Family of Trump supporters motivated by desperation, not racism



I realize that by writing this, I’m committing what some might consider the ultimate betrayal to my family. All I can say to this fact is I am sorry and I will try to be as fair as possible in depicting their views. Please try to remember that these people are generally good. They just have a different perspective.

The first member of my family to actively support Trump would be my grandmother, Nana. Now Nana is what many people think of a Trump supporter: A bigot rapidly approaching her 70’s. The only difference is that she is a woman. Long before Trump began his campaign, Nana voiced her opposition to undocumented immigrants. She was subtle in her discrimination, though, being extra careful to hide her opinions as facts. When Trump began running for president, she made remarks saying it would be funny if Trump was elected. As the election drew closer and closer, however, she changed her catchphrase to suggest both sides were a joke. On election night, she texted me to ask who was winning. I responded Trump. She replied: “Goes to show you, [Clinton] should’ve saved those 13 men that she left there to die. People don’t forget about our men that fight for our freedom,” followed by a smiley emoji. Trump was in the lead, and she was gloating. It was only my desire not to antagonize her that prevented me from replying with a ‘wtf!’ I hoped that was the end of it. Two days later, she was driving me to school. Without provocation, she mentioned the riots in Oakland. I tried to brush it off at first, but then she said, “They’re always looking for any excuse to steal.” At that point I told her I didn’t want to talk about it, but on and on she went on her slanted view of politics. Finally I asked, no, pleaded her to stop talking about the subject before one of us said something we didn’t mean. She finished the conversation by saying, “Trump is going to make America the country it used to be.” Translation: Let’s make America great again. I sat in dismay and stunned silence after this statement. I do not believe she realizes the full implications of what she just said or that things were not always groovy in the 1960’s she grew up in. She was beyond hope. In that moment, I took solace in the fact that her kind would soon die out in the coming decades.

I don’t recall my grandfather Papa actively voicing his approval or disapproval of Trump’s campaign. He certainly fits the bill, though. His family was from Arkansas and he seems to have been raised to be a good old boy. In essence, he is what most conservatives strive to be: a self-made man who worked with his hands to provide for his family. He is not bigoted save for the rare folksy racisms common amongst the older generations, ones which resurfaced in the aftermath of the Oakland riots.

I cannot stress enough how good of a man my Papa is. Though he may harbor what we consider a racist mindset, he keeps his opinions largely to himself and does not impose his views unto others. Rather, he devotes most of his time to helping his family even in his advanced age. Last weekend, in fact, he went over to my mother’s house and picked all the weeds in the front yard. No one asked him to, he just did it. This is just one of the many good deed he has done for us. Bottom line: Just because someone supports or voted for Trump doesn’t make them necessarily evil. They just voted for him because he emulates the ideals and ways of thinking they were brought up with. I do not expect my Papa to change his point of view no less than I would a liberal college student to change his or hers. Trust me, Papa is a better person than I’ll ever be and I voted for Hillary.

The last family member that I know of to have any sympathies for Trump would be my own father. My dad is not a particularly politically active man nor is he a racist. If anything, he leans slightly to the right. He is also a history buff and speaks highly of Ronald Reagan. Before Trump became the Republican nominee and Bernie Sanders was still in the running, Dad and I had a casual conversation about the political landscape. Dad mentioned Trump frequently. He wasn’t praising Trump, but he wasn’t criticizing him either.

On election night, I mentioned my… surprise that Trump was in the lead. Dad said he wasn’t surprised. He then said something that stuck with me. He said that Americans were sick of politicians. He also said that he was extremely skeptical of Trump’s bigoted behavior.

I then realized why many people might have voted for Trump. They wanted an outsider who promised rapid change, not another product of the political machine. Hillary was the epitome of the politician plagued by scandals who say everything yet reveal nothing. In this election, we were forced to choose the lesser of two evils.

I chose Hillary. My dad, along with many voters, chose Trump. Apparently, they were so sick of politics and bureaucracy that they were willing to disregard Trump’s more insensitive qualities. They didn’t vote for him because they were racists. They voted for him because they were desperate for change.