|A Dark Time|
This is not the first time the fabric of my family has been ruptured by politics. The American revolution pitted a 7th great uncle against his own great nephew. The uncle fought on the side of the Patriots, his great nephew joined a British regiment in Canada. Mid-way through the strife, the nephew's family was driven from their New York home, their property was seized, and they fled, wife and several small children, to Canada to join the Loyalists.
During the Civil War some of my ancestors fought for the North. General James Longstreet, a third cousin 5x removed, fought for the South. I remember reading of families torn apart in that war by allegiances and wondered how that could be. Wasn't the love between family members strong enough to overcome different political viewpoints? I was sure my own would be.
I grew up with a Republican father and a mother active in the Democratic party. I registered as an Independent as soon as I was old enough to vote. In the 60s and 70s I was for desegregation and against the Vietnam War. (My father and I simply could not see eye to eye on my pacifist vs his militaristic viewpoint and had to agree to not talk politics with one another if we were going to continue to talk with one another at all.) Familial love won out; we refused to argue over presidents and policies and were able to love one another despite our differences.
Come Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016, however, I had to face the fact that maybe love alone isn't enough to maintain a relationship. It isn't that the love is extinguished, not if it's the kind that ties heart to heart despite differences. That love may be sorely tested, as was mine and my father's. But respect, an integral part of any relationship, and acceptance, essential for any lasting connection, can be overridden by disbelief and an inability to comprehend the justifications of another.
So I wake every morning now with a stomach ache and a feeling of dread that puzzles me until I am fully awake and remember, oh yeah, Trump has been elected and some of my friends and relatives voted for him. Some of them are Hilary haters, but no matter how they justify their vote, I can't help but wonder, does that mean they approve of Trump's behavior? Of his lying and cheating both in his private and working life (and his evident pride in that), his lack of morals, his verbal attacks on people of color, or those with disabilities, people of the LGBTQ communities, or those whose religion doesn't match his? Do they think his cavalier attitude toward women is acceptable? Or the fact that he brags about the loopholes he used to not pay his taxes? Does the violence that he subtly encourages not bother them? How about his ties to too-big-to-fail banks and moneyed insiders or the people he choses to surround himself with? If they don't necessarily approve, does that mean they are willing to overlook these things?
I don't know how to reconcile my rejection of everything Trump stands for with their acceptance of it. "What about Hilary?" they ask. "What about her corruption?" I tell them I can repudiate Trump's behavior without approving Clinton's. "I could not, in all good conscience, vote for that woman," they tell me. Where was that good conscience when it came to Trump?
I don't like the feeling of divide that I sense between us. I hate thinking that I didn't see the latent racism, the hidden bigotry and xenophobia, the intolerance, or that if I did, I excused it with an oh-everyone-is-entitled-to-their own-opinion insouciance. I'm sorry I didn't ask more questions or listen more intently. It breaks my heart to see friends and family pitted against each other. I hope, but I'm not positive, that love will triumph.