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While recently going through some of my mother’s things after she passed away, I came across an envelope with a campaign fundraiser letter littered with “I’m With Her” stickers. I sighed and promptly added it to the trash pile, as mom didn’t live to see the outcome of this election. I believe if she had, she’d have never gotten over it. On the bookshelf were copies of every Barack Obama book and in a cabinet sat a Michelle Obama inauguration doll, still pristine in the box. Those items remain. I knew my mom was a hard-core “democrat,” but this didn’t occur over a lifetime. It was a fairly abrupt happening.
You see, she was home bound for the last part of her life due to illnesses that seemed to just pile on top of one another. CNN and MSNBC kept her company 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that was much of her input, mixed in with the occasional episode of “Blue Bloods” and “American Pickers.” Quite the riddle. I adored my mom, and her heart was big; basically orphaned as a child, being married at 16 without graduating high school then becoming a single mom with 3 young kids, she was always looking out for the underdog. Not once during my childhood was the news watched regularly and discussions of current events were completely absent. She was simply not interested in any of it. She had never voted for anything in her life until 2008 when she proudly voted for Obama because he was black. That’s right, she wanted to vote for the first black man running for president. And she was open about that fact. So open, that when I, her conservative daughter who would sometimes even vote across party lines, asked her what policies he was running on that she was voting for, she icily replied, “I did not raise you to be racist. If you aren’t voting for him, that’s what you are.” My own mom, who knew me best, called me a racist over politics.
Ten years later I’m still thinking about this exchange, even a year after she is gone. I see that word “racist” all over social media now and I cringe. It’s tossed around when one can’t argue logically or think of another useful thing to say. I was prompted to write here after being added by a random kind soul to a Racist list on Twitter the other night for using rainbow and smiley (and taco) emojis as a comment on a Chelsea Manning post. Everything and everyone conservative is racist and that list addition got me to thinking about my beloved mom. Those conversations with her did not stop there, and if you had the audacity to turn on Fox News when visiting her house, she would let you know that was not allowed because they were all against Obama and “that” Bill O’Reilly was racist.
There came a time you could not question anything the administration would do in her presence because CNN had confirmed her own biases to her and she didn’t need another outlook or opinion. If I talked about any concern with the direction of education, including Michelle’s horrible school lunch program, I was a racist. If I mentioned how health insurance costs were killing our budget and that, after 20 years of being a stay-at-home-mom (with just a few years left to homeschool our youngest) I had to go back to work to help pay those costs, I was racist. Forget about mentioning the fact he basically repudiated American exceptionalism and that to believe America was the greatest country in the world was…racist.
Not only did she vote for him once, but twice, and proudly put her voting sticker right on her sewing machine where she could see it. There eventually came a time when we couldn’t talk about current events, and just went about with the small talk because any negative discussion would make her angry. It’s much like talking to a Trump voter who continues to see him as the savior we all need instead of being able to objectively consider things he does or says or tweets as they come. Everything is golden.
Of course, I do believe he will never be able to say or do the right thing for people who absolutely despise him, including media members who are supposed to be non-partisan. I read so much about those dang uneducated folks in those dang red states who voted for Trump, but there were many of the same who voted for Obama. People who had never voted before and wanted to be part of history in the making. People who had no clue what he stood for and how inexperienced he might be. He was a great orator and that’s all you needed to know. He could make the theft of your house sound like a great idea.
For 8 years we conservatives stood by and were called racist, among other things, if we didn’t toe the Barack Obama line. Sometimes by our own family members. It has never crossed my mind even since then about disliking a person based on their voting habits, but that attitude has come out full force on the left since this past election. Now we’re all called racist because we have a president accused of siding with white supremacy who ran under our party and won against a female. And that’s why my mom would have voted for the democrat again had she been able. Not because Hillary was qualified, but because she was a woman. She was With Her.
Mom turned 71 and just a few days later we learned she had about 6 weeks to live, which made our relationship take a complete turn that I wish had happened sooner. The Clinton campaign letters remained unopened and there wasn’t a word wasted on election talk. We weren’t sitting around pondering who would be president, comparing running mates, or what the outcome would look like. Cable news wasn’t rolling for hours a day anymore and instead we were sipping coffee, looking at pictures and talking about her childhood and laughing about good times we had shared. She wondered aloud what she would have done if she could have made it to the upcoming retirement years of her husband, and openly forgave her first husband of things she had held against him for decades. She patted my hand and told everyone that everything was going to be okay, which is what she always said in the face of tragedy or sadness.
In the end, mom showed us what was important, and it definitely was not our political affiliation. She cared about her family and her eternity and making sure we would see that her loving husband, who had spent years taking care of her, would carry on without her. We are fed so much junk that it seems we can’t see the important things through it all until it’s too late. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a logical debate of politics, current events, and history, but to have those things we have zero control over outweigh what’s happening right in front of our faces, sometimes even to the detriment of our relationships, is foolish.
You will most likely never sway anyone to your way of thinking via social media or arguments over the phone, or even calling someone else a racist because they disagree with you. Work on your own little corner of the world and look at the bigger picture in your own sphere of influence, because very little of what’s going on in Washington, DC, is of no concern when all is said and done. Take it from me and mom, no matter where your political loyalties lie, everything is going to be okay.Published in