By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Last week, my husband and I called our relatives in Texas and Pennsylvania, who voted for President Trump. Our conversations didn’t end well… We voted for Biden.
Meanwhile, a former high school classmate in California, who voted for Trump, was venting about the election in a WhatsApp group text. Should I just ignore their anguish, anger, and disappointment? Some probably say, “The election is over, it doesn’t matter how the Trumpers feel.” Really? Didn’t you hear that Trump is talking to his inner circle about running in the 2024 presidential race?
The last thing I want is to destroy our relationships with extended family members, close friends, and community members. Why should we let Trump have that power over our lives!?
“We are not enemies,” Biden said, “We are all Americans,” even though we disagree. “Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now,” said Biden. He also urged Americans to think about what they can do together. It’s time for us to move on.
Democrats and the media have accused Trump for lack of empathy, especially during the pandemic. He never comforted families who lost loved ones. Are we going to follow his mean spirit and pay no attention to our loved ones’ distress because of our political differences? I did my best to understand Trumpers’ viewpoints and make peace with family and friends. It’s also important to understand why some Asian Americans voted for Trump. We have to do what we can to help others to heal.
What surprised me is, Trump loyalists could find no faults in President Trump’s character and behavior even though my relatives and friends are devout Christians. Some call Trumpers hypocrites because of their double standards.
Trumpers’ rage is not so much at Biden, but the Democratic Party. That was reflected in the election with Republicans doing much better than Trump and the Democrats in the House and Senate. They blame the Democrats for turning the country to socialism, promoting homosexuality, pushing to defund police, and the adoption of a $15 minimum wage. It’s unreasonable, said my relative.
“Texas’ minimum wage is $7.25. Jumping to $15 instantly won’t work. How are businesses going to afford $15? That should be a state or local decision,” he said.
My relatives and friends have completely adopted the Republican platform, such as anti-abortion, illegal immigration, religious freedom, strengthening the military, and appointing conservative judges. Yes, they agree with Trump to keep China in check. It’s incredible none of them mentioned that Trump is racist.
One interesting misconception that they have is, Democrats are going to take away their driving rights. I don’t know how and where my relative got that. One explanation is, they consume a lot of fake news. Could it be what Biden said about transitioning America from using fossil fuels to clean energy at the last presidential debate?
Unlike pro-Trump protesters in Washington, D.C. last weekend, my relatives and friends are not delusional. They never said the election was rigged. One Seattle friend who voted for Trump said he was glad Biden won. And he’s proud of Vice President Kamala Harris. That implied he realized that Trump doesn’t have the best character, but he likes his pro-business stand. All Trumpers said Republicans will do a better job for the economy. We will wait and see. What shocks me is, they have forgotten that our economy was ruined under President George W. Bush, a Republican. The unemployment rate at the beginning of the Bush administration was 4.2 % and it increased to 7.8% at the end of his term. Also, economic growth was slow during his years. Whereas President Obama was able to turn the economy around, increasing growth and jobs. When Obama started in 2009, the unemployment rate jumped from 7.8% to 10% the first year. When he left in 2017, the unemployment rate was lowered to 4.7%. The economy had recovered.
Biggest surprise—pandemic responsibility
I have been a good listener to Trumpers’ positions except one issue. My relative said Trump lost because of the pandemic, but it shouldn’t be his responsibility. That’s when I lost my patience and interrupted him. He said it should be up to each state to fight the pandemic.
To let states design strategies on their own to battle the virus is a disaster. COVID is a deadly and contagious disease, which spreads easily from human to human, state to state, country to country. Finer than a human hair, the virus has no boundaries. No wonder America is experiencing a national tragedy with over 250,000 deaths, and over 1 million infections in the last few weeks. The U.S. has the worst COVID record in the world despite being a global power with riches and scientific advancement. We fail because we lack a national strategy to fight COVID. Nor do we have a plan to learn and collaborate from other successful countries, such as South Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand, which have lower deaths and infection rate. Washington state and Hong Kong both have a population of 7 million. But Hong Kong’s population density is much, much higher, and more conducive to the spread of COVID. Yet, Hong Kong has no more than 50 cases in the last 10 days, and only 1,850 deaths so far.
However, Gov. Jay Inslee just announced our state’s toughest measure to control COVID due to the spike of 2,309 infections as of Nov. 15, and 2,519 deaths.
Why don’t these Trump supporters wake up! The only consolation is all my relatives believe in wearing masks. None follows Trump’s example of defying masks.
Dealing with Trumpers
Every American has a responsibility to bring the divided country together. To mend our relationships, I told my Trumpist relatives and friends, “We don’t have to agree all the time. That’s the beauty of freedom of speech and democracy. I am happy we can share and agree to disagree. We have to respect each other’s views.” Patience and empathy are what I employ when talking to Trumpers.
Many people have let politics and this election destroy their families, relationships, and friendships. I reach out to my close friends to listen and engage and strive for a deeper understanding.
Currently, husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings are trying to stay away from politics. I interrupt the conversation only when people treat fake news as facts. Mostly, I bite my tongue and let Trumpers talk. One relative was so emotionally drained after the election that she kept yelling on the phone. She was so loud that we had the phone at arm’s length. The next day, she emailed and apologized.
Some friends assume I am a Democrat because of my leaning to vote for the party. I am neither. I am an independent. The Northwest Asian Weekly has endorsed candidates from both parties since our early days.
I have a confession to make, though. For the first time, I was forced to identify myself as a Democrat so I could vote in the primary election. This was the first time I checked the party affiliation box on the ballot. I didn’t vote in the 2016 primary even though I supported Hillary Clinton. I changed my mind in this election because this election was too important to forfeit my right. I doubt if I would do it again.
Supporters of President-elect Joe Biden feel electrified. So many have been shouting, “We won, we won.”
It’s exciting to see your guy get to the White House. But if you continue to let the other side feel like they are losers, we will all lose eventually. The losers would only use their energy negatively by hurting instead of contributing to our country. With Trump’s vindictive nature, he is going to stir up hostilities and revenge to sabotage Biden’s administration.
Follow comedian Dave Chapelle’s advice, “Be a humble winner,” as he said during Saturday Night Live. “Forgive,” he said. There is nothing worse than fostering hate and violence.
Think of the big picture rather than your impulse to satisfy your ego. Self-control shows wisdom. After all, you know who won.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.