As I ride down Highway 58 from my house to my job as an adjunct professor a few miles away at Barton College, I can count at least thirty-five yard signs supporting Donald Trump in the upcoming election. “Keep America Great!” they exclaim. My neighbor has three signs in his yard; someone down the road has about ten (plus a Confederate flag).
Just one look at my car as I am driving down this road to work definitely lets folks know how I feel about Donald Trump, and I guess, how much I do not fit in with my neighbors…One of my bumper stickers states, “Literally ANYONE ELSE 2020.” (I bought this one before we knew who was going to run against Trump in 2020, but it really did not matter who it was…literally anyone else would be an improvement.) Another has a picture of Trump’s hair with the word “No” in front of it. (This one is my favorite…subtle, yet witty) To say that Donald Trump’s presidency has changed my life is an understatement. Since the shocking (and somewhat questionable) results of the 2016 election, Trump has impacted my relationships and my political engagement in ways I never would have imagined when I voted against him in November of 2016.
The causes of my feelings for Donald Trump have many layers and probably go all the way back to my childhood or something. I am a sore loser. If you saw me at my kids’ soccer games, you know that. I mean, I really wanted Hillary Clinton to win in 2016 and was so excited about that election. She was supposed to be the first female President!! I loved her story; she had weathered so much because of her husband’s shenanigans; she had forged ahead with her own path and career that were separate from his; yet she still loved him and wanted to stay with him. She somehow managed to be an involved mother and was a role model for women who struggled with the old stereotypes of motherhood. Yes, we can work and be good moms! That was a message I needed to hear. No, she was not “warm” sometimes, as her critics said, but why is warmth a requirement for women but not for men anyway? Is Donald Trump warm?
Another cause for my Trump disdain stems from who he is…a powerful, racist, sexist, disgustingly rich white man with more money than sense and no moral compass whatsoever. No wonder the Christian evangelicals love him, right? Seriously, most people thought he was a joke and were as shocked as I was that he became the Republican candidate. One would think the Access Hollywood tape would have been enough for people to see the light, but no, the excuses began there: “Aww, that’s locker room talk. All men do that.” Do they? If so, that sheds light on what men really think of women, I guess…but I digress. After that tape, the excuses and the rationalizing have not stopped. “He tells it like it is” became a good quality, a way to “drain the swamp” of D.C. and make us all “great,” right?
Probably the strongest cause for my feelings regarding Trump’s election is my strong convictions about injustice. Something did not seem right about his win. Even people who voted for him were surprised. How did it happen? Did Russian bots really influence people so much? Did the “fake news” of Pizzagate actually convince voters that Hillary was involved in child trafficking? Did James Comey and Hillary’s emails make people question her trustworthiness so much that they picked Trump over her? She won the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes over Trump. America voted for her, not him, so that does not seem fair, but we do have that confusing electoral college thing that counts more than popular votes. No, the one thing that gnaws at my sense of injustice, the thing that “gets my goat,” as we Southerners say, is that people simply did not want to elect a woman. I know some will say that is not true, but at the heart of the whole matter of why Trump won, to me, is that America is used to patriarchy, and we still cannot seem to envision how much better a woman could lead this country if given the chance.
Donald Trump has impacted my relationships with loved ones, and that is infuriating. My brother Greg, a retired Coast Guard officer, has upset me many times with his Trump jokes and jabs, but I know that at the end of the day Greg loves me and just doesn’t understand my perspective. My dad is still on the Trump train, but I attribute that to his age of eighty-four, his watching of Fox News, and his inability to accept that we are no longer living in the 1950s when women were expected to be quiet about politics or any important issue and should just stay at home, dear, and wait on your husband. My own husband voted for Trump in 2016, so #itscomplicated is an understatement. I guess there really are things called autonomy, free will, making our own decisions, respecting differences, being mature adults … or maybe just deciding it is not safe to talk about politics in the house because Hell hath no fury like Kathy Proctor on the day after the 2016 election — or even four years later. Maybe the election of Donald Trump has turned me into an angry woman who is really hard to live with sometimes, but we have managed to handle the conflicts. (Banning Fox News from the house has helped, and as for the fate of our 36-year marriage, I will let you know after he casts his vote this year. 😉)
Because people voted for Donald Trump in 2016, he now has the opportunity to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice to fill RBG’s seat. That means we will watch as slowly but surely the women’s rights that others have worked to obtain for decades will be whittled away. Affordable health care for all will fade like a fond memory of better times when we cared about each other. MY OWN DAUGHTER will have to get married quickly in a courthouse instead of having the fabulous wedding planned for August 2021.
Surprisingly, Donald Trump has impacted my life in a positive way, too. Because of the devastating (and questionable) results of the 2016 election, I have become more politically engaged. On the day after the election, when I was in absolute shock, I began my search for WTF happened. I began with my podcast people for some answers, and Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” podcast absolutely changed my life. She happened to have two women, Sarah and Beth, on one of her podcasts. These two women, “Sarah from the left, Beth from the right,” have taught me so much through their “Pantsuits Politics” podcast. Four long years later, I listen to them every week, twice a week. I bought their book, I Think You’re Wrong, but I’m Listening, to help navigate the difficult nuances of my relationships with Trump voters. I have learned about policies instead of just basing my politics on feelings for the underdog. I have learned to try to get to the heart of why someone I love would have voted for Trump in the first place. While I still do not understand how someone could vote for TRUMP, I do understand how someone could vote for a Republican. Don’t get me wrong: I am not a Republican AT ALL, but I see the viewpoints of those who are…or at least the ones who are “John McCain Republicans.” That says something for a woman who has never really cared about Presidential elections.
Because of Trump’s election, I have learned to discuss politics with people who actually know what they are talking about. With Sarah and Beth (who is no longer on the right!) and my other new podcast “The Daily,” I have followed every step of the 2020 election. I have anxiously awaited the results of the primaries, learning truly fascinating things like how the Iowa caucus works. Because of Trump’s election, I have learned that it is not only okay but absolutely necessary for women to express opinions about politics. Because of Trump’s election, Kelly and I have discovered “The West Wing ” and commiserated with each other because we don’t have a President as decent and good as Jed Bartlet. Because of Trump’s election, I have learned how to search the CDC website to be able to keep my family safe during the Coronavirus pandemic when our “leader” was calling it a “Democratic hoax,” saying it would “disappear,” and holding superspreader events while not wearing a mask. Because of Trump, I have even increased my vocabulary, using words like “narcissist,” “xenophobe,” “misogynist” “bigot,” “autocrat,” and “authoritarian” more than ever. 😜 More importantly, Trump has opened my eyes to some issues in America that I never knew existed: Can America be “great again,” really? It seems to be it has not been “great” for some people ever. Look at it right now in the midst of a pandemic, a racial reckoning about police brutality and the justice system, and an economic crisis. Trump’s America is far from great.
Yes, I am a sore loser, and I am still hurting from the 2016 election, but the reasons go far beyond the soccer-mom kind. Donald Trump’s presidency has impacted my life in ways I never thought possible back when I was so excited to vote for the first female President in America. And, while at my core I think it is tacky to have political yard signs and bumper stickers, I will proudly drive my little car down Highway 58 as a nonviolent protest against the madness of anyone thinking Donald Trump as President for four more years could in any way be called “great.”