Between the pandemic and the election, it’s now harder than ever to talk politics with my dad without putting our relationship at risk

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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

I can’t talk to my dad about politics. This is ironic, given that I graduated with honors with a degree in political science. Politics is, proverbially, my “whole thing.”

This standoff is certainly not for lack of trying to connect with my dad. The past three and a half years have been filled with dinner-table debates and verbal sparring over the morning paper; my dad has a tendency to read inflammatory headlines aloud, and I have a tendency to rise to the bait. But most recently, the combination of quarantine and the election cycle has rendered that type of discussion impossible. …


Put politics aside for a moment and listen to your children

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(Image/CNN)

So far, I have written two essays about the effects of Trumpian politics on my relationship with my dad — first in “Confessions of a Trump Supporter’s Daughter” and later in “I Watched the Debate with My Trump Supporter Dad.” In those pieces, I did my level best to showcase the behavior of the typical Trump supporter and the effect of right-wing rhetoric on our interactions with each other, hopefully in a way that offered analysis and expertise. (I’ll leave it to my readers to conclude whether I did so successfully.)

This time, I’m going to put that to the side, and make a plea to the parents of America straight from the heart of one of your daughters. I do so in the hopes that whoever reads this can appreciate how terrifyingly vulnerable I’m willing to make myself in order to get this message across. …


It’s time for automatic voter registration in the United States

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A poll worker sanitizes a voting booth during early voting, 2020 (Image/Scientific American)

Last Tuesday, a single cable got cut and Virginia’s entire online voting registration system went down — on the last day of registration to vote in the 2020 election. Last Monday, Florida’s online voter registration portal also crashed, also on the last day of filing.

Thankfully, the deadlines for registration were subsequently extended in both cases. Yet, it begs the question: is a system that puts millions of votes at risk with a single glitch truly functional? Can democracy truly flourish when voter suppression is as easy as a pair of cable cutters?

It isn’t like this in other democratic countries. A few weeks ago, a Swedish pen pal of mine wrote to me in bewilderment with questions about America’s voter registration system. He couldn’t understand how the requirements to be an eligible voter differed from state to state, or why the onus was on voters to register themselves. Our voter registration system seemed utterly bizarre to him, because, as he explained, Swedish citizens are automatically added to a national voter registry the moment they turn 18. …


Here’s what I learned

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(Olivier Douliery / Pool via Reuters/NBC News)

In my article “Confessions of a Trump Supporter’s Daughter,” I examined the way differing political stances affect my relationship with my dad. The unfortunate conclusion of the essay was that, if I wanted to preserve our relationship, I would need to completely avoid the topic of politics with him.

On Tuesday, September 29, I broke my own rule and stayed in the same room as my dad for the entirety of the 2020 presidential debate. Here’s what I learned.

I get no kick out of being unhappy with the state of my nation.

Even before the debate had started, it was clear that our attitudes about it were radically different. I had already made and consumed one margarita in the lead-up to the event, and was starting my second by the time the debate got going, facing the hours ahead with a sense of grim determination. Meanwhile, Dad popped an actual bag of popcorn. …


How easily we seem to have forgotten what happened in 2016.

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Via Pewresearch.org

On November 8th, 2016, I watched Florida break for Trump from a tiny television screen someone had set up in the lounge of my dorm. I thought back to how Florida had been a deciding factor in the 2012 election, and I knew immediately that the race was over.

Many surely remember the atmosphere in the following hours: shock, bewilderment, horror and elation in turn depending on your preferred side of the aisle. My dorm’s RA sent an email with links to my school’s psychiatric services the next morning. Two of my classmates — one liberal, one conservative — nearly got into a brawl during class. Others cried. Others marched down my campus’ main street. …


And it’s high time we listened

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(Image/Variety)

Monday night, Tucker Carlson covered the recent breaking news that President Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes during the first two years of his presidency and no income taxes at all for 10 of the 15 years on record.

“Trump’s accountants took advantage of the many provisions in our tax code to make that possible,” Carlson said during the segment. “What the president did was legal — in fact it’s all but universal among the affluent who earn their money from investments rather than from salaries.”

“Should the president have used these conventional tax loopholes to his own benefit?” Carlson asked, “We’ll leave that to the ‘professional hyperventilators’” — referring to liberal news networks — “on the other channels….But far more interesting is this question: Why does our tax code remain so obviously, so grotesquely unfair?” …


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Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court of London during libel trial against NGN. Via USAToday.

Johnny Depp currently awaits the imminent ruling on his U.K. lawsuit against News Group Newspapers, whom he is suing over The Sun’s 2018 headline calling him a ‘wife-beater’. The trial, which concluded in July, brought every imaginable detail of his volatile relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard into the spotlight. If you’re new to the case (or my perspective on it), read my previous piece for context:

A lot has happened since I published that piece. The English trial kicked up a media frenzy, turning attention towards social media, where support for the Pirates of the Caribbean star is strongest. Reporters like the New York Times’ Rachel Abrams and BBC’s Marianna Spring have dropped into the inboxes of pro-Depp social media accounts, the latter sending a boiler-plate message to seemingly every account she could find and the former going so far as to contact one user’s family members and place of work.


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via Shutterstock

Two weeks ago, The Hollywood Reporter writer and senior editor Eriq Gardner agreed to take questions from Johnny Depp’s supporters with yours truly acting as moderator. (He actually responded to them quite promptly — yours truly is just easily distracted). Gardner has clashed with both Johnny Depp’s online supporters and his lawyer Adam Waldman himself, which I analyze in more detail in a previous piece on the subject.

Below are a dozen responses to the best questions I found in my inbox, raw and unfiltered. …


The media coverage of Johnny Depp’s libel suit against ex-wife Amber Heard has long been riddled with bias. Recently, however, that bias has taken a turn towards outright conspiracy theory.

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Steve Granitz/WireImage, via UsMagazine.

If you support Johnny Depp in any capacity, you may be familiar with the Mainstream Media’s favorite descriptors — “Johnny Depp fans,” “Depp Army,” and in some less formal cases, “Depp stans.” These classifications have been appearing in the headlines of articles regarding Depp’s ongoing libel suit against Heard since he first filed. And, in many cases, they are used to discredit the people speaking out about the case.

(For background on the development of the Depp/Heard case and related media coverage, read my previous piece.)

But in recent weeks, something more sinister has emerged: insinuations that either Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman or Depp himself were working with, paying, or otherwise coordinating major actors in the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp campaign. Primarily, these insinuations have come from New York Times reporter Rachel Abrams and The Hollywood Reporter senior editor Eriq Gardner. …


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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard at Venice Film Festival, 2015. Getty images.

We as a society have committed to a new and beautiful effort to “Believe Women.” This campaign is geared at reversing the generations-long trend of questioning and intimidating women into silence whenever they come forward against the rich and powerful. What happens, then, if one of these women lies?

In March of 2019, I was sitting at my little intern desk in an American government post in France. I absolutely should not have been on Twitter, but in true college student fashion I had the computer screen split between my timeline and a cable I was preparing to send to Washington. …

About

Deborah Handover

Recovering student. Sometimes-writer. Find me on Twitter: @tasteofsanity.

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