Since the election last Tuesday, I’ve been very disoriented and confused and not quite sure what to make of the future of the country and my family. I grew up in a Republican household, my dad is a small business owner and understandably wanted fewer taxes and regulations to allow him to grow his business. My mom listened to Fox and Friends every morning while she drove us to school, CNN was never on, the New York Times was not our daily paper, and my parents had always voted Republican with the exception of our family friend and neighbor, Tim Kaine. I remember growing up thinking Bill Clinton, AL Gore, and John Kerry were entirely unfit for the job of president. But I couldn’t have told you why other than that’s just the way I grew up. But with the recent fear of a Trump presidency and more specifically Trump repealing DACA and their other attacks on marginalized groups in this country, we’ve all drifted from any semblance of understanding of the Republican Party.
I voted for Obama in 2008, embarrassingly (under the influence of ideologues) Johnson in 2012 (albeit I hoped Obama would win), and Clinton in 2016. In all local and state elections I’ve always voted Democrat. And in the past few elections, my parents have drifted that way as well. The reality is, my family’s horizons have broadened and we’re more aware of the greater struggle at play with many of our compatriots.
Our bubble of white privilege burst when my brother-in-law arrived on the scene. He’s in the United States under DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a law that allows children brought here undocumented to remain, to receive driver’s licenses, social security numbers, get an education, and get jobs. And he’s taken advantage of every one of those opportunities. He came here a decade and a half ago with his parents and his three younger sisters. He learned English in high school with the help of a committed teacher and graduated and worked as an electrician with his dad for a few years. He met my sister and from day one of meeting him I knew, or at least hoped, that he would be the one to marry her.
They dated for a few years and married two summers ago. He has since earned an associate’s degree from a local community college, a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill, and will be starting work for Bank of America next week. Basically, he’s the flippin man.
So I credit him for the revelation that we can’t just look out for people of our own nationality, or skin color, or gender, or background. He’s a better person than I’ll ever be and the Republican Party treats him like he and his family are criminals. And I’m not just talking about Trump. It’s nearly unanimous among that party, whether announced or subtle, that practically anyone who isn’t white is less of a citizen of this country.
Trump vows to repeal all of President Obama’s executive actions on day 1 of his term. So on January 20, Trump repealing DACA, which he stated intentions of doing in his 100 day plan, he’ll get rid of any semblance of security that our families have felt over the last four years. One of the few reasonable Republican legislators, Lindsey Graham, opposes Trump’s repealing of DACA but unfortunately there’s literally nothing anyone can do to stop him, not even members of Trump’s own party.
Members of my own family who voted for the president-elect said “Trump just wants to deport the criminals,” despite the fact that he has made it expressly clear (at times) that he has full intentions of deporting all of them. So the reality is, which is unreasonable and scary, we really don’t know what will happen on January 20. President Obama has been fighting to secure our borders and deport criminal aliens for 8 years. So maybe that’s all the next in line will do. But Trump repealing DACA sends a message loud and clear. We do know that it’ll end the security our families have. It may end his chance to work or continue his education, but none of those things seemed to matter to members of my extended family who supported Trump throughout his campaign.
Just before the election one of my friends wrote on Facebook that he votes for based on the future he wants for himself and his family. On the surface it seems like a justifiable stance. But after thinking about how the current Republican Party practically only stands for whites and specifically white men, I realized that to be a sincere and selfless member of our community, local, national, and global, you have to vote for everyone. And that means getting over the tax burden keeping you from owning a beach house and understanding that we’re all in this together.