Updates: “Ashamed of My Dad” Responds

updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Ashamed of My Dad” who felt very betrayed by her father voting for Trump and wondered how to reconcile that betrayal and her love for him, as well as how to deal with him while visiting over the holidays. Her update is below.

I wrote to you about the election, and my dad voting for Trump despite saying that he wasn’t going to vote. For context, I grew up and currently live in the south, so I don’t think I’m in that much of a “liberal bubble.” My dad has always voted Republican, and in the past I have never felt like this after an election, or held whom he voted for against him. Sure, Bush wasn’t great, but at least he was mainly dopey instead of being actually insane (see: the pictures of him fighting his poncho at the inauguration).

So I ended up talking to my dad about the election over the holidays while I was home for a few days, as well as some hurtful things he’s said to me over the past few years. When I was younger we had a decent relationship, but the older I get the more strained it has become. For example, when I broke up with a verbally abusive and alcoholic ex-boyfriend he said: “Well, have you thought about YOUR role in all of this?”(I had talked to my dad about a lot of our issues prior to breaking up, and had really used him as emotional support during what was a really shitty year, which made that comment extra hurtful and has made me distance myself from him some). He says things like that every so often. I think that our issues outside of the election just amplified the betrayal I felt about him voting for Trumpelstiltskin after saying he wasn’t going to vote, since my feelings towards him were already kind of raw.

It didn’t go well, unfortunately. When I mentioned some of the things he had said that really hurt my feelings, he denied ever saying them, and only acquiesced that it was possible he had said them when my mom stood up for me. Talking to him can be kind of difficult, because he has a tendency to deny having ever said things, or that I “took them the wrong way” or “he didn’t mean it like that.” He also has a tendency to paint women as “crazy” when they have emotions, so talking to him often means having my own father talk to me like I’m an irrational harpy. I’ve tried getting him to go to therapy as a family before when I was in my early 20’s, which he wouldn’t do, so I’ve gone on my own to try and figure out the best way to have a relationship with him, but it’s still frustrating. I know he loves me, in that he would go to the ends of the earth if I were in trouble, but emotionally I’m not sure how to connect with him anymore.

When I tried talking about different points about politics, it turned into a rant against black people (“They need to stop playing the victim card!”), immigrants (“I’m sick of them coming into this country. I’m SICK of it.”), sexism doesn’t exist, and that he’s “tired of being blamed for everything because he’s a white man”! I would ask him to elaborate or explain his position better, but he mainly brushed it aside or would talk about unrelated topics. He tried to downplay things I brought up, such as sexual harassment at work, by saying that he experiences more sexual harassment than women do. I’m not saying men can’t be sexually harassed, but I am saying that it tends to happen to women more than men, which he was trying to deny. It ended with him saying (about my non-white, first generation boyfriend who is kind, incredibly bright, gentle, and good to me): “You know, I don’t know how compatible you and your boyfriend can be, since you come from such different backgrounds.”

So it didn’t really go that well. He told me he’s not a racist or sexist, and that voting for Trump didn’t make him one, so I said, “Ok, since that’s the case, will you call your representatives or say anything if he tries to pass laws that are unjust? I think that’s our responsibility.” And he didn’t say anything in response, so I’ll take that as a “no.” It seemed like his main reason for voting for Trump was that he “couldn’t let Hillary get away with ‘it.'”

On the other hand, my mom and I don’t agree on everything politically, but I feel like we can have a respectful debate and we’ll listen to each other’s points! She has even changed her mind over the years about things like LGBTQ rights! We send a lot of political emails, and I know my dad reads them, so I’m hoping that maybe something clicks with him.

My boyfriend had a pretty awkward holiday experience, too. His whole extended family immigrated here about 30 years ago, and his aunt’s white boyfriend was at dinner. He’s apparently been really nice in the past, but went on an anti-immigrant rant at a table full of immigrants, declared that “Trump won,” and that he “guesses he’s a racist,” and dropped the N-word several times in front of my boyfriend’s black mom. So I guess he thinks that’s OK now, since Trump is president…

I guess that’s the update. I feel like I’ve written a lot, but also not enough, because how can you accurately/fairly condense a relationship into a letter, while also throwing the burning dumpster fire that is current American politics into the mix?

Thank you for your advice, and the action plans, Wendy! As this presidency goes on, I’m sure my dad and I will have more debates…

Oh! Also when I was talking to my dad about illegal immigrants — “What about children who were brought here when they were small, know no other life, and had no choice in coming here? Wouldn’t it make sense to give them the opportunity to become part of the society they grew up in?” — my dad responded with: “Well, their PARENTS had a choice.” Who is this person saying these things??? — Still Ashamed of My Dad

Shortly after Trump was elected, I was pretty adamant about how it was the responsibility of those of us with Trump-voting family members and friends to talk to them about our feelings and try to bridge the great divide in our country. In the almost three months since the election, I’ve changed my stance a bit. I still think it’s important to talk to the Trump-supporting people in your life, but only if they’re reasonable people whom you believe could be receptive to hearing opposing views and may even change their own views and behavior. How can you tell if they are? I would think by this point in Trump’s presidency, which has only been ten days but has already been so momentous, if a person has any chance of seeing the light, he would be have seen it by now. Are the Trump supporters you know, including your dad, SAOMD, showing any kind of buyer’s remorse? Have they expressed any disdain at all for the unconstitutional and inhumane orders Trump has signed, for the raging racists he’s nominated for his cabinet, for the obvious conflicts of interests he’s ignored, or the batshit crazy-ass tweets he can’t stop with? Do they seem at all phased by the fascist way he’s discrediting the media, or his obsession over the results of an election he won, or his silence over the mass increase in hate crimes in his name? What about his budding bromance with Putin? What about how he fired our acting Attorney General for disagreeing with him and suggested that anyone else who disagrees with him should step down from their posts? Does any of that bother them? If none of this alarming, dictator-like behavior raises any concern with them, then it’s probably safe to assume that, unless something Trump does directly hurts them, they’ll remain unmoved and there’s nothing you can say or do to affect them.

It sucks when you realize someone you care about is either so brainwashed, so willfully ignorant, so racist/sexist/xenophobic, or so totally apathetic to not care about the sanctity of our democracy, to say nothing about the state of humanity and our environment, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. In the interest of your relationship with your dad, I would suggest that as long as you feel outraged by the state of our country and our government, which he is partly responsible for by voting for a monster, you limit the amount of time you spend with and talking to him. You say that you don’t know how to connect to him, and so maybe you just don’t. Maybe you let your history together be connection enough to maintain a surface-level relationship, and the role he played in raising an independent-thinking, strong woman be the light by which you view him when you need to think well of him.

You can still love your dad while acknowledging he’s flawed — that his way of thinking is deeply disturbing. Save the “respectful debates” for your mother, whom you say is reasonable, and keep conversations with your dad on more superficial topics that aren’t guaranteed to divide you further since you know that deeper-level talks are fruitless with him anyway.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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  1. WWS, obviously, but regarding the non-political aspects of your relationship, I’m not surprised at all that it went that way. I have a decent relationship with my parents but it took until late 30s to get them to even listen to my feelings about my childhood and acknowledge that I feel that way, rather than screaming (my mom had been a screamer, not my dad). I still don’t think they really believe what I feel that they did to me, but they will now listen and I know they’re genuinely sorry I feel that way.

    A lot of other parents I know won’t even come close to admitting any wrongdoing, and the choice is unfortunately to just cut them out of your life, or accept that this is who they are and they’re not going to change. Because they won’t.

    1. Just for example, I remember being hit by my mom, in the face, pretty often. When I got bigger it turned into legit physical fights that my dad would helplessly try to stop. They are not going to acknowledge that. My mom MIGHT admit to slapping me once or twice when I was being a brat. She’s not going to acknowledge what SHE did to cause me to act like that either. It just is what it is.

      1. Agreed. I had a very similar childhood and my parents have never admitted any of it. “They did the best they could and I was a hard kid to raise” was the closest I have gotten so far. Unfortunately, as you said, they don’t change so you really have to adjust your expectations about how your relationship is going to be going forward since the likelihood of this “come to jesus” moment and apology on their part is extremely unlikely.

      2. Yup, unfortunately my cousin is in her late 40s and STILL trying to get her dad, who left them behind over 25 years ago, to have that epiphany, and trying to force a relationship. It will never happen.

        OTOH, I HAVE seen two family members, my brother and my uncle, be talked from stupid-white-male-right to voting for Hillary. But honestly I don’t think it can be done by kids to their parents. In my brother’s case it was my parents who changed his thinking, and in my uncle’s case his two much older sisters.

      3. Anonymousse says:

        My mom is just like this. She actually brings up things she did that she knows still hurt me as accusations I’ve made against her that are unfounded and unjust.

      4. Yup. Once I mentioned to my mom that my boyfriend had said to me, “your family is even more dysfunctional than mine,” which was saying a lot. He had observed this during just occasional family dinners. When I repeated it to my mom, she screamed at me, “GO FUCK YOURSELF!” She will not acknowledge it. Her own sister was giving her a hard time recently about how she never shares any family drama. She’s like, “I don’t have any.” Yeah right you don’t! Her story is always going to be that she did a great job. My dad, honestly, has redeemed himself in my eyes, but I don’t think she has.

      5. Kate –
        Don’t you think relaying a bf’s comment to you about your family dynamic to your mother was a rather shitty thing to do? Shitty to the bf, that is.

      6. Not really, Ron. We were very on and off because I kept breaking up with him. We were probably off at the time. He kept coming back for more, so that’s on him. We’re both fine now, thanks for asking.

      7. He’s the one that my dad once said, “well, you could get back together with him… but you’ll be stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork a year from now.”

      8. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        @Anon from LA

        I’m a parent who had a mom who picked on me endlessly throughout my childhood and on through college and then I moved away and barely see her.

        I swore to myself when I was a child that I would never treat my kids the way my mom treated me. I think I’ve been able to do that. I don’t pick on my kids. I have never hit or spanked either of them. I have never insulted either of them. That is all in your control and all your choice to make. I don’t curse or scream. It isn’t in my nature so maybe that has helped. I’m calm even when other people are going crazy. That’s probably helped. As an adult you can choose what you say and what you do. You can and should be in control of yourself.

        It also helps to understand that your child is a unique person with their own wants and desires and those wants and desires won’t always match yours. It is your job to respect that your child may have a different opinion and different wants while at the same time keeping that child safe. I think the best way to do that is respect. Respect your child. Respect your child’s talents. Respect your child’s beliefs. Respect your child’s belongings. At the same time you can’t let your child run wild and undisciplined. Your child needs guidance. Your child is special to you but not so special to anyone else. Your child needs to learn to treat all people with respect but also learn to be choosy about who to pick as a friend.

        I think I’ve succeeded in being a kind parent. My son, who is 25, is happy and confident and appears to have no resentment over his childhood. A few years ago he told my daughter that mom and dad can be annoying at times but they always have your best interests at heart. He also told her that there is one thing you always know you can depend on. Mom will always be there for you no matter what. You can always depend on mom. I think that is the best compliment I have ever had from anyone.

        I think if you treat your kids with respect and you are always there for them without being smothering you will be fine.

  2. LW, thank you for sending in your original letter and update. I feel like I (like many of us I assume), could really relate to your letter. In my case, it’s not just my dad, but my entire family that is radicalized and awful. I have had to cut ties with a lot of extended family members and it pains me that my own parents are on the list I’ve people I’d rather not to talk for awhile. My dad took upon himself to call my husband yesterday to rage about “idiots protesting and thinking they know everything and not doing their research like he did” which involves watching Fox News and talking to his racist neighbors. Except we were a part of “those idiots protesting” and we did in fact do our research.

    I think the hardest thing about reaching out to family members or friends like this, is they simply don’t want to hear facts or anything that doesn’t confirm with their idea of what is right. Someone (Trump and his minions) are finally echoing the thoughts they have been thinking all along, so now they are emboldened by their ideas. I have a cousin who is convinced “he is finally going to get to go on nice vacations like he deserves and make good money once we get rid of immigrants and refugees so white men could get the benefit of help finally” when he barely finished high school and refuses to work more than 36 hours a week or get more schooling “since higher education is just a scam”. I don’t know how to reason or discuss topics with someone like that since their vision of everything is so warped.

    I have definitely taken Wendy’s advice on this, and distanced myself even from my parents. I have deleted family off of Facebook, so my only interactions are face-to-face and limited. I end phone calls if my dad insists on talking politics. I leave the room when my in-laws insist on starting an argument. It is a sad way to approach family, but sometimes peace of mind is worth more than the drama and anger that comes up if you choose to constantly engage.

  3. SpaceySteph says:

    “Talking to him can be kind of difficult, because he has a tendency to deny having ever said things, or that I “took them the wrong way” or “he didn’t mean it like that.” He also has a tendency to paint women as “crazy” when they have emotions, so talking to him often means having my own father talk to me like I’m an irrational harpy”

    Tiffany, is that you?

    1. Blink twice if you want us to save you

    2. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I think Tiffany’s probably the best off of all of them. She lives on the west coast, away from the rest, and probably doesn’t see her dad much. If I had to choose one of them to be, it would be her. Melania’s probably the most trapped. I imagine if she leaves him, her son will be the one disadvantaged by it. So, yeah.

  4. I’m having this issue now, because I think my mom is starting to realize that I haven’t been talking to her as much. I decided this week to write her a letter since I tend to get emotional while trying to have a phone conversation. Now I’ve got to figure out how confrontational I want to be, or whether I just want to lay out how hurtful it is that she supported Trump, especially since my husband immigrated here when we got married, and although he was born in England, he is of Indian ancestry.

    1. I probably wouldn’t. But I will say, my husband went through the whole exercise of writing it out in an email to his (step)dad – everything that he felt when his dad sent us an email saying they voted “to make America great again.” I told him to let it sit overnight, and he didn’t end up sending it. I think he just sent one quick line about it being best not to talk about politics, and everything continued as before. I’d recommend the same for you, keep writing it out until the anger abates, but don’t send.

      1. Yeah, my policy in the past has always been to avoid talking politics at all, I’ve just been finding it harder lately to not say anything at all. I like your idea though, I wrote my email already – I’m definitely going to sit on it for awhile, maybe that will be enough.

      2. I read an article about something else recently that said to just sit down for 20 mins a day and write out your feelings about it, even if you’re just writing the same thing, until the hurt and anger and resentment go away.

  5. snoopy128 says:

    JFC..It’s only been 10 days of this hell….

  6. LW, it sounds like your other issues with your dad are the underlying problem, and his political choices are the catalyst for the current difficulties.

    I think its wrong to just automatically assume that someone who voted for Trump is a terrible person with close minded views, or supports every move he makes. If you try to get to the root of why a person voted for him, some will say they feel they didn’t have a choice, that he was the candidate “speaking to them” or acknowledging their socioeconomic class. There are many people who simply felt ignored by the Democratic candidate and chose the opposite. Does this make those people awful individuals? No, it makes them people who were backed into a corner and chose to vote for the only option they felt they had.

    What we cannot let happen is for this election, and this president, to rip families and friends apart. If you can meet someone halfway, you don’t have to agree with their reasons for their vote, but you can show that you respect their right to an opinion and maybe try to understand why they voted for the person they did. Obviously there are going to be individuals who feel that everything going on lately is 100% correct, and that’s someone you’re never going to change. But I think most people, when it comes down to it, are feeling that things like the immigration ban are too strict, even if they agree with parts of it.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I know what you’re saying, but the fact is that in order to vote for Trump, you had to say “well he’s saying all this awful bigoted stuff, which I don’t agree with, but I guess it’ll be ok as long as I get what I want”. Do you see what I mean? They’ll accept bigotry as long as it comes with benefits for them. Sorry, but the line between that and being a bigot themselves is so thin it’s basically non-existent.

      1. I do think there are a lot of older, frightened people in the US, particularly after the financial crisis.

      2. I get what you are saying as well, but not all people voted for him to get stuff they want. I know quite a few people who voted for him, family included, and they voted for him because they felt like Clinton would undermine their businesses, raise taxes, etc. The Affordable Care Act in particular has made things incredibly difficult for small business owners. Many of them are college educated, own businesses (one of which hires immigrants, ex-cons, and those with very limited capability to perform menial tasks, literally the categories of people not even fast food joints will hire), are well versed in financial matters. Most of these people live in a rural area, close to a major metro area, that has a high immigrant population, many of whom work on local farms. They felt that they had no other option. And as Kate said below, most of these people are older, mostly mid-50s and up, with some outliers on the younger side. Their businesses took a serious hit in 2008-2009.

        To lump everyone together as greedy people who want Trump to give them handouts is unfair, and more to the point, incorrect. The people I know that I voted for him have worked their butts off to get where they are in life, and saw aspects of his campaign as more palatable to them than Clinton’s. Again, they felt they had no option and that no one was looking out for their interests.

      3. My husband’s parents used to be total anti-establishment communists who hung out with the Black Panthers. They lived in the inner city and all their friends and neighbors were black. Well, now they’re in their 70s, in bad health, with no retirement savings, and she’s still working as a public defender for the kind of deadbeats who hit their wives and don’t pay child support. They really do think Trump is going to somehow make America great again.

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        @blink, but they DID vote to get what they wanted. They want the ACA gone, they want their taxes to stay low, etc. I never said it was for handouts. They said “well with her my taxes will go up, and with him other people will lose their rights. So, gotta go with him.” Sorry, but they did. You said it right at the end. They were looking out for their interests. It’s ok if other people lose their rights, as long as their interests are taken care of.

      5. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        People who voted for Trump are either dumb, racist/sexist/xenophobic, willfully ignorant, aggressively anti-abortion (and not “pro-life,” because to be in favor of life, you have to actually care about the lives of those already born) or incredibly selfish and short-sighted. I don’t see any other way to look at it. You either didn’t believe any of Trump’s campaign promises, in which case, you voted for someone you thought of as a liar. Or you did believe his campaign promises and thought they were great or you simply didn’t care how many lives would be ruined by them.

      6. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Exactly Wendy, you said it better than I did.

      7. Comma Lovr says:

        WRRRRS. No matter how backed into a corner you felt, you still implicitly endorsed bigotry, misogyny and fascism if you pushed that button for Trump. We all knew who he and Bannon were going in. They certainly didn’t hide anything.

    2. @RedRover – And its their right to believe that they shouldn’t have regulation upon regulation piled upon their businesses, taxes driven up to obscene levels. In theory, it all sounds great, but where does the money come from? From the pockets of the businesses, many of which, especially in the case of a small business, have to readjust their staff, hire HR consultants, potentially drop employees, many of whom would have extreme difficulty being hired elsewhere, due to their backgrounds. My family member personally pays the out of pocket insurance costs for his office employees – and that can be up to $6K-$7K a year on a family plan – because it would put him out of business to pay for a plan that fits state and federal regulations with a lower out of pocket cost. THAT is the problem in terms of insurance and why many business owners are angry about it. The system in place right now cannot be sustained long term without extreme tax hikes or having the industry regulated.

      @DearWendy – I’ve read this site for years, and I’ve always found you to be even handed with your advice. I have to say, the type of attitude you, and many others, have towards Trump voters is part of the problem. The attitude of oh look, a Trump voter, he must be an ignorant, sexist fool and those who didn’t vote for him never pass judgement, are open to all, is a lie. Because there is judgement, on both sides.

      I didn’t vote for either major candidate. And I’m glad. Because neither option fit my beliefs. But you’ve got people on both sides voting only for their party, voting for someone they don’t like because they refuse to vote for the other party, people who feel they haven’t been given a solid option and fall back on the party candidate.

      We are all human, we all make mistakes, we all have opinions, we all have the right to that opinion. I’m disgusted by what Trump is doing, but I get how people buy into it – there is a large portion of the population that feels like they are being passed over, walked upon, their jobs and businesses diminished or put an end to because of government assistance, immigrants, businesses taking manufacturing overseas. Whether or not this is true in every case, the fact remains that Trump spoke to those fears and that anger. That fear and anger is a powerful thing when it all comes together.

      I see it in the community where I grew up, which was heavily affected by 9/11, has lost countless farms and family businesses, has watched tax money being squandered on an interstate project that has lasted 20+ years and doesn’t get anywhere. They’ve watched a large “religious refugee” commune build up and taxpayers money go to that community which is known to misuse funds and perpetuate abuse. There are houses for sale and in foreclosure left and right because the property tax values have gone astronomically. It all creates a breeding ground for anger, hostility towards the perceived “enemy”. And in this election, for a lot of those people, it was Hilary Clinton.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yes, that’s absolutely their right to believe that. And it’s also their right to vote for someone bigoted to avoid that. But the fact remains that they were ok with having a bigot as a president, in order to get what they wanted. I don’t see how you can deny that. That’s literally what the people who “held their nose” did. They said, well, this isn’t ideal, but I’m gonna vote for him anyway. They looked out for themselves while voting in someone who was saying he would take rights away from others.

        I understand their reasoning, and I understand that they’re scared. But at the end of the day, when they had to choose, they chose the bigot. They didn’t even say “I can’t deal with either of these”. They went out and put a checkmark beside the bigot’s name. Knowing what he was going to do. And now he’s doing it. So I hope they’re happy.

      2. Kategreen says:

        Thank you, and seconded. I read what Wendy wrote above several times because I couldn’t believe how harsh and judgmental it is. And thought about commenting, but figured as a lowly lurker (for years), I’d better not. But just to piggy back of fl what you’ve written, I voted Hillary, I am a lifelong liberal, and the judgment and generalizations I’m seeing from liberals for the half of voters who voted Trump are incredibly unsettling, and a HUGE part of the problem. Take that compassion you have for the marginalized and please apply it universally. People, for the most part, don’t cast their vote because they want to screw over others. They’re doing what they think is right and what they believe will be good for their family and community. They make the best decisions they can, and it doesn’t make them racist or stupid. People voted for Trump for logical reasons and we have to stop stepping over each other to claim the highest moral superiority and acknowledge that. It doesn’t mean factors like racism and sexism weren’t at play here because of course they were, and we need to address those too. But racism and sexism are large social structures that shape discourse and norms. The fact that these structures had a heavy hand in shaping the election cannot be cleanly and unilaterally applied to individuals. Liberals are looking for people to blame and it’s a nice simple argument that all Trump voters are stupid or racist. But it’s just not that simple, it’s not true, and it’s making these divisions even wider.

      3. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:


        People who voted for Trump heard that horrible stuff Trump said — they heard him brag about grabbing women by their pussies, they heard him call Mexicans rapists, and they heard him call for a Muslim ban — and they voted for him anyway. They get zero compassion from me.

      4. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        And I didn’t say all Trump voters were all stupid or racists. I said they were either stupid, racist, willfully ignorant, aggressively anti-abortion, or incredibly selfish and shortsighted; guess you should have read what I wrote even a few more times.

      5. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I’m so glad you’re glad that you didn’t vote for either candidate. When our government and democracy is overthrown, hope you can continue sitting easy with your decision.

      6. I keep hearing this taxes and taxes piled up, but it isn’t so. Taxes were this high under Reagan. Taxes were far higher under Eisenhower. The share of government revenues coming from businesses is at just about an all-time low, while business profits were at an all-time high.

      7. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I never said they voted for Trump to screw others over. I said they voted for Trump *knowing* that a side effect would be that others get screwed over, and that was an acceptable consequence for them. Which is true.

      8. RedRoverRedRover says:

        And further to Ron’s point, the only real way to bring taxes down for the middle class is to tax the rich more. Can you really see Trump doing that? So if that’s someone’s reasoning, not only do they find bigotry acceptable at some level, but they also got suckered by Trump.

      9. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I.e., dumb.

      10. Kategreen says:

        Wendy, I don’t know how to reply directly to your comments (that were replying to my comment), but yes, you did say a long list of things besides racist/stupid. I mean, I feel like your response back is a good example of what I’m trying to say. I said that I’m a liberal and I voted for Hillary – I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m trying to actually discuss this in good faith, and that I’m not at all trying to attack you. But your reply makes it clear that you would rather take the worst interpretation of what I’m trying to say and then shut down the conversation by telling me to read more thoroughly? When I think you know what I was trying to say, and it doesn’t really change what I said by pointing that out? Just to what, make me feel stupid? Get me to shut up? I mean, that’s fine, you are entitled to your opinion and of course this is your space, not mine. So I WILL shut up after I say one last thing: Trump and his combative and hostile attitude – everything in extremes, you’re with me or you’re against me, no one deserves the benefit of the doubt, whoever talks louder wins, insult people that disagree with you – is setting a tone and EVERYone is following it, including liberals, as evidenced by some of the dismissive and combative attitudes we’ve all seen or written ourselves online. Another incredibly important way to counter Trump is to NOT allow that toxic kind of attitude to infest our side. To not let that kind of venomous discourse take over. It divides.

        Anyway, I’m out. Back to lurking for me.

      11. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        And I whole-heartedly disagree with that. Democrats need to get a spine, quit trying to compromise and play nice, and be hostile, combative and extreme with anything Trump-related/ Trump-approved/ Trump-motivated. I don’t care if “it divides,” as you say. We’re already divided. We’re already at war with each other. Now it’s time to start playing the game the way the republicans have been playing it so well. And they most certainly have NOT been compassionate and understanding and looking to compromise.

      12. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        For what it’s worth, drew agrees with you I think (I just talked to him about this comment thread). He says we need the middle-of-the-road trump voter and to not alienate them with vitriol (my interpretation, not his words verbatim). I will admit, I am incredibly angry – not irrationally by any means, but I will think a bit about how to best sustain outrage while trying not to further divide.

      13. They may also be mentally ill. I think that’s what’s going on with my husband’s parents. They’re highly educated – he was a professor and she’s an attorney – and were very liberal and activist in the past. I think they’re losing it and are old and scared and feeling desperate and left behind. Their behavior is definitely becoming increasingly erratic.

      14. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Those are a couple other reasons people may have voted for Trump: mental illness and dementia from old age.

      15. Kategreen says:

        Wendy – thanks. I do agree with Drew.

        And also to Red Rover – I def didn’t mean to put words in your mouth. When I said people don’t vote with the aim of screwing others over, I was not trying to imply that you ( or Wendy, or anyone!) had said that here on this thread. I was just trying to make the point the people do what they think is right. But your response to that is right. It’s really the hallmark of white/male (and so on) privilege to be able to overlook the the racist and sexist (and so on) consequences of voting for Trump.

      16. I’m of the opinion that we don’t need the middle-of-the-road Trump voter. What we need are the people who didn’t vote (or couldn’t vote). The voter turnout for Trump is about the same as for anyone under the Republican umbrella. Right now, voting is at about 50-60% of eligible voters. The likelihood of laws further restricting voting rights is going to hurt this even more. Me and Bassanio have talked about this issue at length and have different ideas on how to combat that, or how people would vote if more people voted. But I think we need to address the non-voters before the barely-Trump voters (I don’t think Bassanio has an opinion on that).

        Also, with everyone who voted for Trump to get rid of the ACA stuff, do they forget the horror stories from just a few years ago of hospital bills bankrupting people and insurance dropping coverage left and right? Like, those have not been in the narrative for a while for a reason. I wonder how long it’ll take for those stories to start cropping up again and to bite those congressmen without an ACA replacement plan.

      17. This is something I’ve talked about with my therapist. It’s okay to judge other people’s values as not compatible with yours.

        Being judgement isn’t the worst thing in the world. How much of the advice on this site is to individuals who are in crappy situations because they’re afraid of being judgmental?

        We have to decide when it’s okay for us to trust our judgment. Empathy is wonderful when used well. As we’ve learned from many many letters, it isn’t always the most appropriate answer.

        Choosing finances, business, economics over social rights and concerns? Sure that’s a valid choice. I think it’s gross. Call me judgemental. That’s my value system.

      18. (To be clear, I think we can have both social rights and business, financial, etc interests. Seems like such a not real choice even though it’s often presented that way)

    3. LW here!

      Just writing to say that while my father’s personal treatment of me is a problem, it’s not the reason why his vote upset me. I would still be incredibly offended that he flippantly voted the rights of his daughter away, and the rights of others. While his sexism on the micro-level is hurtful, his willingness to vote for someone who only sees women as pussies to grab to run the nation is deeply offensive.

      I am upset about his sexism and racism, in his words and his vote. Even if he were the perfect father, I would still be upset about the way he voted.

      I also refuse to meet someone halfway, when they won’t budge a single inch (personally or politically). I even tried talking to him about everything going on in the US when I saw him this weekend, and his response was “I don’t like to talk about politics.” If you cared enough to vote for Trump, you don’t get to just opt-out of caring about the way his decisions affect others.

  7. LisforLeslie says:

    Oh LW – your dad sounds like my dad. “I love you and would never intentionally do anything to hurt you.” “You took that the wrong way, I did not mean to hurt your feelings” and my favorite: “I couldn’t hurt your feelings because I love you.”

    My dad was a big ol’ Reganite and thought he was the bees knees. I’m glad my dad died before any of this nonsense because where we had been somewhat estranged – we would move into full no-contact.

    Your dad has succumbed to his feelings (so much for being the less emotional sex huh?) and he can not reconcile facts against how he feels. His position as a white man is threatened because if everyone has some, he doesn’t have the most. If everyone has an equal playing field, then he has to do more to prove he is worthy – but since he’s always started at the higher level, bringing people to a more equitable start “Feels” like others get a benefit that he doesn’t . It’s perspective and it takes a really self-reflective person to see things from someone else’s perspective.

    At this point – you could show your dad facts and figures and it won’t matter a lick because that doesn’t jibe with his sense of how the world works and how it’s unfair to him.

    You can’t make yourself heard. He can’t hear you – because his identity is wrapped up in this. At some point, perhaps, maybe, possibly, Trump and his puppet master Bannon may go too far for your Dad. If so, welcome him back. Until then – keep him at arms length knowing that your dad is a dickhead. Sorry.

  8. RedRoverRedRover says:

    I’m so sick of hearing “white men get blamed for everything”. Where on earth is this coming from??? My husband’s a white man, he doesn’t get it either. Like, I’m white but I don’t feel like I’m to blame for racism. Is this just a way of lashing out at loss of privilege? Oh, and don’t even mention privilege to these kinds of guys, they don’t understand it at all. So frustrating.

    1. You know where it’s coming from. 40 years ago you could be a white guy with a HS education or even not have a diploma, and support your family with a job in manufacturing or something. You could be the man! Well, you can’t anymore. A lot of those jobs are lost to automation. Who do you blame? Immigrants of course. Those American jobs that white men deserve must all be going to Mexicans.

      And for another type of white man, they were superior to women. They were more likely to have a college degree. They were smarter. Women stayed home and took care of things. But then they started getting all uppity, didn’t they? They started thinking they were just as good as men. They had the nerve to get more education and compete for jobs. And omg same with people who aren’t white!

      I know where it’s coming from, I just think it’s ignorant and completely absurd. They don’t think they’re racist or sexist either.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I get the anger part. I don’t get the “blame” part.

      2. Oh well, because people are calling them out for their racism and sexism and making them feel like bad little boys.

      3. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yes, probably true.

      4. Here’s an example: my uncle was waiting in the security line at the airport and couldn’t get to his things because two guys were standing there putting on their belts or whatever. He asked them politely to step aside. They ignored them. He asked again. One of them told him to take his white privilege and stick it up his ass. See? They’re angry and they’re not afraid to speak up anymore. And guys like my uncle are so affronted and hurt that everyone thinks they’re bad and assholes and cannot believe anyone would think that of them! Why is everything their fault? Why are women mad at them?! Get it now?

        My uncle actually followed the guy to his fucking gate to try to talk to him and convince him he’s cool and doesn’t “see color.” Yeeaaahhhh.

      5. My uncle didn’t get it either and was all “poor me.” His sisters had to explain it to him. And his childhood friend who isn’t white. He told him to take some anti-racist training.

      6. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Oh yeah, actually that reminds me of one… this guy on imgur commented on how he gets called out for “being white”. So I asked him when that had ever happened to him. He said he was at a bar, and the news was on where a black man had just gotten shot by police at a routine traffic stop. There was a woman there freaking out and calling the police names and saying this could happen to her boyfriend. Our hero apparently goes up to her and tells her not to worry because statistically the chances of her boyfriend being the one who gets stopped and shot is pretty low. She went off on him, telling him that he has no idea what he’s talking about and he doesn’t have to worry about it because he’s white. I tried to explain to him why *he* was the one who caused that situation, he didn’t get it. He didn’t see why what he said was at best completely tone-deaf and at worst insulting. All he saw was that he was trying to “help” and he got “attacked” for being white. So yeah. This is what we’re dealing with, I guess.

      7. Kate I don’t get it either. Your uncle politely asked two men to move so he could reach his things, and they told him to “take his white privilege and shove it up his ass”?? If I was your uncle I’d be confused too, that’s a mean an unwarranted thing to say in response to a simple “excuse me I need to get something that’s behind you.”

      8. Have you thought about that story from the perspective of the two men? I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not black, racial minority, nor male, and I’d love to hear the perspective of someone who would experience it through those lenses, but I’ll take a shot because no one else is.

        Anyway, these guys are in front of their stuff, getting their things in order, and some white guy asks them to move out of the way. He is not anyone special or a person of authority, everyone got through the same procedure, they’re probably a little annoyed at having to take their belts off (who wouldn’t be?) and he can wait his turn. They don’t owe him an explanation. The white guy then continues to assert his right to inconvenience them, something they might hear as him saying he’s owed special privileges, the TSA equivalent of “get to the back of the bus.” So they’re pissed and express that anger at the guy because they no longer have to roll over and are not currently fearing for their lives. In addition to history, think about what those two have been seeing recently about how black men are treated by white men of authority. So unless it was someone with a gun and/or badge and I was in their shoes with their experiences, I might be more likely to push back and take it out on someone asserting their privilege. The guy didn’t just say this once, nicely, then accept it when they didn’t go out of their way to be helpful. Instead he kept on it, then followed the guys to their gate to argue with them!

      9. @S., this is secondhand from my mom. I’m not sure exactly what my uncle’s words and body language were in that situation, but clearly it provoked a reaction, warranted or not. Perhaps that man was simply just fed up with white privilege.

      10. As an analogy, I can absolutely see being in a bad or stressed mood, having some guy tell me to smile, and telling him to take his advice and shove it up his ass. I’m not sure if you’re a woman or a man, but do you get that?

      11. I still don’t understand it Kate. When I travel, and pick up my stuff after security check, I move to one side and put on my shoes and jacket and repack my laptop. I don’t block the 10 people behind me from doing the same. I don’t act act like a jerk and think that is standing up for my self.

      12. All right, then all I can say to you guys who don’t get it is, we don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

        I will add that I got in a huge fight with my uncle when I was 19 and had just taken Anthropology 101, and he was trying to make a case for LGBTQ people not to be able to be members of his church. I screamed at him that it’s people like him who make the world a crappy place. And I’m not the only one. His wife, sisters, and best friend from childhood have been telling him for years that his beliefs are racist and sexist. So yeah, I side with the two black guys here.

        I’ll tell you what, that kind of thing NEVER happens to people like my dad, my husband, my guy friends, in whom I see no sign of racism. I think that says a lot.

      13. It’s also quite possible they were waiting for some of their things to come out on the conveyor belt. You don’t walk away at that point.

  9. And it’s not even loss of privilege, not really. It’s having to share privilege.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Well, that’s loss of privilege. If everyone has privilege, no one has it. Privilege is specifically when you get stuff no one else gets, for no good reason. (Or when you don’t get negative things that other people get, for no good reason.)

  10. A bit off topic perhaps but is your Dad a drinker? My Mom denies saying hurtful, angry things all the time and we (the kids) have decided it’s due to all the brain cells she’s killed as a major drunk.
    I hate this presidency and everything it’s doing to our country and our sense of security.

    1. Actually not much of a drinker at all! Occasional beer here or there. He’s just genuinely that in denial…

  11. Glad to see this update, and the comments! I’m at an impasse with my parents. We’re basically not speaking. I asked them for some time to “process and grieve” after Nov 9th, and a couple weeks later wrote them asking if they support him, and if they do, why they support him? I was hoping for a response like “well we don’t like him, but supreme court justices…” or something. I likely wouldn’t agree, but I so badly wanted reassurance they aren’t cool with the racism, sexism, making fun of disabled, etc.

    Did I get that? Nah. My dad got pissed.

    He wrote me: “Why can’t you just let it go? You’ve got your views and we’ve got ours and we’ll never convince one another who is right.
    Right now you are the one putting a wall between us and it’s your choice whether to continue to make this an issue.
    So in the future send pleasant, kind and respectful e-mails or don’t.”

    So, I guess I won’t.

    1. Comma Lovr says:

      Oh God, that’s exactly where I am with my folks. My dad is a life-long Republican, and we’ve disagreed before (vehemently!), but this has torn me away from him, possibly permanently. I’m heartbroken. But I can’t have a relationship with someone who denigrates everything I believe in and lives in his affluent, white gated community in Florida without ever emerging from his bubble.

      I actually did send him an email and am stressed out beyond belief, waiting for an answer. Or more likely, a non-answer. He may not answer at all, because that would involve encountering feelings.

    2. Ugggh, that sounds familiar. I tried talking about what’s been going on with my dad to get his opinion this past weekend, and now all of a sudden he “doesn’t like to talk about politics.”


      Putting up a wall in your relationship(as anoninLA pointed out, very pointed way of saying that)… but who will pay for this wall???

      I mean, from my experience, trying to get reassurance from my dad that’s he’s not racist or sexist just convinced me even more that he is racist and sexist… as you can see from the tirade he went on. It’s just extra disappointing when it’s your own parents buying into it.

      I can’t imagine what it’s like to have both parents buy into Trump’s foolishness.

      1. Some of the Trump support clearly is a reaction to economic woes in the heartland, but I think a huge chunk of it is culture — the last stand for white Christian male privilege. Certainly societal change is very jarring, especially for older people, when it happens quickly. The change is public opinion on gay marriage was very fast, but it was powered by the under-45s. Trump’s strength is older than that. For them, the move from talking about gay marriage, to it being legal everywhere, to people being fined for not providing services for gay weddings, to the bathroom rules was too much too soon. Your evangelical great aunt Mildred got a bad case of the vapors.

        I think the biggest objectionable change for the Trump voters, however, was the prospect of going from a black man in the oval office to a woman in the oval office. That was white male privilege smashed at the presidential level in just 8 years, and they revolted to maintain their privilege. And their wives, who see their husband’s success as their success went along with the revolt. Obama was the first president in the history of our nation who wasn’t a white, Christian male. Over our long history, that’s really saying something. Hillary would have been the second exception. That’s the passing of an age. An age which held on longer in our country than just about any democracy in the world. People thought that office was the reserved for white, Christian males.

        And yes, it was that racist. When the majority of Republicans believe, against all the evidence presented, that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, we are talking very serious racism, the kind which ignores objective evidence to preserve itself. Sexism is just as strong in this age group.

        Yes, people had other issues, but I don’t think the economics or foreign policy issues drove more than 5% percent of Trump’s vote. The change most of his voters wanted was a return to white, Christian, male Republicans in the oval office. It was a tribal thing.

        Really, if this were truly an economic thing, then Obama would be praised for rescuing us from the GWB catastrophic economy. If it were anger at the rich taking all the money and moving the jobs out of the country, then Trump and the Rs wouldn’t dare mention tax breaks for the rich. If it were about so many people hurting financially, the Rs wouldn’t dare talk seriously about killing the ACA without a replacement, turning Medicaid into less costly grants to the states, and privatizing Medicare, which means either higher taxes or fewer $ going to medical providers.

  12. Wendy, you’re awesome. I really admire you for your involvement and determination to make a change. I feel like I know more about American politics than my own, just because of everything that has been going on in the media. But I’m feeling inspired to learn more about what’s going on in my own country.

  13. AlwaysALurker says:

    I went to bed seething at some of the comments defending Trump voters and asking that we give them a chance and not divide. So, I decided that similar to what some of commenters recommended, I would mull over it and try to get my point across with reason.

    It is extremely disturbing that I continue to here requests to be understanding of Trump voters from progressives as a young girl (whose parents are in the US) is being deported to Yemen where the US just had a ‘covert’ operation that killed over 50 civilians many of whom were young girls and did not achieve an ounce of stability or safety for the US. In this flood of let’s understand Trump voters more, I have not heard a single peep from Trump voters condemning this executive order. All I keep hearing is, oh but really why can’t we vet them more. Where are the ‘good’ Trump voters.

    These are legal visa holders, residents, green card holders being deported. The process for me to get a Green Card has taken over 2 years and is still not over (even though I have lived in the US legally for over half my life and have been “vetted” several times).

    As for the ‘root cause’ for why ‘good’ people voted for him. I work in economic development and have two graduate level degrees in business and finance. There is absolutely no comment, speech, policy or proposal that Trump has proposed that would in ANY way improve the lives of the majority of Trump voters. The ONLY people it would help are the already rich. Anybody who claims that they voted based on ‘economic’ arguments is talking out of their ass and is either willfully ignorant, trying to hide their bigoted views or are in the throes of dementia. Just look at all the examples of bigotry given by the commenters here and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Hate crimes have gone up all over the country and still no condemnation by ‘good’ Trump supporters. All I heard was whining about the women’s marches. Please spare people these straw man arguments – especially when there are people facing death and persecution that are affected by Cheetolini and his neo-Nazi advisers.

    1. I’m with you. Either they believed his silly BS about jobs and excused the bigotry because it was really ok with them (I’m from a New Hampshire mill town and a very mixed-economic MA suburb originally, and racism is RAMPANT even up here, I’m sorry everyone who thinks they’re not racist), or they genuinely liked what he was saying, or maybe they were fooled by the fake news about evil Hillary and were ignorant enough to think they were picking the *lesser* of “two evils.” Spoiler alert: you didn’t. No matter how you look at it, it ranges from ignorant to sucker to dumb to just bad.

    2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      I have not heard one Trump voter, either in person or online in the many, many comments I have read from them, express disgust over these executive orders (or the increased hate crimes in Trump’s name). Instead, they’re either silent or they applaud.

      1. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        For the record, I have a few Trump-voting friends who have expressed disgust. I’m not saying they’re the majority by any means, but the ones around me in particular believe that the ban of green card and visa-approved immigrants is a bridge too far, that not letting NEW immigrants in isn’t the same as barring EVERYONE. And while I disagree with the concept of the ban in its entirety, new and old, it’s at least a tiny bit heartening to me to know that some people are starting to realize that if you give Trump an inch he takes a mile.

        (Also, the Sally Yates thing pissed A LOT of Republican lawyers off here. I’ve yet to meet one who thinks her firing was justified.)

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Well, that’s a little heartening, at least.

    3. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Don’t forget all the people right in the US who are going to die when the ACA is gone and replaced with nothing. Including, probably, a bunch of Trump voters. Think about that. They voted in someone whose policies will literally kill them.

      1. AlwaysALurker says:

        @RedRover – The highest per capita users of the ACA are in Trump country. It is absolutely the glorification of ignorance! It is about feelings – and not surprisingly mostly feelings of anger and fear – rather than facts or empathy. Human beings do not think properly when they are angry and afraid and combined with willful ignorance this is what we get!

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        One thing I’m hopeful about, in terms of the ACA, is that people got a taste of what it could be like. They have a slight safety net right now. When it gets pulled from them, they’ll realize how valuable it was, and fight to get it back. And hopefully will also be more open to listening how healthcare works, and works fairly well, in a lot of other countries. We’ll see. That’s my hope, anyway.

      3. Sadly, I think a lot of Trump voters don’t realize that ObamaCare and ACA are the same thing. I saw a number of posts by idiots saying ObamaCare has got to go! But they won’t be affected because they’re not on ObamaCare, they’re using the Affordable Care Act….

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        @Dre, I know, but they’ll sure realize it once it’s gone!

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