First published on Friday the 21st of October, 2016, this piece comes in at number 17 in the top 30 most read Villainesse stories of 2016.
At a recent family reunion in Michigan, my aunt (a Democrat) ripped the TRUMP: LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN sign off the front door of our great aunt and uncle’s cottage, mumbled a number of profanities and biffed it in the bushes, where it lay next to the American Dream, hope for humanity, and Great Uncle Roger’s long-lost dentures.
I’m a liberal Kiwi with a big, fat, right-wing American family. Invites to our biennial family reunions come with fine print: ‘this year we are going to have a political free zone.’ That print be damn fine, my friends, ‘cause I can name several members of my family who are either going blind or opting out of the rules. Every couple of years the liberals of the family get to grind their teeth through comments like “Hey, you guys like Obama in New Zealand? Do they know that he’s BLACK?!” and “are you seriously considering voting for HER?!”†
I *takes deep breath, screws up face, lets breath out* love my family, but my gosh, what a scary time to be a politically active member of a split Democrat/Republican family. I can usually compartmentalise our differences. Agree to disagree and all that. But now that a washed-up-Elvis, orangutan of a man is running for the oval office, this shit just got whack. It is unfathomable to me that members of my own family can accept racism, sexism and xenophobia. Blood is thicker than water, but is it thicker than mud?
My family has voted Republican for as far back as anyone can remember. My aunt remembers asking her dad what they “were” when she was in third grade. “We’re Republicans,” he said. She asked why. His answer? “Republicans have money and Democrats don’t.” For many conservative Americans being Republican was, and still is, a status symbol.
Today, political stance in the States defines you. I’ve heard people say that they can’t go on a second date with someone because, “they’re like literally a Democrat/Republican.” But it hasn’t always been that way. My dad recalls a time when political opinion was private in America. It all started to become polarised once the first televised presidential debate took place (Nixon vs. Kennedy), and campaigners realised how powerful a tool the media could be.
My aunt and father became Democrats in the ‘70s when George McGovern was campaigning against the war in Vietnam. She was 16 and unable to vote, and he was given a draft number. All of a sudden the war felt real to them – here was a candidate who was against war! Sign me up! It’s rare for American families to have opposing political views however; it is typically engrained within American family values for generations.
As PC America stumbles through pussy synonyms in this absolute circus of an election, I can at least rest easy knowing that my 84-year-old Grandma who, in a small but significant victory for feminism, as a woman who has been voting according to her husband’s views for her entire married life like a good conservative wife should, has finally exercised her belief in a woman’s right to choose by the utterance of five glorious words. “Trump is a raging asshole”.