Keeping Family Peace In The Age Of Trump

Published 9:59 am Thursday, January 19, 2017

We don’t talk about Donald Trump any more. We talk about the weather. We can talk about music and agriculture, Vladimir Putin and Roy Cooper, religion, menus and traffic. We talk about economics, taxes and ecology. We can discuss the New York Yankees and even the relative merits of Duke University Coach Mike Krzyzewski and UNC’s Roy Williams. We talk about anything … but the next President of the United States who will be installed Friday at noon.

Trump’s name has been off limits for a month since my second born repeatedly bemoaned the future of the nation and the world after the November election.

I may have said something like, “Get over it” and “Give me a break” and “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Actually, I said all three in quick succession, and our conversation suddenly turned sour. After a rumpus, we agreed to never speak of Donald Trump. Our harmonious relationship is too important to be affected by presidential politics.

We voted very differently on election day.

I was #NeverHillary and he was #NeverTrump.

For weeks before the election my Robert’s highest and most pressing goal was to help his father see the light. Despite his gallant efforts and persuasive abilities, I would not be saved.

I didn’t worry about his choice. I always figured North Carolina would vote for Trump. Our state’s electoral votes would not depend solely on one ballot. Besides, it didn’t bother me that he voted for Hillary. I voted for McGovern in 1972 as the Vietnam War raged and my draft number was 21.

The peacenik McGovern had at one point said, “I would crawl on my knees to get the POWs back.”

Americans didn’t like the idea of their President crawling and re-elected Richard Nixon in a historic landslide.

My father, a Nixon man, similarly, told me I was wrong.

A lot of us make political mistakes in our youth … before we start paying taxes. I vividly remember my first pay stub and being horrified that the state and federal governments had robbed me. The theft continues.

For all my sons, teaching them how to think was more important that teaching them what to think. Sure, I may have tactfully advertised my political prejudices.

Many times Robert made me feel old during our pre-election conversations. He was filled with zest and enthusiasm and was convinced this was the most important, most vital, most pivotal election of our lifetime. I countered that every politician says that every four years. My advantage of historical perspective sometimes felt like the mantle of old age.

Robert bemoaned the terrible tone of the election. I suggested that the campaign — considering many others — was rather civil.

He pressed me that Donald Trump’s outrageous character flaws were everything I had always warned him against. He had me there. But I said Hillary had already demonstrated she was on the take with all the Clinton Foundation gifts from foreign governments. If the choice was between a crook and a clown, I’d take the clown.

He predicted peril if Trump won. I said if I could endure eight years of Obama, he could withstand four years of Trump.

It was a stimulating debate, but the quiet of the past few weeks has been welcomed.  We may one day be able to utter Trump’s name again in the same room, but no time soon. Family is more important. Even with his passions of youth, Robert was wise enough to recognize that.

Best wishes to the Trumps and the Obamas.