“You are No Longer My Mom”: How Elections Divide American Households
By Tim Reid, Gabriella Borter and Michael Martina
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – When lifelong Democrat Mayra Gomez told her 21-year-old son five months ago that she voted for Donald Trump in Tuesday’s presidential election, he removed her from his life.
“He specifically told me, ‘You are no longer my mother because you are voting for Trump,'” Gomez, 41, a personal care worker in Milwaukee, told Reuters. Their last conversation was so bitter that she’s not sure they can make up even if Trump loses his re-election offer.
“The damage is done. In people’s minds, Trump is a monster. It’s sad. There are people who stop talking to me and I’m not sure that will change,” said Gomez, who is a fan One of Trump’s crackdowns on illegals is immigrants and dealing with the economy.
Gomez is not the only one who believes that the bitter divisions within families and friends over Trump’s turbulent presidency will be difficult or impossible to resolve even after he has left office.
In interviews with 10 voters – five Trump supporters and five supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden – few could see the shattered personal relationships that were completely healed by Trump’s tenure, and most believed they would be destroyed forever.
During his nearly four-year presidency, Trump has aroused strong emotions in both supporters and opponents. Many of his supporters admire his efforts to overhaul immigration, his appointment of conservative judges, his willingness to throw convention to the wind, and his harsh rhetoric, which they refer to as straightforwardness.
Democrats and other critics see the former real estate developer and reality show personality as a threat to American democracy, a serial liar and a racist who mistreated the novel coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 people in the US to date came. Trump rejects this characterization as “false news”.
Now that Trump is lagging Biden in opinion polls, people are starting to wonder if the rifts caused by one of the most polarizing presidencies in US history could be cured if Trump loses the election.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think national cure is as easy as changing the presidency,” said Jaime Saal, a psychotherapist at the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
“It takes time and effort and both parties – no pun intended – have to be ready to let go and move forward,” she said.
Saal said tensions in people’s personal relationships have increased amid the political, health and social dynamics of the United States. Most often, she sees clients who have political rifts with siblings, parents, or in-laws as opposed to spouses.
NEIGHBOR VS NEIGHBOR
Trump’s election in 2016 divided families, ripped off friendships and turned neighbors against neighbors. Many have turned to Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 and Twitter for unrestricted posts beating up both Trump and his many critics, while the president’s tweets, which are in free run, have also created tension.
A September report by the non-partisan Pew Research Center found that nearly 80% of Trump and Biden supporters said they had few or no friends who supported the other candidate.
A study by electoral organization Gallup in January found that Trump’s third year in office set a new record for party polarization. While 89% of Republicans approve of Trump taking office in 2019, only 7% of Democrats thought he was doing a good job.
Gayle McCormick (NYSE :), 77, who split from her husband William, 81, after voting for Trump in 2016, said, “I think it will be a long time before Trump’s legacy is recovered.”
The two still spend time together, even though she now lives in Vancouver and he in Alaska. Two of her grandchildren no longer speak to her because she supported the Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago. She has also become estranged from other relatives and friends who support Trump.
She’s not sure if these rifts with friends and family will ever get better because everyone believes the other has a completely alien value system.
Democratic voter Rosanna Guadagno, 49, said her brother disowned her after refusing to support Trump four years ago. Her mother suffered a stroke last year, but her brother, who lived in the same California town as her mother, didn’t let her know when her mother died six months later. The news was communicated to her in an email three days later from her sister-in-law.
“I was shut out from anything related to her death and it was devastating,” said Guadagno, a social psychologist who works at Stanford University in California.
Whoever wins the election, Guadagno is pessimistic that she can make up with her brother even though she says she still loves him.
UNSAFE POST TRUMP WORLD
Sarah Guth, 39, a Spanish interpreter from Denver, Colorado, said she cut several Trump-supportive friends out of her life. She couldn’t come to terms with her support for issues like separating immigrant children from parents on the southern border or for Trump himself after he was taped bragging about groping women.
After the 2016 election, she stopped speaking to her Trump-voting father for a few months. The two speak now, but avoid politics.
Guth says some of her friends cannot accept their support for a candidate – Joe Biden – who stands up for election on the issue of abortion.
“We had such fundamental differences of opinion on such fundamental things. It showed both sides that we really had nothing in common. I don’t think this will change in the post-Trump era.”
Ardent Trump supporter Dave Wallace, 65, a retired oil industry sales director in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is more optimistic about family feuds in a post-Trump world.
Wallace says his support for Trump has created tension with his son and daughter-in-law.
“The hatred of Trump among Democrats is just incredible to me,” said Wallace. “I think it’s just Trump how he makes people feel. I think fear will decrease if we go back to being a normal politician who doesn’t upset people.”
Jay J. Van Bavel, professor of psychology and neuroscience at New York University, said this “political sectarianism” was not just tribal but also morality.
“Because Trump was one of the most polarizing figures in American history when it comes to core values and issues, people are unwilling to compromise and that can’t be made to go away,” said Van Bavel.
Jacquelyn Hammond, 47, a bartender in Asheville, North Carolina, no longer speaks to her Trump-supportive mother, Carol, and also discourages her son from speaking to her.
She said she would like to heal the relationship but believes it will be difficult to do even if Trump loses the election.
“Trump is like the catalyst of an earthquake that has just divided two continents of thought. Once the earth divides like this, there is no going back. This is a significant time in our history when people had to jump from side to side . And whichever side you choose, this will be the path for the rest of your life, “she said.
Hammond said the first time she discovered her relationship with her mother was in trouble shortly after the 2016 election was when she defended Clinton while driving with her mother.
“She stopped the car and told me not to disregard her policy. And if I don’t want to respect her policy, I can get out of the car.”
65-year-old Bonnie Coughlin has mostly voted Republicans her entire life, except in 2016 when she supported a third-party candidate. This time she’s all in Biden and even holds a small rally for him on the edge of a freeway near Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania.
Raised in a Republican, religiously conservative family in Missouri, she says her relationships with her sister, father, and some cousins - all of whom are ardent Trump supporters – have turned sour.
Coughlin says she still loves her, but “I see her differently. It is because you willingly hugged someone who is so heartless and under no circumstances shows empathy towards anyone.”
She added, “And if Biden wins, I don’t think they’ll go quietly into the night and accept it.”