By Barbara Falconer Newhall
Last Tuesday night, as poll results poured in and it became clearer and clearer who was going to be the next president of the United States, I made a decision. I decided to stop bad-mouthing Donald Trump. I would give him a chance. I’d keep an open mind.
I decided to do the same for his supporters. Millions of Americans have let the world know, loud and clear, that they think both Democrats and Republicans have let them down. This is a good thing, actually. The message is out.
Coastal, Urban College Graduate
And now it’s up to me as a coastal, urban, white, college graduate to listen. I need to
listen to the friends, neighbors and relatives who somehow managed to convince themselves that their candidate could be a fit president, that he was capable of paying attention to their legitimate needs, that he actually had the chops to get something done . . . . Oops. I said I was going to stop bad-mouthing Donald Trump, didn’t I?
On the front page of yesterday’s New York Times was a story about how some folks are canceling Thanksgiving plans with family because their relatives had voted for Trump — or because they hadn’t voted for Trump. On CNN just before the election, an undecided voter told an interviewer that one of her relatives would refuse to talk to her if she didn’t vote for Trump. And closer to home, an otherwise beautifully open-minded friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that he would refuse to speak to anyone who supported Trump.
On election day, on my way home from the dentist, I spotted a wreck of a car sitting outside a body shop in San Francisco. I shot a quick photo, thinking some far off day I might need a picture to go with an essay about a death or disaster. Back home I tagged the photo “death,” “bad stuff,” “accidents” and “calamity.” The calamity — for me and millions of other Hillary Clinton supporters — came only hours later.
I’ve seen worse disasters. I’m old enough to remember the turmoil of the 1960s. It was a time far, far more divisive than the moment we are in right now. I was a 20-something living in New York. My parents lived in a Cleveland suburb. I was against the war in Vietnam, and I was mad at the establishment.
My father thought the establishment was just fine. I said something sharply political over dinner during one of my daughterly visits to Cleveland. My father said something equally sharp right back at me. My blood boiled. His blood boiled.
Father-Daughter Civility in the Sixties
We dropped the subject then and there. In a heartbeat, my father and I were done talking politics. My father was way, way more important to me than my opinions. And
he knew it. And I was way, way more important to my father than his opinions. And I knew it. That’s all either of us cared about.
So, yeah. Today I’m keeping an open mind. I’m going to stop with the Donald Trump put-downs. Really. I am.
Except, is it really a put-down to say something about somebody if it’s actually true? . . . There I go again. I gotta stop with this. I am going to keep my mind open, dagnabbit. Honest, I am. I’m going to go back to writing about God and grandbabies and wedding dresses and the golden leaves falling from our magnolia tree this month. I’m going to stop bad-mouthing Donald Trump.
Hold me to it.
OK. If you really, really need to hear the vitriol I’ve slung at Donald Trump in recent months, you can find it at “Donald Trump Played Me. Here’s How.” But, honest to goodness, I do think that we need to abandon that kind of contentious rhetoric, or we’ll never, ever get through the next four years. Believe me.
Note: Jon broke his ankle last night at an otherwise very nice family reunion dinner. I spent the day at the ER with him, and the evening burning our dinner. (Jon’s the cook at our house.) So this post got dashed off kinda quick. Pls look kindly upon typos and lapses of logic.