I asked my grandmother if her love of Trump was at all related to her love of the card game trump. She replied, in her gravely, tobacco-singed voice, “No! He’s the only one who tell the truth!” She then told me everything she learned from Fox News.
I am back home from my junior year at a branch campus of the University of Pittsburgh, the most expensive public college in the US. I cannot tell at this time if it has been a wise investment, but it is not a large investment. The nice thing about being poor is the financial aid. Home is a small town an hour and forty-five minutes from Pittsburgh. Most of the buildings are abandoned and stand like tombstones to dreams when in actuality they are the woebegone remnants of a once well-off coal town. It was founded in 1894. I have always found it amusing that I was born the year of its centennial. It is a largely elderly community, where lots of people are cousins. It’s a beautiful place, once you look past the dilapidated buildings. If I am to ever leave this place, I will miss the hills the most. Those are the most beautiful sights. The worst sights are the Confederate flags. Why the hell is someone showing southern pride when they have lived in this town all your life? In my honest opinion, having a twangy accent does not give you the right to identify yourself as Southern.
On Main Street, there is an old barbershop. Its windows are covered with old newspapers so yellow you have to think someone made them so yellow on purpose, except for one piece of paper that was sandwiched between the yellow newspapers and the glass. It says Trump 2016. Dad made the joke that it was Trump’s headquarters, before saying Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania, is the last place Donald Trump would ever be. In this way, and this way alone, that Trump is like God.
I know he means a lot to people. He means the world to my grandmother. My grandmother is 70 years old and has never shown as much passion for politics as now. She likes because he, “tells the truth.” Those are Grandma’s words. My grandma hates illegals, transgenders, and Muslim women wearing hijabs. Trump is her guy. I have friends who are Muslim. They have been a great deal more accepting of me and kind to me than my grandmother. The worst thing he did was give Grandma and I another thing to fight about. She will make announcements about the latest things Trump has said with a gleam in her eye. During the semester, we would get into debates about it, but I’m too tired out from the other things we argue about, like my books. The only thing that woman hates more than me changing the channel from Fox News is the sight of my books. It’s like living with Danny DeVito/Mr. Wormwood from Matilda. Why did this have to be the way I am like Matilda? We have a real Odd Couple thing. I am by no means the most organized person. I have ADHD and depression.Grandma’s chief concern is the house being clean., She does not believe in psychology unless it can get me a disability check.
It’s hard to convey my thoughts on who I favor leading the country for the next four years. I say, the one good thing about Hillary winning would be that Bill would be in office again. He came to my school in the spring semester, and I shook his hand. Unlike the time Barney came to my second birthday party, it’s a moment with a public figure of the 90’s that I can remember. Also, my grandfather went to high school with him in Arkansas. This, unlike my father’s extraterrestrial origins, has been validated.
I believe Hillary is too controversial to lead the country. The president is supposed to inspire his or her country. I may have been too fond books about presidents when I was a child, with an encyclopedia, The Big Book of Presidents, and a book with the same information for children, but we have to elect someone that we can take seriously and respect. I also don’t want the first female president to be chosen simply because her opponent made her an easy choice.
When I took W̶h̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶G̶u̶i̶l̶t̶ ̶1̶0̶1̶ United States to 1887, Professor Paul Newman taught us that the whole reason for the democratic and republican party being so different from each other, was that once the two parties were not that different, but things changed with Jacksonian Democracy. As a way of gaining support from the lower and middle classes, Andrew Jackson learned how to speak their language to recruit them to the democratic party. Zinn called this, “an ingenious mode of control,” in The People’s History of the United States. Zinn explained that Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren and politicians like him “were attempting to banish political disorder from the United States by a balance of power achieved through two well-organized and active parties.”
Yes, despite what my grades would lead one to believe, I can learn and retain information. More importantly, I can repurpose it. The problem that has arisen is that the parties lack organization. Republicans are becoming Democrats and Democrats resigning to indifference. The previous statement may only relate to me, but I am isolated on a hill outside of Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania. So, I’m the only liberal I have constant contact with at this time.
Do I worry that my of some of my thoughts are fueled by Grandma having Fox News on in the other room all day? God, I hope so! I have learned to distrust politicians and the media. So much of what informs people’s opinions is misinformation and propaganda. I am going to go to the voting booth and worry that this is Al Gore eats babies all over again.
I started identifying as a Democrat during the 2004 election. The only time I ever voted for a Republican was in kindergarten when we had a mock election, even though we did not know how to read. The only reason I voted for Bush was that a girl in my class told me Al Gore ate babies. I was kind of gullible and really stupid in kindergarten. I have watched too much Daily Show and Colbert Report to ever switch sides.
In the same way, that Jackson and Van Buren were able to convince the lower and middle class to side with the Democratic party, Trump has done the same with his supporters, by capitalizing on their xenophobia and frustration. I come from a food-stamp family. I can be angry about people like Marisol Conde-Hernandez for being able to attend Rutgers-Newark in spite of the fact she is not a legal student, but instead, I will be envious. I will be envious of the fact she has a family that is willing to cross through the desert to give her a better life, when my parents hardly even went to a parent-teacher conference, and I gave my dad the last of my money so he could make his car payment.
My dad thinks that Trump would be good for inciting the next American Revolution. “If the leader has to be killed for the next American Revolution, it should be Trump.” Dad has always had radical ideas. He’s been saying he’s an alien for years, which doesn’t make sense to me and I will tell you why, if it is alright I digress. When I was four or five, I could not fall asleep. I was staring out the bedroom window, where I watched the moon and for whatever reason feared aliens would come and get me. Dad came in and comforted me by telling me he killed all of the aliens. So, am I to believe my dad killed all of his kind? Anyway, if what he says is true. He’s an illegal alien.
There are more facets to the immigration issue than I can begin to understand. When my grandmother says, “They need to stop coming into this country,” I tell her we need to stop giving them the incentive too. It is not my place to suggest how we make our country less enticing for people who come here illegally, but before we worry about immigration reform, we should worry about reforming our educational system and the way we treat our poor. Maybe we can add empathy to the school curriculum because I hear my grandmother’s vitriol, understanding she is a product of her time, but still in utter disgust. The biggest part of the relationship between my grandmother and I is our strife and our constant opposition to each other, and I worry that this will be mirrored in the rest of America.
When I told a friend about why my grandmother supports Trump, I realized I couldn’t say without making my grandmother look like a really bad person, but I think more than political compatibility, her support relates to deep, philosophical parallels. When my grandmother wants you to do something, she’ll call you names, thinking that bullying will lead one to acquiesce to her demands. She’s always telling me to stand up for myself and stop being so nice to people. Let them walk all over me, but when I tell my aunt, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” my aunt yells at me to leave, and Grandma does nothing. The only time she ever laughs is the menacing cackle she gives off whenever she threatens to burn my books.
It is my hope that a year from now I will be on my way to being the first person to get a master’s degree on top of being the first one to graduate college. I hope to be away from home. The best thing to do in this town is leave it. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, and I think the only way to love my hometown is from afar, and enjoying it as a visitor now and then. Donald Trump, in this dream scenario, will be on a reality show or Fox News putting his two cents in a billion times over. He is good for TV, so long as it’s not the State of the Union Address. He can continue saying idiotic things without being a catalyst for World War 3.
A year from now, my life as a full-fledged adult will begin, but the thing that has me stressed out is the impending presidency. Just like Brexit, a controversial decision is being made by people who were statistically speaking will not have to with the consequence of their choices. I am glad that I am pursuing a career in writing/publishing, as being one who preserves the first amendment while also being willing to go through revision for the sake of good communication, because if this world needs anything presently, it is good communication.
As for my family, I am slowly learning that I can’t ever expect them to accept me and that I cannot find validation through them. Instead, I will find my validation through my work and the solitude that comes from putting my thoughts onto paper, but I’ll never forget that they made me who I am, They guided me by being living a life of examples of what not to do, and I can’t help but be thankful. They’re so damn unpredictable that I don’t have an idea what might happen with them. Anything is possible.
Tonight, when Trump announced Mike Pence as his running mate, Grandma was angry. “He’s going to lose now.” I only hope.