What If I’m Never Able To Introduce My Dad To His Grandkids?
“I can never let him hold my daughter, knowing he supported a candidate who wants to strip her of her rights.”
The craziest election of our lifetime (God willing) is officially over. Whether you like it or not, the United States of America will swear in a new president on January 20th, 2017: Donald John Trump will make history by becoming the first leader of this country without any previous government or military experience.
Today I woke up feeling hopeless, wondering:
How can I face the people in my life who voted for Trump?
As a bisexual Latina immigrant, I’ve been pretty vocal during this entire election cycle. Not only have I been #ImWithHer ever since I can remember (and yes, I’m counting the 90s, too), I’ve also spent a good chunk of my teen and adult life fighting for the rights of others. Primarily, I care about gay rights and women’s rights. But I also care about freedom of speech (I’m a journalist, after all), immigration reform, more comprehensive gun control laws, not barring people of a certain religion from entering this country and many more issues that traditionally define me as a Democrat.
For me, there was never any question of who I would vote for.
But just as I was always sure of my own ballot, I knew some members of my family would vote for the other candidate. The one who won. Unfortunately, one of those people is my father.
As a Cuban-American immigrant, my dad has always been a staunch Republican. Many of my friends and fellow Latinos don’t seem to understand how this could be. As we saw last night, the Latino vote came out in full force to tell Donald that NO, he cannot build a wall separating us from Mexico. And NO, he cannot call us rapists and criminals and get away with it.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s election night coverage, the Latino vote averaged 81% for Clinton and 15% for Trump in 12 key states. In fact, every state voted over 80% for Clinton, with only Florida falling behind with a 67% to 31% split. We spoke up and we made our voices heard. We should be proud.
But my father is not this kind of Latino. Like many Cubans in the US (the majority of whom reside in Florida), he leans completely Republican and has been voting that way ever since I can remember. I’ll briefly explain why: Cubans who came here did so in order to escape Castro’s regime. Castro is a communist, which is the to the extreme left. Because Democrats are to the left generally, Cubans go in a completely opposite direction.
And so Cuban-Americans vote for the GOP. This has been true in the past and this was true last night, possibly being one of the reasons why Florida shocked the nation as it went red in the late hours of the night.
People like my father voted for the most vile, under-experienced candidate this country has ever seen. Trump’s hate speech actually worked.
The last time I tried to talk to my father about why he was casting his vote for Trump, we got into a screaming match. Essentially, he said something about “the economy” and not caring about social issues, and my head exploded.
I knew from day one that I would never be able to change his mind, but that didn’t stop me from feeling disappointed and utterly disdainful when he commented “Go Trump 2016!!! Hillary for prison” on a Facebook photo of me showing off my “I voted” sticker. He completely ignored the fact that I was wearing a pro-women’s-rights shirt. He’d previously ignored everything else I had said during this election year. And I, in turn, have ignored his comments, as well.
But as the dust settles this morning and we head into the next couple of months, I am more afraid than ever.
I have a pit in my stomach thinking about what this election truly means for us. I’m worried about what it means when almost half of the country either doesn’t care that the president-elect is a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-everything a**hole, or they actually like him that way.
I am concerned about what it means when half of the country hears a comment like “grab them by the pussy” and still votes for that presidential candidate. I don’t think Trump won BECAUSE of these things, but I am out-of-my-mind terrified that he won DESPITE them.
But this isn’t about the rest of the country.
This is about my own personal relationship with Trump voters—in particular, my father. How I can possibly look him in the eyes, how I can possibly hug him and wish him a happy birthday, or buy him a Christmas present, knowing that he voted for someone who wants to take away my rights as a woman? That he voted for someone who wants to take away my right to marry whomever I love, that he voted for someone who wants to ban my Muslim friends from living in this country, that he voted for someone who doesn’t want to allow PEOPLE LIKE HE AND I to enter this country?
My father would hear this argument and say that it doesn’t matter. And that truly, honestly scares me.
The real question that I can’t shake off as we move past Election 2016 is: Am I ever going to be able to introduce my dad to his future grandchildren?
I love my father. And I love my family. I want to have children with my partner, and that will happen in the not-too-distant future. But the fear that’s currently consuming me is the fear of handing off my future daughter(s) to my dad.
I can never let him hold my daughter, knowing he supported a candidate who wants to strip her of her rights. How can I possibly say, “Here, papi, hold her—even though you think it’s okay for some guy to grab her by the pussy and don’t respect her right to control her own body or love who she wants to love?”
That is not something I can say. And that’s not something I think I can do.
This election turned out to be about a lot more than just who we want to lead the country. It showed us the character of our country, and I can’t stand what that says about the character of my own father?—?a shrewd businessman who fought hard to give his children a better life in a new country.
But for all that he did for me, he has failed me now. And he has failed my future children, his grandchildren.
Rapper Macklemore posted a heartfelt message on Instagram earlier that I can relate to. “Donald Trump is not raising my daughter. I am,” he told fans. But what do we do when Donald Trump’s message is embraced by those in our families—in our homes? What do I tell my friends who posted on Facebook last night and this morning about their children crying and not understanding what happened? Unable to comprehend how the bully won? And how do I prepare for my own uncertain future now that my body, my life and my liberty may be in peril?
As for me and my dad…Well, only time will tell.