Political differences are often seen as a ticking time bomb in many families. During one of the most controversial presidential elections in recent history, I did not expect my household to become a battleground of political differences.
As time has passed, I managed to accept my mother’s support of Donald Trump and attempted to understand her perspective. Her support for Trump stems from her fear of big government and her background, and while I don’t agree, I do understand why.
It hasn’t always been easy to maintain a relationship with my mother over the past few months due to our political differences. As I spent time at home in the San Francisco East Bay this past summer, I watched my mom listen to Fox News, attend Trump rallies, and fashion a Trump t-shirt and matching hat. I’ve had Trump signs stolen from my front lawn and I’ve gotten into screaming matches with my mother in our kitchen over politics. I silently stalked my mother’s public Twitter account as she went from hundreds to thousands of followers that retweet her pro-Trump tweets. I’ve waved goodbye as my parents rode off on their motorcycle to multiple Trump rallies as far as four hours away, my mother armed with her Trump sign and proud smile.
Let me just say that I have a lot of respect for my mother. She grew up in China in the late sixties during the Cultural Revolution — a movement that aimed to assert chairman Mao as an authority over the Chinese government. My mother learned how to be the ultimate propaganda tool in elementary school when she was chosen to give tours of her school to government officials and learned to write and deliver political speeches in middle school. She grew up underneath a big looming government presence and she never felt in control of her choices due to the influence of politics in her childhood.
When she was in her twenties, she decided to leave China and moved to the United States to pursue her American Dream. She fulfilled her Master’s Degree in computer software engineering at the University of San Francisco. She worked to pay off her master’s degree and became a U.S. citizen.
Fast forward through 30 years of hard work in an upper class American lifestyle in the East Bay, and she now sports a Donald Trump sign in her front lawn. While it still shocks me that she supports a political candidate who I believe is racist, sexist, impulsive, and all together rude, there can be many explanations for her choice in candidate.
Her support stems from fear and ignorance. I believe many of those who support Donald Trump are afraid of what they don’t understand, such as the experiences of those of minority races or the prevalence of gun violence. I think that many Trump supporters find it easier to stand behind him because of his confidence and vague promises for a better America.
She also advocates for a president who she believes “isn’t a politician” and isn’t afraid to say what they think about people. She hopes for a president who is honest, which is one of her largest reasons for not supporting Hillary Clinton.
While I can understand that desire for an honest president, I have challenged my mother to think critically about the way that her chosen candidate has perpetuated racial stereotyping, profiling, and fear into those on the other side of the television screen. She has countered my argument by dismissing Trump’s stereotyping and judgment of women and those from minority races, claiming that that is not what is important about him. I believe that many Trump supporters are in denial about what he promotes by his words and actions.
My mother truly believes that Trump will create jobs for Americans and help restore the economy for those who she believes deserve it. She has instilled her trust in Trump because, as a member of the upper middle class, she would benefit from his taxation policies. She claims that Americans should focus on what Trump will accomplish as president, not what he has said in the past or the comments he makes.
I believe that there are a multitude of reasons that one might be a Trump supporter. For my mother, her beliefs are rooted in her background in China, her rise to the upper middle class and her lack of exposure to marginalized groups of people. She has also spent far too many hours glued to the television, consuming the words of conservative news stations and politicians, furthering her personal racism based in ignorance and her fear of government.
Ultimately, I don’t agree with her, but I still have an understanding of what her support is based on and I have a lot of respect for her as my mom. She truly worked hard for the life she has now and I am grateful everyday for the sacrifices that she made to build her life here in the United States. She exemplified her bravery and risked everything when she left her home country. Since she became a mother, she always put my sister and I first and had our best interests in mind, and for that, I am lucky.
It hasn’t been easy fighting with my mother throughout this election season and watching as politics rule her life. I am not happy to be voting for the opposing candidate of my mother’s choice, but when it comes to family, you can have different political ideals and still respect and love one another.