. I could not understand her anger. I could not understand her.
But how could I understand her? I was a carbon copy of my parents.
I said things like, “I fully trust our government,” “People need to take care of themselves,” and the most cringe-worthy, “People are in bad situations because they put themselves there. PERIOD.” I didn’t just say them, I believed them.
I’d like to say that I started changing my views in college, but I’m not sure that I did. I think that’s when things started to come a little more into focus for me, but I graduated a registered Republican. I voted (cringe) straight ticket Republican (cringe) in my first election in 1994 in the bluest county of Iowa for God’s sake.
My sister wept for me.
I think my move to Chicago, a move that was not planned nor dreamt of, is what made me start thinking outside of the Republican box that my parents very carefully constructed around me. My parents were as Republican as Republican got, back in the day when abortion wasn’t a big part of the platform. We were raised being told that if we got pregnant in high school, that we would have to have an abortion. And I, being so good and compliant, agreed that that was how it would be (I made damn sure I didn’t get pregnant in high school by staying a virgin past graduation). But when I moved to Chicago in 1998, abortion was seeming much more front-and-center for the Republican platform and it bothered me.
I believe in women’s rights to choose. I do. I don’t think I’d ever have an abortion or want my child to have any involvement with one, but I think it’s a right that needs to remain with women. It is so important to me that when I lived in Chicago, I changed my registration not to “independent” … but to “democrat.” Because, as I still say, “taxes rise and fall easily with each administration. People’s rights, once taken away, are very difficult to return to them.”
My sister rejoiced.
I didn’t dare tell my father.
When I met Hottie, we had lengthy, wonderful conversations about politics. We were 98% on the same page and I learned that I wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican, but that I was a textbook Libertarian. I am fiscally very conservative and socially very liberal – and I believe that most decisions belong at the state level and not mandated at the federal level (except, of course, when it comes to abortion and the right to marry whomever you want. Yes… hypocritical). When the 2008 elections were coming up, we latched onto Ron Paul and, because we were BOTH registered Democrats, changed our affiliation to Republican so that we could caucus for him.
And caucus we did.
We were delegates to the state convention for Ron Paul and we took this honor seriously. Hottie wore a suit and I dressed in a professional skirt and top. We arrived early so that we could figure out, exactly, what we were there to do and how it would be done. The day took forever, and we had to vote on the “prongs of the party’s platform.” Imagine being on the state convention floor as a “Ron Paul Republican” as the group is voting on the Republican platform of gay marriage and abortion. It was very uncomfortable and strange.
Ron Paul, obviously, did not win in 2008.
I’m not a Democrat, I’m sure that’s obvious by now. I’m not a Democrat but I love President Obama. I think he’s a wonderful human being and even though I wasn’t thrilled with his election, I sure was happy knowing that the man at the top was a presentable, nice person. My wish for him going into the office on January 20, 2009 was that he would leave the office on January 20, 2017 as decent a man as he was 8 years prior.
I truly believe that President Obama will leave the office of the presidency maybe even a better person than he was back in 2009.
This election cycle, like for so many others, has been painful for me. I was one of those people who laughed when Dona.ld Tru.mp put his hat in the ring.
“It will never happen,” I’d say.
I enjoyed his early idiotic statements because it made for good reading while running on the treadmill. I couldn’t believe what he was saying, but I found comfort in knowing that there was no way the American public would elect him President.
I vowed to stick to my party and vote for “the Libertarian,” not even knowing who that was.
Xenophobic statements were made by DT, and I’d think, “this will do him in, thank God.” But his support went up. Racist statements were made by DT, and again, “this has got to be the thing to do him in.” Nope – he won the Republican primary. Sexist and misogynistic statements were made, and my thoughts were, “there it is – FINALLY.” And nothing. Well, more than nothing… his support grew.
With the hot mic incident, I started thinking about my status as a swing-state voter. At first, I was still committed to Gary Johnson and thought it was ridiculous of Democrats to expect people to change their minds to vote against every fiscally conservative bone in their bodies. I mean, if you’re fiscally conservative, it’s pretty hard to vote for a Democrat.
“taxes rise and fall easily with each administration. People’s rights, once taken away, are very difficult to return to them.”
On October 24th, I posted this to FB with a link to Michelle Obama’s speech in support of Hillary Clinton.
“Shared humanity,” YES!
My friend posted the same speech on her page and it spiraled into a hate-filled conversation amongst many women (and a few supportive men) and one man who didn’t believe in male privilege, white privilege, or that DT’s heinous statements were wrong. We women were told we were too sensitive, that “cat calling” isn’t sexual assault (none of us said it was), and that our safety is our responsibility alone (“carry a knife, hit him with your keys.”). That man made us so angry that we started, very graphically, describing our own sexual assaults (from attempted gang rape to full-on rape), asking him if our experiences “count as” sexual assault. After hours of this, he went away.
That was what I needed to realize the impact of my vote.
“Shared humanity,” YES!
I told Hottie that I was voting for Hillary, and he completely understood my reasoning.
My older sister and I don’t talk often. We like each other, but she works during the day so there really isn’t time to sit around and gab. I’m not sure how or when I told her I was voting for HRC, but she knew. We had some great text exchanges and laughs that, “he’s not going to win, and this will all be over soon.”
I wasn’t hiding who I was voting for. Once my decision was made, I almost wore it like a badge of honor. I told my conservative younger sister I was voting for HRC and she seemed to be leaning in the Johnson or HRC direction because of the disgustingness that is DT’s spoken words. I felt good, like the three of us had, miraculously, escaped the grasps of our “me and mine” parents.
Election day came, dragged on, and then… complete devastation.
My white privilege caused me to be absolutely, 100% stunned. I could hardly speak. I cried a lot. I held my breath and texted my friends. I called my sister and asked, “What in the absolute F*** is going on?!?!” Hottie came home from a work road trip and just looked at me, sitting on the bed in tears, and said, “I didn’t think this could happen.” We went to bed around 2:15. The election was called, I’m told, around 2:30 AM.
I woke to the reality that it wasn’t even a close race. I woke to the reality, a reality I feared was coming, that we don’t live in the country I thought we lived in. I woke to the reality that my parents voted for this.
A long text exchange transpired between my father, sisters, and me on election night. My dad started it.
Of course he did.
He started it when Virginia went blue and he wrote, “Virginia! Rats!!!” My older sister lives in Virginia. I responded with, “Did they call it for Hillary?” “Yes.” And this is how my dad found out that his baby, his little rank-and-file mini-me, voted for a Democrat, “THANK GOD!”
His response: “Very disappointed Courti Bear.”
My statement of “I hate Trump” was met with “I think that is rather hard. But oh well.” My little sister responded with, “I hate Hillary,” and that wasn’t called ‘rather hard.’ I then, after more conversation, decided not to settle.
“Dad, please say you think it’s ‘too hard’ for L to ‘hate Hillary.’ Last time we spoke, you, Dad, said you ‘hated’ her.”
Me and mine.
The morning after the election, my older sister texted the group asking that we not talk politics. My younger sister responded with, “sore losers.😉 ” Not smart nor kind, L, not kind. My older sister fired back with “Utterly disgusted by the American people. I hope you all get exactly what you deserve.” That transpired into my two sisters slinging insults at each other, with the use of the F word, and me sitting by just watching. Until…
“I am ashamed of both H and Courtney. This is not how we behave,” came through from my dad.
Who’s the ‘we’ he’s referring to, and more importantly, what, exactly, is he ashamed of? He wouldn’t answer my questions so for the first time in my life, my dad saw this from me: “FUCK YOU!”
This was not just like any other election. This election brought out all the things that many people want to say, but didn’t feel comfortable saying. People’s freedoms and safety are being dismantled more and more every day. If a child of any color other than white could go to school last Monday without even thinking of seeing a swastika on the bathroom stall, but sees it the following Wednesday, that child’s freedoms and safety are being (and have been) dismantled.
My family voted for “me and mine.”
I voted for “them and ours.”
I truly did.
I will likely save money on taxes under DT. Great. Everyone wants more money. But do you know what people want more than money? Freedom and safety.
I had to post my position on FB so that those who may think I vote and think like them know, that most certainly, I do not. I had to post so that my friends with families that don’t look like mine know that I have their backs. I had to post so that when my kids read our family books later that I print directly from FB, they see that I did not condone this or the direction that DT has already taken this country in. My post brought out a person who was my parents’ best friend growing up. She is in the top 1% of income earners in this country and I heard her and her husband, several times in my childhood, speak of “me and mine,” just like my dad. My friends didn’t stand for it, and she called them coddled. Unreal. The good thing to come of that thread was that my friends, the ones who I chose long after high school and college, saw exactly how I was raised and where I came from. That… that was priceless.
I’m pretty sure 80% of my FB folks have already blocked me, because I post WAY too much stuff about my life and kids (because, you know, mysocialbook), so if a few more block me because of recent posts, that’s fine by me.But I can’t not post. I can’t let people (or more importantly, my sons later on when they’re re-reading our family books) interpret my silence as acceptance or approval of what has happened since Tuesday night.People close to me have told me that they’re ashamed of me for crying over this election. Let me be clear – I did not cry over the candidate losing. I cried over the things that the majority of our voting citizens chose to allow or ignore. I cried over the gigantic security blanket that DT gave to those in this country who used to hide their hatred, sexism, and racism but don’t need to hide any longer. I cried for every family that isn’t a mirror image of mine that now needs to have an even deeper discussion about staying safe in this American climate. I cried over my grief of losing the America that I thought I lived in, but clearly do not. I cried for the things I feared would happen, and happen quickly. For anyone to think I cried over a losing candidate, a candidate that I don’t even like in a party I don’t affiliate myself with (registered Republican here), is ignorant and lacks any understanding and empathy.I don’t cry when I lose.I cry when I hurt.The things I most feared just two nights ago – well…. they’re happening. My eyes are WIDE open. Ignore my posts, ignore reality, ignore the vetted articles. Blow them off, say it’s not a big deal, turn the other way. That’s fine.But I am not joining you.
My dad and I had to clear the air in some way after my enraged “F you” text. I called him after he left me a voicemail. I was so upset that he couldn’t even understand what I was saying. He had no idea what this election meant to me. He thought I was just “another crazy liberal” voting left because that’s the progressive thing to do.
As I told him, I don’t know who my kids are yet, I don’t know who they’re going to choose to love. I’m trying to teach them to love everyone around them, while being aware of their differences (because being “color blind” does no one any favors), and to love themselves. To vote for a man who hates everyone who doesn’t look like him sends my children the wrong message. It tells my children that I am willing to overlook his hatred so that I can save some money. I’m not willing to do that.
What I wanted to tell him was:
Dad, I’m trying to raise better, more embracing children than you raised. I’m trying to teach them that it’s about them, us, and ours. I’m trying to teach them that they are elite only because of their race, but that I won’t let them act elite as I was allowed to act. I am trying to teach them to value love and compassion over YOUR almighty dollar. I am trying to teach them to never say, “me and mine.” I am trying to teach them not to be like you.
My dad can be ashamed of me all he wants. His approval is not something I’d be proud of.