My mother is voting for Trump.

A request for advice.

This is a realization that I have come to not via a single direct statement, but over the course of a number of exchanges. It is something I can’t fully wrap my head around, something that brings stress every time that I think about it. It seems to fly in the face of everything about the seemingly liberal, tolerant household I was brought up in, in which education was valued above all else. How can my own mother be one of “those people?” What is it that’s brought about her change in politics?

“Does she understand that I am Latino?”, Jose asked me, the first time it was mentioned in our house. And of course she does, but for her there’s no inconsistency — she doesn’t make the immediate equation to racism in the way that many of my acquaintances would.

There are millions of Americans supporting Trump,” you might say. Why is this such a surprise?

Before we go any further, let me say a little more about who my mother isn’t:

  1. Political Leanings: My mother is not a Republican. She has voted left for as long as I’ve lived. She took us to Clinton rallies when we were younger. She voted for Kerry, and Gore, and Obama.
  2. Education: My mother is not “uneducated.” She has a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She learned to code before Silicon Valley had start-ups. She was a teacher when I was younger.
  3. Secularism: My mother is in no way religious. She’s an atheist without question or side steps. Some of her closest friends are Muslim, and she has always advocated for separation of church and state.
  4. Race: My mother is not a [self-described] racist. She marched on Washington during the ‘60’s.

What is it then? What are the reasons for supporting Trump?

  1. American jobs. If you haven’t read Thomas Frank’s article in The Guardian, I’d encourage you to now. I grew up in Michigan, and our entire family was supported via Ford and General Motors. While my mom was making the typical low wages of a teacher, my father’s manufacturing salary and health insurance plan kept us all comfortable. My mother’s father was an engineer at Ford. My mother’s brother was an engineer at Chrysler. My father worked on a Cadillac manufacturing line, and I stayed on his health insurance well through the end of college. 
    He was fortunate enough to retire prior to the auto industry collapse, but the effects were still visible around us. As you can read in the email copied below, my mother was painfully aware of the changes as Michigan shifted to where it is today.
  2. Hillary Clinton. Hillary represents the neoliberalism that Frank describes so well, with her support for Israel, hawkish policies and seeming neglect for the American working class. The corporate donations made to her campaign have certainly not gone unseen, even outside of the obvious Sanders supporters. “Hillary is supported by big money interests with which ‘people like me’ cannot compete,” my mom writes. Trump, in comparison, has funded his own campaign and does not have ties to corporate donors. With the media continuing to portray Hillary as the clear winner of the democratic primary, Bernie Sanders is not seen as an alternative.

Still unresolved for me are the questions, What about his ignorance? What about his bigotry? His lack of respect for women? What about racism? I will not attempt to address this in full, but leave you here a few quotes from her:

If Trump keeps jobs in America (as he promises to do), blacks and females will benefit. Why are we sending chickens overseas for processing there and then returning them here to be eaten?
This is ALL TRUE. The other side of the coin is letting people cross our border unchecked. Do you think that’s okay? Then the workers come here and compete just as if this is a 3rd world country. Don’t you agree?
I saw anti-Bush folks shoved out of rallies, too. You really can’t blame Trump for ejecting people who are against him when he paid for the venue and they are disrupting his rally. If you paid for a rally and people came and interrupted your speech, would you just LET THEM? Come on, Elizabeth. Peaceful blacks are NOT ejected. 
It is upsetting to me that you want to squelch someone who is trying to speak. Why should people be allowed to interrupt free speech? What happened to “dialogue?”
Also, Trump says that not all Mexicans are bad — just some. Some are let out of Mexican jails and make a run for the border. They are the ones a good border should stop.

The argument has come to be too much for me. I imagine hours of research to bring to light details regarding his lack of success in business, the failings of his proposed economic policies, his history with women, religious intolerance, and the attitudes he elicits on race. But for every article and idea that she brings forth, I imagine ten articles not surfaced that she’s read. Her position seems cemented in her approach.

To release frustration, I have written this to tell you.

…and I’m asking you what you might say to my mother.

An email from my mother, sent Saturday, March 12th.

Re: Question
What do you think of him?
I am encouraged by someone who (1) is not funded by lobbyists and is “his own man” — not funded nor beholden to lobbyists, (2) says he will be “neutral” (his word,) w/ regard to Israel, (3) wants to control our southern border more (right now you have to agree that anyone can get in via Mexico, [including people with anthrax from the Middle East, but that’s another youtube video]) and (4) by limiting immigrants will help keep American jobs in the hands of American workers. It stuns me that blacks can’t see that the more that immigration is tightened, the more jobs there will be for them. A lot of blacks worked within unions in the U.S. and made good money once when working in car factories. YOU KNOW THIS; YOU ARE A DETROITER. That is no longer true. In Michigan, for example, the cities of St. Joseph and other cities near St. Joseph once made clotheswashers, etc., but a lot of those factories (that also employed blacks) were shut down and the jobs went to Mexico. I personally know people in Battle Creek whose good, union jobs went to Mexico when Kellogg started making CORN FLAKES (for God’s sake!) in Mexico and they told me they will never eat corn flakes again. And look at all the car business that went to Mexico. Our own father used to travel to Mexico, as I’m sure you know, to check on car bumpers. Look at the disasters that exist in Detroit and Flint due to the closures of all the car factories. Your dad’s factory in Grand Rapids was even closed. Because Trump wants to keep American jobs in the U.S. and because he is not kowtowing to Israel, I think that bodes well for a more peaceful world. He has said that he intends to be friends with Putin. WHO ELSE says that? Not Hillary, the current front runner and sure nominee to the Democratic Party — she says she would bomb Russian planes!
Have you seen this?
Just go to youtube and search on “Hillary the Hawk.” You will find a multitude of videos on how warlike she is — and in her own words(!), and it is no surprise since she is supported financially by Saudi Arabia and war contractors, whereas Trump is only supported by himself and therefore cannot be bought. Tell me the name of another candidate for whom this is true! AIPAC and the Israel lobby are beside themselves and are trying to do anything — even to the point of saying they will break up the centuries-old Republican party in order to stop him because he is a threat to them and all of the war lobby (e.g., these candidates: Clinton, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham.) If Bernie could really win, that would be possibly good — except he is Jewish and would probably continue Mideast conflicts, which I see as none of our business. Yes, Bernie is excellent for taking care of people, BUT as it currently stands, he is not in the running AND he would likely continue the massive amounts of money expenditures in the Mideast, which I am against.
My number one priority is PEACE, but this is not true of the majority of candidates. I used to be sympathetic to Jewish people because of the Holocaust, but they have become evil in their destruction of Palestinian homes (Google Israel and bulldozers and Palestinians or something similar — if you can’t find it, let me know. An American woman was protesting this and was even killed by a bulldozer.) It is unconscionable.
Trump is not “politically correct,” but there are more important things going on in our country, which is going down the tubes. I don’t think my kids realize it, as they were not around when Detroit, Flint, etc. were thriving. And here is Trump addressing this very issue: It’s not that I don’t care about politically correct issues; it’s that there is a more terrifying downgrade going on in the country. People have not had a raise in 15 years while prices have gone up. Is “political correctness” more important than that? If so, vote for Hillary and get more of the same (war, poverty, problems in the cities.) Hillary talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. Look at her speeches and records. With Trump, MAYBE there’s a chance — from what he says he would do….