By Mabel Lewis
From the beginning of this election cycle, I never saw Donald Trump as a serious or realistic presidential candidate. But now I feel called upon to change my view, if for no other reason than I have around me a number of people who have become his supporters. This includes a loved one very close to me, my own dear husband.
In the past, politics have not been a big deal in our household, but this time, things are different. Although I have historically been more conservative in my political views, I consider myself an Independent, and I want to be able to vote for whichever candidate appeals the most. My husband, on the other hand, has been more consistently Republican. But it seems we’ve always been able to agree on some basic fundamentals about what we think government should be like.
This time, however, we find ourselves at a real impasse when it comes to the political arena. This election, it seems not so much about policy as it is about personalities. To be fair, neither my husband nor I are thrilled with either major party candidate. Both are quite flawed, with lots of baggage. At this point, I am leaning towards Hillary Clinton. I support the message of unity in her campaign, and I believe she’s qualified and capable to do the job. Further, I could never see myself voting for Donald Trump. And frankly, I have struggled to understand why anyone would.
In the beginning, I saw Donald Trump as a bit of joke, adding a lot of entertainment value to those early primary debates. But as time wore on, I found him more and more offensive. And then more and more alarming. And at times, downright frightening. So it was hard for me to reconcile it when I realized that my husband was quietly moving in Trump’s direction. Although my husband hadn’t voted for Trump in the primary, he was starting to warm up to him; he was getting on board the Trump train, and it was quickly moving away from the station. How could that have happened? What could he possibly see in this guy?
Clearly, Donald Trump has struck a chord with individuals like my husband and his other supporters. They feel angry, frustrated, and fed up. They have been silently simmering inside about what is going on in the world outside, and this has been churning and building for a while. Things are not going as they should in this country and in the world. Things are moving further and further away from the values and ideals we should all hold dear. The current government certainly isn’t doing anything about it; in fact, they are responsible for it! What can be done and who can they turn to? Even their own Republican party has become dysfunctional and useless.
So here comes Donald Trump. He is big and loud and tells it like he sees it and isn’t afraid to get right in your face. He breaks the rules and flies in the face of convention and flips his finger at the establishment and wow, look what happens. . . he wins the nomination! Maybe there is hope here after all. He’s a proven negotiator, isn’t he? Maybe this guy really can turn this ship around. Sure he’s got some obvious character faults, but they’re really not that bad, are they? Sure, some of his policy positions are a bit wonky at this point, but heck, he’s not a politician; all that can be straightened out later. He’ll have a good set of advisors, and he’ll listen to them. Believe them. It’s worth a shot, right? And besides. . . what’s the alternative? Hillary Clinton? There’s no way they could ever see themselves voting for that horrible woman!
I must admit it came as a surprise when my husband expressed his feelings of hatred towards Hillary Clinton. Yes, hatred. Do her faults, flaws, and baggage really warrant such extreme feelings? When I asked my husband why he felt this way, he wasn’t really able to answer. Perhaps he doesn’t fully understand himself. Somehow she represents the antithesis of what all this should be about. The epitome of political correctness. The administrator of a great vat of kool-aid which the rest of us are all drinking. My husband fears for me; that I have already been lost to this toxic elixir and will never be able to find my way back.
When my husband finally opened up and started telling me how he felt, it was a bit like the cork blew off the bottle. Out came the outrage and the anger and the fear. Out came the feelings he had been trying to keep down and keep under control. I could see something there I hadn’t seen before. My husband was really worried, really upset, and really threatened. He wants something to be done about it. He wants to feel safer and more secure and more sure about the future again. He wants things to be the way they’re supposed to be, for gosh sakes. And Donald Trump, despite all he brings with him, is the only one out there who seems to understand that, and who is going to fight for it. And that is what matters most right now.
When I realized this, when I realized how my husband was really feeling deep down, it changed things for me. We really do have something in common here. This isn’t about going off half-cocked; my husband really does care. We both really care. Yes, we see things very differently, we disagree on most everything about this election, but we both do care.
Guess I’m going to have to make more room for Donald Trump in my life. It doesn’t matter if my husband makes room for Hillary Clinton. I do it on my side, anyway. Our views of these candidates are like the flip sides of a coin, and that is a bit awkward and strange. But if we’re going to stay together and connected in our relationship, I think this is the only way. Make room for Donald Trump in my house. He’s already here anyway, hiding out in the shadows of my husband’s thoughts and feelings, suppressed and avoiding the subject when I’m around. May as well bring him on out into the light. Let him be here and respect his perspective. Maybe even appreciate what he brings to the table. I can disagree with him, and tell him so if I want to. But I let go the resistance and the criticism and the judgment, and remain open to what he has to say.
And as I decide this, I feel things open up for me. I feel better. I can see the bigger picture. And I sense a new confidence that I can go forward from here in a more constructive way. I know now that while my husband and I are on very different pages regarding this election, and see things in very different ways, deep down, we both care about what’s going on and we both want things to be okay. This is what we have in common. Remembering that will help me stay connected, even as things heat up in the coming weeks, and no matter what happens in the darn election.