While I feel like I have obtained sufficient knowledge about America's political system throughout the years, I prefer to stay out of any sort of political debate or online posting. However, I have been feeling guilty for not once writing about this (frightening, to say the least) presidential race, especially since I am a senior journalism student at one of America's most liberal universities. It's not that I wouldn't like to write about my own opinions on our country's current state of affairs-- I would have liked to a few months ago-- but these past few months have brought forth a complete and utter distaste for discussing what is arguably the most shocking presidential race America has ever experienced. And it hasn't stemmed from the Facebook rants or arrogant debates I am subjected to in my journalism classes. It has come from my father.
Now, before I explain my current situation, I don't mean to speak poorly of my parents, especially of my dad. He is a hard-working small business owner and is the life of any party he has been a part of (I'm not kidding; my male friends refer to him as 'the legend.') The dude can hang. He and I have always been similar in that we both are carefree, fun-loving people, but we both are also stubborn as hell when it comes to our beliefs. While I tend to not open any sort of can of worms around him regarding social issues and the like, my father has no problem trying to impose his opinions on anyone around him. And while my political stance has been leaning further left each year, he has been a dead-set Republican for as long as I can remember. This presidential race has done nothing but fire up his right-winged views. My dad is a hardcore Donald Trump supporter.
Three days ago I decided to take a weekend off from poisoning my liver at UMass and kick it at home. I hadn't spent a full weekend with my parents since January, and while I knew that politics would be a topic of conversation at some point during my stay, I felt as though I was prepared for any debate my dad threw at me.
The first thing I heard when I walked into my house was a "What's up, Western Mass Afton," from my dad, who was laying on the couch, watching FOX News' coverage of the race (what else?). He immediately started chirping me about my political beliefs and how I'm an 'idiot' for not voting for Trump. I tried to whip up some facts about Trump's plans and how Hillary, although not a perfect Democratic candidate by any means, would be a far better president (which I attempted to back up with substantial evidence that even he can't deny).
"Are you kidding me?" he said. "You're just brainwashed by the Western Mass hippies out there. You're gonna be growin' your armpit hair out soon, I can see it now." I told him I didn't want to have this conversation anymore and left the room.
The following morning my dad and I were flipping through channels as we passed a headline about the FBI's reopening of Hillary's email 'scandal.' "That woman is going down. I can't believe you want to vote for a criminal like that woman." This time, I began to clap back. "You are wicked misinformed about this whole thing. You sit here and watch 24-hour news reels of CNN and FOX over, and over and over again. You haven't read one article about this election from an actual news source." I said. I began to talk about the dozen or so politicians who have been found guilty of using their private email servers for business-related activity as well, but he didn't want to hear it. "You're a Western Mass... your professors have been teaching you a load of shit up there..." he spat out over my voice. I went to my room.
Later on that day, my dad took me out for drinks and steamers-- a classic Cape Cod couple. We joked and laughed about family events' past, and there was not one mention of Trump the entire afternoon. As we drove back, I said to him, "Listen, it really sucks when you try to blame me not liking Donald Trump on my education. I try hard in school, and UMass is one of the country's top 30 public universities. And it wasn't like I could go anywhere else anyway. That was the best possible option for our situation." He nodded in agreement; my dad knows UMass is a good school. I just knew he wasn't convinced that it wasn't 'brainwashing' my political views.
I woke up Sunday morning to the smell of bacon, eggs, homefries and toast wafting from my kitchen. My mom chef-ed up a breakfast spread big time. As we began to take our seats at the table, my dad turned on the news. It was only a matter of seconds before he went off about Hillary the Criminal and Trump's superiority. I couldn't take it anymore. I snapped. "You have proven this weekend how ignorant you are about everything. I can't freaking believe that a. you are convinced that global warming is literally not a thing (Oh yeah, that was another topic of conversation from this past weekend.) and b. you actually think that Hillary Clinton is satan." My mom screamed at the both of us to just sit down and enjoy breakfast. I could see the look of despair on her face as I took my seat. As I was just about to fill my plate, my dad's billowing voice shook the walls. "Don't call me dumb. You aren't the smartest around, you're a Western Mass..."
I threw my bacon on the floor, which is the worst possible thing that one could do to glorious bacon. I couldn't believe that after I told him that it felt pretty crappy to have to hear him make fun of me for going to school in Western Mass, even though I bust my ass doing schoolwork on a weekly basis, he still wanted to berate me for my not-so-crazy opinions. I grabbed my keys and ran towards my car as my mom was begging for me to stay. I wanted to badly to go back and apologize to my mom and my bacon, but I couldn't sit across from the one person who is supposed to support me no matter what, even if his ideas may be different from mine.
It does hurt receiving texts like "What don't you understand about being a criminal," even though some texts he sends me, like "I wonder if Hillary likes her new asshole," are pretty funny, albeit crude. It sucks knowing that you can't call your father without him shoving Trump propaganda down your throat, nor ever being able to have a calm, friendly, healthy political debate during a crucial time in American politics. This is why I shy away from writing about my stance on this election; why try when the people at home won't support your actions? Like probably every other person living in America at this time, I cannot wait for this election to be over. I'd like to say that I am wishing for Hillary to win just so I can tell my dad 'I told you so,' but I wish even more that he is able to take a step back and have more of an open mind when it comes to the opinions of others. Wishful thinking, I know, but hopefully in the coming years I will be able to have a conversation about issues with the person that I still love, despite our stark political differences.