Somewhere around 1:30 a.m. the morning after the election — an insurgency of white, rural Americans lacking college degrees having taken its revenge upon itself and the rest of us by granting power to a self-styled strongman with a long record of race-baiting, tax-dodging, creditor-stiffing, self-dealing, model-chasing, lie-disseminating and the hosting of rallies where journalists were confined to pens and subjected to taunts and promises of death printed on T-shirts (please, commenters, do tell us again about the Hillary Clinton e-mails) — I staged the only act of protest left in my immediate control.It's a shame -- I understand the bile gravy he serves with his potatoes is quite tasty. We'll come back to that. There's more:
I sent an e-mail to an in-law, telling him that his genial hockey buddy and Trump supporter friend Johnny was no longer welcome on Thanksgiving.
I’m not a hater. Johnny’s a good guy. He means well and has done nice things for me. I’ve known him 20 years. But I can’t feed him any more of my potatoes.
I made it to 3:30 the next afternoon before embarking on my next round of social housecleaning. By text, I put the question to a different relative, a note that read, let’s see, oh yes, here it is: “Please tell me you guys didn’t vote for that monster.”And then you read on, and you start to wonder if it's a put-on:
Before the election, I had developed a vague inkling that this relative and her significant other — generous, warm, and good parents the both of them — might possibly have been considering a vote for the strongman. When six hours passed and she hadn’t replied, my forebodings only grew stronger — we trade texts about our kids in a heartbeat. At some point I sent over a curt follow-up: “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’ ”
“Don’t get hostile,” she shot back. “I didn’t vote.”
On the third and final night of this reckoning by text, it was time to engage with a young cousin by marriage:It's all gravy, fella. Then we get to the point:
“Did you vote for Trump?”
I had been primed for confrontation with the young man, whose head is harder for me to impale on a spike because I have known him since he was a child. But he’s 30 now. And more to the point, when he arrived in my home last year for Thanksgiving and began pelting me with Sean Hannity talking points on the subject of police shootings of unarmed motorists, a thought suddenly occurred to me: Why was I making this guy such delicious gravy?
Trump did us all a favor by showing exactly what would happen if an opportunist and political parasite with a compliant host party normalized the American subtext of racism, then brought it to a vote. Some of us see that as a vote to be subjected to a million small acts of social correction, not engagement.The choice might be easier than he imagines.
So you don’t have to make the Trump supporters dinner, or remain their friends on Facebook, or keep sending them holiday cards. In fact, it’s probably better that you don’t, not if you don’t want to normalize the election of a man who seems poised to penalize his critics, run a hotel business with the national Treasury, bunker down under the counsel of blood relatives as all tyrants do, and foment anger within his base. Some of us have pushed away family over far less. And once you’ve taken a stand, they might have to think about what matters more to them — their fondness for the strongman, or you.