My brother spends more time with my dad by virtue of having kids. My niece and nephew see their grandparents at least once a week when they’re in town, and even if they’re not in town, they’re face-timing and on the phone from afar. I, only having cats, do not have the responsibility of ensuring that my parents and my spawn develop a healthy, loving relationship.
Interjecting here to remind everybody reading that I do love my parents, and that they were mostly great parents with limited flaws.
But this election is tearing a big Trump-sized hole in my relationship with my father. It’s yuuuge.
My brother believes that my father is very depressed. He says his eating and drinking are out of control and that he’s “lashing out” all over the place. His “lashing out” doesn’t consist of blows or direct insults. It’s more like he makes antagonistic statements to get a rise out of people so that he can discredit them with overreacting. It’s like he’s doubling down on a losing bet.
I’ve spent the last day trying to recall any instance in which my dad has earnestly admitted to being wrong about anything. Or a situation in which he has earnestly said to anyone “I’m sorry.”
There was one. Several years ago, my father heard me when I told him that I frequently felt like he and mom loved me less when I was heavier, and loved me more when I was thinner. He actually heard me, and a few days later admitted to it being true and apologized. Because of that, I now keep fantasizing about an email or text from him sincerely saying the words “I’m sorry I upset you,” but resign myself to knowing they’ll likely never come.
By and large, he doesn’t like being wrong. He sure as hell doesn’t like being challenged when he is in the wrong. Instead, he doubles down…or what my brother calls “lashing out.” It’s similar to Trump’s debate technique, actually. When faced with opposition, just get louder and more outlandish or inappropriate in an effort to distract everyone from the point.
Ever since last night when my brother talked me down from the anger I’d felt toward my dad’s most recent insensitive “joke,” I have been trying to find any other articles that depict a growing sense of depression and spiritual disconnect in the conservative base. I found an article from 2015 that talked about Baby Boomers in general struggling with the acknowledgment that their legacy won’t be looked kindly upon by the generations that follow. It posited that baby boomers received the best of everything and now, as they reach retirement, are so accustomed to receiving that they’re not willing to let anything go. It also says that most of them are conservative and freaking out about all the liberal social changes going on that they can no longer control by clinging to tradition or through progress shaming devices.
I don’t know if I completely agree with everything the article stated. It was heavily biased and devolved toward the end into personal insult toward all baby boomers, so I’d hardly call it academic.
But I do wonder if there’s some basis of truth in some of what i read.
It would certainly explain my father’s behavior.
So, what’s the solution? I mean, I don’t know. My brother has been trying to reel dad back in from the brink of self-destruction the way he is alienating people. But, if this is not an isolated incidence and is, in fact, endemic to many conservatives out there who feel backed up against a wall or helpless in an election where they only see a choice between two evils…
…I think I know a way we can help.
Dear Disenfranchised Republicans,
I get it. You don’t want to live in a world where Hillary Clinton is ever a better choice. Eight years ago you said the Devil would be a better candidate, and now that’s what you’ve got. You don’t want us to use that against you and point out that “you asked for it,” or that “you brought this upon yourselves,” ’cause those are usually the arguments you lob toward us when someone has hurt us.
You don’t want us to tell you that if you didn’t want a narcissistic megalomaniac to run as your candidate, you shouldn’t have worn that greed and xenophobia to your party.
You don’t want to admit that the choice between a Trump presidency and a Clinton presidency makes you feel disenfranchised for the first time in your life, because you don’t have a good choice, and neither bootstraps nor tax-breaks are going to make this problem go away. It was a set of circumstances out of your control that put you in this position. Even if you voted in the primary and lobbied for someone else. The society that’s been created on the far right side of the spectrum has been drowning the voices of the moderate conservatives for years.
I truly am sorry you’re feeling this way. Many of us on the liberal side know what it’s like and we argue in support of rights for the disenfranchised every day. We’ll stand up for your rights as conservatives, too. You absolutely have a right to vote whichever way you please.
The presidential election is not the only item on the ballot. There are a lot of other ways where you can let your conservative values be heard without carrying the shame of either voting for the woman you’ve despised for 30 years or the man you know would make us the laughing stock of the world if the world weren’t absolutely terrified of the prospect of him in charge.
This isn’t meant for the ones who actually believe in the things that man has said. Those of you who hate immigrants and minorities (even though some of you are immigrants and minorities), those of you who hate women (even though some of you are women), and those of you who hate decorum, tradition, and class (even though many of you preach those ideals) are not the ones who are feeling the debilitating and spiritually draining effects of a Trump candidacy.
It’s for those of you who, at your core and sometimes in complete secrecy, know that what he stands for is in complete opposition with what you believe in, and fear that your continued support is going to further alienate you from your children and grandchildren that I implore to think deeply about what you might be doing in the name of “loyalty” to your party.
Your party has not been loyal to you. Your party has blocked progress and damaged relationships with global powers all in the name of sticking it to the current president. It is valuing being a winner over being right or being happy.
And it’s tearing you apart.
So, understand this….those of you who are part of my life and important to me, you will continue to be part of my life and important to me. I will not, in four years, be childish and remind you incessantly that in 2016 you voted for a democrat, or a third-party, or didn’t vote at all. I won’t try to use this anomaly of an election against you, personally.
Find your conscience and vote it. Like I said, there are other items on the ballot where you can still exercise your right to vote republican without shame.
Do it. Even if I don’t agree with you, do it. I’ll still love you.
Just stop lashing out by trying to defend the indefensible. It’s making you look like a monster that you’re not.
One of your daughters