I got a shock a few weeks ago around a Thanksgiving table that my family and I did not get to share. Our plans for a happy turkey meal together had been dashed by the hosting family getting COVID only a few days before. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, the remaining daughters decided to take the large portions of their contributions to nearby homeless distros. We brought down the little grands from the mountains later and we all enjoyed appetizers and pie, skipping the meal entirely. Nobody complained, but it was a bit sad. Covid brother found out he had been laid off the day after he tested positive, and we were all feeling pretty bad for him. My SO and I were both missing our moms and their mashed potatoes and formal Thanksgiving dinners, (may they rest in peace.) Still, we were grateful for family, food and shelter.
Then things got weird. All of us are liberal. We vote Democratic and we all loathe tfg. But somehow something had been planted in one daughter’s ear about I/P and she was very, very down on Joe Biden for his role (non-role?) in what was going on. I heard her say something about “Free Palestine,” and inquired.
She had nothing good to say about the leader of our party. “He said he’s a Zionist!” Omg. When did this become a thing for her? I’d NEVER heard her talk about Israel or Palestine before. We have no ties to either one.
I asked. She ranted and raved. Her frustration growing, I could see she was too hot to reason with. She is a single mom in her 40s and she’s never worked only one job. Many times she has had three at a time to make ends meet. She has loads of college and many talents, but no degree. She’s very independent and tough. She’s also bi and has a trans son who is 15. She is barely making it, as opposed to her siblings who are all married and so have more stability, though none of them feel secure in the world as it is. They’re all smart enough to be scared shitless, and to understand that the GOP is a one way ticket to…much worse and scarier stuff.
So what happened that alarmed me so much? In the middle of her rant, I heard these words:
Biden is no better than Trump!
Well, obviously I had to let loose. As did her father. In truth, we were so stunned, we could barely speak. Over Israel? We aren’t Jewish or Arab. We have never weighed in on anything around that conflict. Where was she getting this information? We protested, and she adjusted her POV to say well, maybe not quite the same. I was absolutely devastated. Because I recalled this same daughter saying the very same thing to me in 2016 about Hillary and Trump. That line was going around a lot of young people who didn’t understand politics. And then we lost. I reminded her quietly of that, and said that thinking is incredibly dangerous. She was activated and didn’t hear me too well, though we have since cooled and found common ground. I’m pretty sure I can convince her. But what about all the other people (younger people, I’m guessing) who are sharing these ideas and feelings? Because they didn’t spring up out of nowhere. (tic toc?) I heard her say, “Biden should bow out and let someone who can do something take over.”
We had to leave. Hugs and love goodbye, but we couldn’t even speak on the way home, and it’s a long drive up the mountain. Next morning I was weepy and my SO was despondent. We were in despairing shock.
Later, I texted another daughter who was there. “Is this a real thing? Do you feel this way? Do others?” This daughter is a stay-at-home mom who is an artist and a nurse but homeschools her kids. She is also very much a climate and social activist — and everyone who knows her knows it.
Her response was honest and disturbing. I am the green voice.