Thread: Coping with MAGA spouses, parents, children, family and friends
Many have been blown away to see people close to them vote for Trump not once, but twice -- or switching over to him late in this election. An open thread here for discussion.
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On the afternoon of Election Day, November 3, Joanne from Michigan, a listener to my SiriusXM show and a follower on Twitter, posted a couple of tweets expressing how deeply hurt she was at seeing her husband vote for Donald Trump.
I’d in fact spoken with Joanne back in 2018, after she called my radio program expressing frustration and pain she’d experienced, continually being ridiculed by her husband and her young son, who both supported Trump — though she was convinced her husband, who’d reluctantly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, wouldn’t actually ever vote for Trump in 2020.
Joanne’s call, coming just before the 2018 mid-term elections, had followed other calls from other women and men who were coping with spouses or other loved ones who were deep in the Trump cult. One call came after another, and they also gravitated to discussion groups on my show’s Facebook page that they created.
I eventually interviewed a few dozen of the women in particular who were married to or involved with Trumper men, and wrote a story about them last year in Gen Mag, “The Secret Lives Of Democratic Women Married to MAGA Men”:
Here’s how that story began, just to give you a sense of the emotional toll this had and the isolation these women felt:
Days before the 2018 midterm elections, a woman named Lisa was driving on a remote road in sun-baked Eastern Washington. An area that encompasses all of the state East of the Cascade Range — which is to say, most of the state — Eastern Washington over the past decade has been home to several unsuccessful movements to secede from liberal Seattle and the Pacific Coast to become the 51st U.S. state.
Not surprisingly, it is ruby red Trump country.
On this particular day, Lisa was listening to the live call-in radio show I host weekday afternoons on SiriusXM. We were talking about politics but also about a topic that would soon emerge as a recurring theme on the show: the divide inside marriages that Donald Trump and his presidency had created. A woman was on the line from her kitchen in rural Michigan, recounting her struggles as a progressive Democrat married to a Trump supporter.
Lisa, a college-educated white professional in her forties, painfully related to what she heard. She pulled over to the side of the road and phoned in.
“Wow, I’m not even sure what to say,” Lisa began. “This hit so much home. I almost wanted to cry.”
Joanne was the woman on the line from rural Michigan referenced above who’d inspired Lisa and many others to call (though the first such call was from Alison in Los Angeles, who was coping with a man to whom she’d previously been engaged and is the father of her twin girls.)
These calls inspired so many others, and for days I took calls from women as well as men who’d had terrible conflict with spouses over Trump — all dealing with it differently, or not dealing it it well at all. Then there were the people who called in about their children, their parents, in-laws, siblings and others relatives, as well as about colleagues and neighbors they’d done battle with. Many decided these people were unreachable.
A lot of callers saw older parents get addicted to Fox News and just become transformed — radicalized. Others saw their children become immersed in Trumpian youth movements, like Joanne’s son, who grew up in Michigan’s political bellwether, Macomb County, before the family moved to rural Michigan. Joanne’s son had been an Obama supporter in his late teens, only to shift to becoming a hardcore Trumper, and still believes Trump was cheated in the 2020 election.
Since then, I’ve revisited the topic regularly on the program, hearing from many listeners before the 2020 election. And during that time — and since the election, in the past three weeks — people have reached out to me on social media, wanting to connect with others dealing with the same issue and looking for the discussion threads on the Facebook page for the show. Those threads are now buried way down and hard to reach, so I thought I’d start one here, on this post.
This being the day before Thanksgiving, I’m also going to have a discussion about this topic on my program today and invite listeners to call in with their experiences— though I know, amid the pandemic, many won’t be seeing family members, and sadly might view that as a relief. (By the way, for those of you who don’t subscribe to SiriusXM, you can listen free from now until December 1 — which means you can listen to my show today — just by downloading the app on your phone from the app store, or listening online here. The show is on SiriusXM Progress, channel 127, 3-6 ET weekdays, and you can stream today’s show or any recent show later, in case you miss it today.)
Those who’ve reached out to me in recent days included women married to MAGA men who were now coping, like Joanne, with the aftermath of the election and becoming bombarded with angry tirades about “voter fraud” and “stolen election.” And I’ve also heard from people dealing with friends and neighbors, co-workers and others. Some people are living in towns that are 90% MAGA and no one has taken their signs down and they’re harassing those who supported President-elect Joe Biden, still refusing to believe he won.
People have dealt with these issues in their personal relationships in many ways and there is no “right” way. It depends on your personal circumstances. Some people have left spouses, unable to reconcile; others work it out. Some have dumped family or friends while others keep in touch but try not to talk about it.
So if this is something you’re dealing with — in any way at all — please join the discussion in the comments and tell your story and talk about how you’re coping with it. And if you’re not dealing with this, but have some thoughts or want to help people coping with it, please join in as well.
Even as these conflicts persist, the great news is — we’re having the first Thanksgiving in which we know Trump will be gone, and that’s a lot for which to be thankful!
So Happy Thanksgiving.
I haven't spoken with my father for about two years now. For someone who I never thought he had a racist bone in his body, he would constantly repost horrible right-wing memes on Facebook that were pretty much blatantly racist and usually easily disproven with two minutes of Internet research. He knows that my brother and I are staunch liberals, yet he'll repost things calling all Democrats church bombers and baby killers. In fact I think he knows the memes he reposts are full of lies, but he just doesn't care as long as they can "own the libs" or whatever. He always seemed accepting of me being gay so that's not the problem. But decades of watching Fox News and following right-wing media has turned him to despise and vilify Hillary Clinton, Obama and all Democrats. My brother occasionally still talks to him and as long as they don't get into politics, it's fine. I just can't go there yet. I'm too disappointed in my father for that, though he is getting older and I would like to patch things up.
Sadly for most Trump supporters, I don't see them ever facing reality again. And I can't think of a solution either. As much as we'd like to, we can't just turn off right-wing media. We can't force them to start telling the truth. It really is a cult, and how do you rescue millions of people who don't want to be rescued? When they think scientists, experts, higher education and even main stream media are part of the "liberal elite", that only leaves lowbrow news opinion shows, crackpots and fringe Internet websites as their only source of information. How can this decades-old shift away from education, facts and truth be turned around? No idea.
One last thought: there are conservative think-tanks that for decades have done long-term planning which has enacted gerrymandering, voter suppression tactics and more. Do we have any liberal think-tanks out there who can do some long-term strategizing? It seems that right-wing media always sets the tone and language of the debate, and we're always left defending ourselves and playing catch-up. It's about time we took the offensive for a change.
Alot of my friends who voted for trump in 2016 indicated to me that they were not voting for him in 2020 , but the damage was done because I warned them about what kind of person he was in 2015. The few that voted for him the 2nd time I have a real problem with and do not socialize with them anymore. Luckily my family votes democratic. Still very dejected that 73 million people voted for 45.