We went out for Chinese food on Halloween, and almost inevitably the topic of discussion turned to politics. You didn’t even know if you were going to vote, but you told me your family was republican.
I pointed out to you that republican values, like the values of every party, change from state to national levels, and that Texas republicans aren’t necessarily the same as American republicans. You still weren’t sure, so I made an impassioned plea.
I told you about all the little things growing up that I’m embarrassed to admit. How I grew up lower-middle class at best, in a house trying to care for six people when only two were making money. How my parents took my savings to pay bills — and I was happy to let them, if it meant we had heat in the cold New England winter. How even now, with my parents better off financially, I feel immensely guilty whenever they pay for something I can’t afford. How much I can’t afford.
You constantly say how poor you are, but not being able to buy alcohol and weed when everything else is on your parent’s card doesn’t make you poor. I can’t pay my OB-GYN bill right now — and that’s after my healthcare paid for most of it.
But I told you all those things, and I thought you listened. We’re very different, you and I. You grew up rich, always wearing designer clothes and getting whatever you wanted. Your prom dress cost thousands of dollars. Mine was $100 at a bargain store, and I thought that was too pricey. You’re going to college debt-free, and your younger brother will do the same if his racing career doesn’t take off. I work two jobs, on top of full time school, just to pay all my bills. I’m saving pennies, so one day I can slowly scrape my way out of debt. You don’t have any of my experiences, but sitting over Chinese food, I thought you understood. I thought you heard me.
You voted for Trump. I found that out in a group text with a black girl, a Mexican guy, a Hispanic girl, you and I. It didn’t go over well.
You said you had to think of your family. Your father’s business had to do well to support your brother’s racing career and your current lifestyle, and republicans support small business. You didn’t think it would come to this. You aren’t proud of your decision.
So why did you do it? We tried explaining to you the danger Trump puts all of us in. Minorities could be shot just for looking different (not white.) Women could be assaulted in the streets because if the president can do it, why can’t every man? Trump brought all these racists and homophobes and white supremacists and woman haters out of the woodwork and gave them a public space. Our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, are in peril.
You just kept saying you respected that, as if it were our opinion and not a proven fact. As if we haven’t seen this hatred and violence in action already.
You have friends of every color and orientation. You take time off work to go to every Gay Pride Parade in a 100-mile radius — Austin, Houston, San Antonio. I guess you were just there for the booze and the partying.
Democracy is, at its core, about picking a leader who will most greatly benefit the nation and the people in it. You made a selfish decision. You thought of your family, and what was good for them. That’s fair. But you didn’t go bigger. You didn’t think of the millions of minorities who will be oppressed, abused, possibly killed, for the next four years under Trump.
So I hope your father’s business does well.
I hope my sister’s friends don’t get sent to conversion camp, like she told me she was afraid would happen.
I hope your brother’s racing career succeeds.
I hope my Muslim, Egyptian friend doesn’t get deported or attacked, despite being an American citizen for years now.
I hope all your friends stay safe, alive and well, for the next four years.
I hope mine do too.
And I hope you know that when you count your friends, you can no longer count me among them.