My 96-year old aunt has been a dyed-in-the wool Republican for as long as she knew there was a choice. She worked for the party when she was young, and after retiring, she volunteered for them again.
My aunt’s incredible knowledge and recall of American history can make it interesting to talk politics with her, even though we’re polar on most things. We often reach an impasse and change the subject, but nobody was ever mean or disrespectful of the other’s opinions.
While my aunt was not real keen on the 2016 Republican candidate for president, she is embracing him now. No surprise there. But something new has happened. Recently, our weekly conversations had her prefacing with, “Excuse me if I’m being *politically incorrect* but…” and I could feel the sarcasm that was not there before. The story was usually disagreeing with whatever us “liberal snowflakes” had our panties in a bunch about. Recently I finally told her that she’s not being politically incorrect, she’s being mean and disrespectful of things people feel very strongly about (civil rights, the ME TOO movement, etc.). She said, “I’m sorrrrrreeeee if I oh-FENDed you,” and promptly sent me a letter defining the words political and correct in her defense.
My aunt is a kind woman. She has always looked out for her family and has been there for all of us in her world. It finally dawned on me today that this woman, who has always stuck to her beloved party, is starting to parrot the infectious vitriol that Trump introduced to the limelight and has made acceptable. And she doesn’t realize it.
Trump and his supporters at FOX are encouraging the very worst in people and showcasing it as some kind of justified retaliatory movement against the “liberal crybabies.” I hate that my aunt is letting that rub off on her just because she’s a follower of the party. It makes it difficult to talk to her. and I know families all over the country are in a similar boat. It’s depressing, isn’t it?
So, here’s what I sent to my aunt, as a definition of a liberal. It’s a lovely piece I saw on social media, without an attribution:
I am not a liberal snowflake.
My feelings aren’t fragile; my heart isn’t bleeding.
I am a badass believer in human rights.
My toughness is in tenderness.
My strength is in the service of others.
There is nothing more fierce than formidable, unconditional love.
There is not a thing more courageous than compassion.
But if my belief in equity, empathy, goodness, and love indeed makes me or people like me snowflakes, then you should know: Winter is coming.