Someone You Love Is Voting For Donald Trump — Now What?

So, someone you love is voting for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

You’ve watched him slither into the vacuum of coded hate created by conservative pundits and start saying out loud what Fox News & Co. have been dog-whistling for twenty years. We’re going to deport Latinos and build a wall to keep them out! We’re going to shut down the borders so even American Muslims can’t get back into this country! Black people don’t succeed because they’re lazy! Ugly fat women should be fired and replaced with nice pieces of ass! You’ve seen the cartoonish narcissism. The way he lies as casually as a sociopath. And the sheer idiocy. “An extremely credible source has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” “Obamacare is killing everybody. It’s killing everybody.”

And you know what? This person you love, they’ve seen it too. They’ve seen his racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, maniacal ravings and they’ve decided they’re going to vote for him anyway. They plan to walk into that booth on election day with their eyes wide open and cast a ballot that says this heinous clown is the guy they want to handle the myriad overt and covert wars America is embroiled in, to restore our crumbling infrastructure and deteriorating school systems, to overhaul our energy policies to prevent climate change from wrecking the planet even further, to thwart nuclear proliferation and spearhead international diplomatic initiatives, to sustain and rebuild the disappearing middle class, to close the gender gap, to tear down systemic inequalities, to get a handle on gun violence, and to heal the partisan divide that has made governing this country nearly impossible.

The guy who once spent an entire month on Twitter chiding Robert Pattinson for dating Kristen Stewart, that’s the guy your loved one is going to vote for to lead the United States of America.

Here are five things you can do to not lose your mind over this reality.

1. Accept that you’re not likely to change your loved one’s mind about this right now.

The sad reality of American politics is that the overwhelming majority of people are low-information or single-issue voters, meaning that they don’t understand or don’t care about the sum of what elected officials do, or they vote based on their perceptions of a candidate’s personality as opposed to a candidate’s qualifications. This person you love, they’re likely voting for Trump because he “tells it like it is” or “isn’t part of the establishment” or “isn’t owned by special interest groups.” You can talk about Trump’s idiocy and bigotry all day long, and explain why it’s terrifying to think about those things intersecting with the demands of the American presidency, but your loved one is probably not going to hear you. It’s important to manage your expectations about this so you don’t end up feeling even more defeated than you already do.

2. Make it personal.

Telling someone they’re wrong isn’t really an effective way to change their mind. Instinctively they bristle up like a cat’s tail and respond with anger and defensiveness. The best way to reach people who disagree with you politically is to make it personal. You love this person who is going to vote for Donald Trump and they love you. Maybe they don’t realize how much you stand to lose if he is elected. Explain it to them.

“I only make 67 cents compared to every dollar my male colleagues make, and Trump has proven that he has no interest in closing the gender pay gap. I work really hard and am barely able to pay my rent and buy groceries, and Trump’s going to make it even harder for me to get by.”

“By using racially charged language and scapegoating techniques, Trump has incited his supporters to attack brown people. I have anxiety every time I leave my house and walk past the houses with Trump signs in the yard.”

“Trump doesn’t believe I should have the right to marry the person I love and as long as marriage-equality remains a talking point in American politics there will be people who feel like they have the right to discriminate against me.”

3. Do good in a different direction.

Rather than ramming your head into a wall you probably can’t crack, figure out how you can change a small piece of the world and start moving in that direction. If your main goal becomes changing your loved one’s mind about Trump, you are setting yourself up for a miserable 2016. You’ll feel impotent and frustrated and angry and despondent because the chance you’ll get through to them is so slim. (They haven’t been duped by Trump. He is what he is and he hasn’t disguised it.) But doing good and seeing positive change, that’s going to nourish your spirit, encourage your heart, calm your brain, and give you momentum to change more and more and more things for the better.

  • Campaign for the candidate you believe in. Get involved with grassroots organizations in your area.
  • Campaign for the issues you believe in. Find organizations doing what you want to do to change the world, and join them.
  • Do good things that aren’t explicitly political. I work with the ASPCA here in New York to take care of feral cat colonies, including spaying and neutering these sweet street angels. It doesn’t make a difference in the presidential election, but it makes a difference to homeless cats, and that makes a difference for my heart and my community.

4. Be wise about the information you consume.

The hot take cycle on the internet always moves at a feverish pace, and quadruply so during election season — this year, it’s out of control. I have dialed back the time I spend on Twitter and Facebook by about 90 percent this year. The onslaught of stories, the replication of a single piece of information, the frantic opinions, the ping-ponging mania of every shift in public perception, and the people I love and respect saying things that made me want to poke out my eye with a fork: I had to back away from it because it was making me anxious and depressed. Be extra vigilant about what and how you’re consuming news and interacting on social media this election season. You don’t have to read and respond to every single story. You don’t have to be up to date with every single shift in the polls and every word that comes out of every candidate’s mouth. You get to choose when and how you learn what you learn.

5. Talk it out with like-minded people.

Whether it’s here on Autostraddle dot com or in a Facebook group or on Twitter or at work or in a pub, vent out your frustrations with people who also love someone who is going to vote for Donald Trump. Commiserating will help you cope and provide you with a support network of people who are also striving to enlighten their friends and family, too. Being hugged by someone who gets it always helps.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 802 articles for us.

63 Comments

  1. My dad is very very ashamed that I’m gay- but he’s literally a Mexican immigrant dead set on voting for Donald trump so the shame is going both ways now. He’s choosing not not to recognize my relationship, I’m choosing not to recognize his shitty extremist political views. Equality?

  2. I really believe that #4 is the key:

    Leslie Moonves (executive chairman and CEO of CBS) on Donald Trump: “It May Not Be Good for America, but It’s Damn Good for CBS”.

    So, I rather get my info in things like this: John Oliver, 21 minutes to destroy Trump.

  3. Reading this with the Donald Drumpf browser extension was an experience.

    Making it personal comes with the risk of confirming your suspicions that the person you’re trying to reason with actually doesn’t care about your struggles, so that’s a hard one for me to manage. But the rest of these are definitely things I can and do more of (especially cutting back on social media, it’s such a black hole).

  4. This could not have come at a more appropriate time. My dad and I have always been on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but I never in a million years thought my dad, who is both the smartest person I know and my best friend, would be actively supporting Donald Trump. We got into is this weekend, and instead of trying to argue with him, I just openly wept in front of my family. Fox News has stolen our parents’ generation from us, and it breaks my heart.

    • “Fox News has stolen our parents’ generation from us, and it breaks my heart.”
      oh man this is so so real, though.
      it turned my former West-Wing-and-Jed-Bartlett-loving parents into anti-immigrant people who believed the American lie of bootstraps and it killed me so much.

      my dad has finally stopped watching so much Bill O’Reilly and mostly returned to the land of the good, but goddamn. that network’s poison. it’s some powerful shit.

    • I know exactly how you feel. I have arguments all the time with my mother over fox news. She out and out refuses to believe anything that refutes something said on fox news because they “tell the truth.” I tell her to look it up, but she refuses. She goes off on Obamacare but when I point out that I, myself, am on Obamacare and she was estatic that I finally had health insurance after 10 years of not having it, she spouts a bunch of lies that were already debunked. There’s no winning.

      Her only knowledge of Muslims comes from fox news. And we all know what that is. My cousin converted to Islam several years ago to marry his wife. My mother can’t believe that their five year old daughter is allowed to wear western clothes or knows all of the Top 40 pop music. Or that his wife wears western clothes. I had to explain to her that just like xtianity, there are varying degrees of Muslims and most are not fundementalist terrorists. In fact, it is a tiny percentage. In one ear and out the other.

      I’m pretty sure she’s voting for Drumpf. My father on the other hand, is a little less entranced by fox and can see reason. Which is why I will sit down with him and watch the John Olliver Drumpf segment and talk to him.

    • There’s a reason sweetheart. Actually do your research on BOTH candidates then make your decision and realize that mainstream media spins everything Trump says to make him look bad. I don’t agree with everything he says but Hillary belongs in prison and so does her husband.

    • Please remember it is not always the parents who want Trump. We love Bernie and are pretty devastated because our son is strongly supporting the orange menace.

  5. Trump stands for the trump brand not a political ideal. At least with Cruz and Rubio you know where they stand. Trump is nothing but a cult leader. A dangerous cult leader bringing in all sorts of people who have no idea what they are choosing. No body in either party likes him.

  6. I guess I just have mostly sane friends, because I don’t know of any who are supporting him (or at least, they’re not vocal about it). So I’m always surprised to find out that people are actually taking him seriously …but apparently, many Americans are. 🙁

  7. My father once had Sarah Palin’s website as his homepage (nothing girds the loins for a foray into the liberal hell storm of the internet like a hit of Palin). Think about that. He heard Sarah Palin say words and not only agreed with those words but enthusiastically sought out more of them.

    Even though we haven’t spoken in years, I can feel his excitement for Donald Trump in the marrow of my bones. It’s Jurassic Park all over again but the ripples in the water glass are coming from the force of his fist pumps every time Trump leads in the polls.

    Do I love him? Yes. Am I befuddled and hurt that my father is vehemently supports candidates that I find repugnant? Yes. Do I think it endlessly hilarious that he spawned me, thus ensuring his political inefficacy as my vote cancels out his ad infinitum in some sort of Darth Vader/Luke death spiral through time? Absolutely.

  8. HEATHER this article is brilliant!!! I sent it to my Dad because his lady friend is like… Very republican to say the least and he is reading it right now! He is into it! He isn’t even paying attention to the tv show we are watching! Thank you for writing this.

  9. quite frankly – if I had a loved one voting for trump they would no longer be a loved one. sometimes you have to respect yourself and realize that even if you care for them you have to walk away. voting for trump means walking away.

    • Pat them on the head saying “at least you’re not voting for Trump” ? …
      idk I managed to stay friends with a guy who votes for Sarkozy sooo… We just agreed never to talk about politics. At least we share some cultural values (gay marriage, abortion rights, etc).

  10. We have never discussed it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my mother might vote for Trump. (Even though she voted for Nader in 2000. She’s a very odd duck, politically.) My strategy is to not bring it up because I’m not sure I want to know. And if she tells me, I plan to be the neutralest, blandest interlocutor possible. “Mm. So how was that movie you watched?” The Trump conversation is a road I officially Do Not Want To Go Down.

    • Am French, can confirm. I’m strapped to my seat feeling like we’re all in a freight train rushing towards a very big wall and I do not want to find out what’s on the other side of that wall.

    • Thinking these exact thoughts in Croatia; I don’t know what’s worse, not being able to do anything about it (since you’re not a US citizen), or facing the terrifying possibility of trying and failing.

  11. Thank you for this article – so excellent.

    My dad is voting for Trump (after a long love affair with Cruz), and I could not be sadder. Usually we have fun debating the issues and needling each other for our polar opposite politics, but it’s a mark of this election (and Trump) that those discussions haven’t even been possible. And that is so saddening.

    To the comments about just kicking these people out of your life – that’s not a solution for everyone. Plus, Trump supporters themselves are contradictory and complex people. After I came out, my dad left his church over a disagreement with his pastor around LGBT issues. My dad loves and is supportive of my partner. So no, I’m not kicking him out of my life, even if this particular decision confuses and saddens me.

  12. I had a mini panick attack reading this :
    “the guy they want to handle the myriad overt and covert wars America is embroiled in, to restore our crumbling infrastructure and deteriorating school systems, to overhaul our energy policies to prevent climate change from wrecking the planet even further, to thwart nuclear proliferation and spearhead international diplomatic initiatives, to sustain and rebuild the disappearing middle class, to close the gender gap, to tear down systemic inequalities, to get a handle on gun violence, and to heal the partisan divide that has made governing this country nearly impossible.”

    And I thought MY JOB was hard. Also SCANDAL lied to me clearly, I thought the president spent his day discussing with his mistress whether or not to fire the first lady.

    Great piece of writing as usual, Heather. I’ve cut some friends out for political reasons before (I couldn’t ever again get along with a person who votes FN in France, like there is NO WAY I could even look them in the eye again).

  13. My mom says she’ll vote for Sanders over Trump but Trump over Clinton.

    Sander is the only of these 6 options I’m willing to vote for.

    Women who take an active part in shaming and persecuting women who accuse their husbands of sexual assault and THEN say they think all Rape accusers should be believed have no Feminist cred with me.

    Trump is an obvious Fascist, but Cruz is the worst, It really scares me how the Liberal Media is giving him a free pass on his Dominionist affiliations.

  14. Elizabeth Warren needs to be the democratic nominee. Hillary is too risky…what if cruz/trump/etc are the republican nominees and win the presidency b/c of hillary’s scandals.

  15. We found out our parents are Trump supporters. We decided to just make a video about it to deal with our feelings and hopefully get more people out there to vote (and outweigh our parents Trump votes!)

    Video is here: https://youtu.be/N2bSDugpkVs

    “My Parents are Trump Supporters”

  16. Thank you. I just had it out with my brother in law after hearing my nephew spout off about support Trump.it felt like child abuse. The words that we coming out of his mouth. He’s 15.I’m still in shock.

  17. Sorry, but the 70 cents on a dollar thing is a myth. It’s been debunked so many times it isn’t even funny. When comparing apples to apples, i.e women with the same degree as a man, in the same field and the same years of experience, statistics show that the gap is almost nonexistent.

    Secondly, Trump is probably about as LGBT friendly a Republican as we’ve ever seen. He’s not religious at all and doesn’t seem to have any visceral hatred of gays that I can discern. I don’t remember him ever speaking out against gays.

    I don’t say this to defend Trump, I can’t stand the bastard. But just wanted to be fair here too.

  18. I just found out a friend is voting for him. We’ve been drifting apart for years, and this was the final straw…She said “I hope Trump wins. Maybe he’ll shake things up.” I wanted to say “Yeah, you better believe he will shake things up! Get ready for your whole family to be living with you because none of them will be able to afford rent when he cuts their food stamps off.” But I knew it was pointless to say anything, so I simply said I had to go. It will probably be the last time we ever speak.
    But I wanted to thank you for your article. It calmed me down considerably.

  19. I send dozens of emails back and forth with my mom, trying to convince her to NOT vote Trump. All it did was show me that she really was quite bigoted in ways I never knew…

  20. Dear Heather,

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. I was feeling very hopeless and enraged, and just like you mentioned: defeated. I am so thankful to have found this article, it helped infinitely. I particularly like your suggestion to do good in a different direction… There are several things I feel very passionate about, and I could talk about them for days, but I’m ashamed to say to this day I haven’t taken many concrete steps in doing something about it. If you truly care, you will show it through action, and I think I’ve been lacking in the latter.

    Thanks again for the positive vibes.

    Sincerely,
    An aspiring do-gooder.

    PS: The cats thank you too =^.^=

    • Enough of this “safe space” crap. That’s why conservatives laugh at liberals and don’t fear us. Toughen up. Thicken your skin. Forget the safe spaces. Get bold, own your identity and get confrontational. Fight back and fight back hard. Don’t retreat to some damned safe space.

      • I think you might misunderstand what is meant by safe space? Of course we’re going to “Get bold, own your identity and get confrontational,” but at the same time is there really any harm in finding a place to lick your wounds after a battle? Especially for trans women of color who are probably getting the brunt of this, having a good “fort” is necessary and we need some amount of protection for each other.

        Also, as much as conservatives laugh at us for safe spaces, in a way white churches and websites such as StormFront and taxidermy/hunting websites function as safe spaces for conservative white men.

      • I am confrontational as fuck, all that gets me is:

        A) Oh just ignore Lex, she’s crazy and doesn’t really know what she’s talking about if you refuse to engage she’ll feel stupid and look like the rude one

        B) That bitch is crazy back away slowly

        C) Oh hm sure what ever you say and then when they think I can’t hear them mock me for being sooo ridiculous

        And you know what being a confrontational ball of fury 24/7 gets fucking exhausting. Having a wall instead of skin is not a way to live.
        Taking a fucking breather, having a space to let the walls down and be person among fellows and not a warrior is not retreating or surrendering.
        It’s regrouping, refueling.

        I’ve sat across a holiday table from someone who tried to choke the life from me, someone who’s face flushed with rage would come flooding forward to the front of my mind when someone I loved and trusted put their body above my in sexual congress.

        Do you think you could do that? Sit next to the person who screamed “I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU” while wrapping their hands around your throat. Not budge an inch as those same hands reach next to you for a bread roll.

        Do you think you could do that without needing a break? With out having someplace to go after where you can let it all out and be among people who believe you when you say he was trying to kill me when you own mother tried to tell you he didn’t mean it. Because how could she deal with the fact one of kids tried to kill the other? How does a mother deal with that?

        I fucking doubt it.
        People who talk like you.
        “Toughen up” “Thicken your skin” are fucking weaklings in my experience.
        Are bullies who mock people with trying to actually cope with and deal with stuff.

        I resist and bite, just because my jaw needs a rest doesn’t mean I won’t step up to take a chunk outta somebody who thinks they can walk all over me and mine.

        A rest isn’t a retreat.

      • Fear mongering got us into this mess; why do you think having conservatives fear us would be the answer? That’s the equivalent to fighting fire with fire. Also, it would be much appreciated if you pointed your imperatives at someone else.

  21. I’m not American and this is late but I’m even in a bad mood with my labour supporting dad cos he was too lazy to go out and vote yesterday…
    I think he thought the polls stopped at 5pm which of course they don’t so he remembered at 7 and didn’t do anything about it.

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