I received this email from rude reader MP last week, and it seemed right to share this just before we gather once again with family members who have betrayed everything you ever believed about their innate goodness. I've edited it a little for clarity and to take out things that identify him, and I've removed a few lines of praise for this-here blog because, well, that seems kind of masturbatory to leave in:
"My in-laws are crazy, rabid, evangelical consumers of right-wing media. My mother-in-law is the worst, but they're both top level bad. Her favorite thing to do is just scroll headlines on her Facebook feed, liking and sharing link after link of toxic garbage. Times were when her daughter and I were dating that she'd sit us down and make us watch Glenn Beck with her, because he was 'so smart.' We've been together ten years now, and I keep thinking something's gonna change with them. They can't just keep this up, can they? They're the unhappiest, most fearful people I know, and they have no one to blame but themselves. They've let Rush and Glenn and Bill and all the others do this to them.
"So why the fuck am I writing to you telling you about people you already know? Just to let you know what has changed since The Donald got 'elected.' They came down to stay with us for Thanksgiving; we all used to live in the same town, but my wife and I moved away a few years ago to a big town that actually has opportunity in it. We've recently had a baby; our first, and their first grandchild. I thought this, this would make my mother-in-law knock it off. She can't keep staring at her phone and sucking up the toxicity when she has a granddaughter to dote on. But, oops, yes she can. She can indeed.
"So we've spent eight years being told how terrible it's gonna be, how many awful terrorist Muslim (but I repeat myself, amirite? (I'm not right)) things are going to happen under BHO. The fact that none of it happened hasn't made a dent in their faith in the doomsayers. And now we have DJT, whom they happily voted for. So on the third day of their stay, I simply sat down with my crazy, angry, fearful mother-in-law, a women who once told me she hated me because I didn't want to have a gun in my house, a woman who once told me to Go Fuck Myself when I asked her what made her dislike Hillary so much (she couldn't actually name a single thing, she just knew she should), a woman who threw my keys on the roof the day after our wedding, in front of all our out-of-town friends, because we wanted to go have lunch together with people we never see... I sat down with her as she scrolled through her dumpster fire of a news feed and just asked her, 'Please defend Donald Trump. You have a daughter. You have a granddaughter. How can you defend what he's done and said to women?'
"Surprise, she couldn't. The best she could do was repeat talking points (she literally said 'locker room talk') and after a few minutes of simply asking her to tell me what she liked about the person she voted for, she was screaming at me, saying I was "a sonofabitch. Fuck it!" and throwing leftovers in a cooler so she could leave (which is remarkably awkward, because they bring a ton of shit and spread out all over the house when they stay over, so there is no just up and leaving; it took a full hour after her tantrum to actually leave).
"The thing is, I've endured this before. What made this the worst thing ever, and what makes me write to you, and what gives me so much fear for the future of my family, and my country, is that my father-in-law, who was standing there this whole time, didn't tell her to STFU. He's absolutely on her side in terms of ideology, but he's always been there to tell her she's being ridiculous and that we shouldn't be talking about these things. But here she was, screaming obscenities at me, and here was me, just asking her to talk to me, and he told ME to stop it. Told me that I was the one making things worse. Told me that I was gonna kill her if I didn't stop. Stop what?!
"I've been reading you for 8 years, I think...in the recent past, you helped me keep focused on not letting these people get me down. I mean, yeah, it gets me down that this is what my wife has to deal with more than me, and it kills me that these are my daughter's grandparents, but while I might have been willing to roll over and try to find some way, any way to appease them, your writing has always been there to remind me, 'No, fuck that. They are wrong and I am right, and barring ideology, they are terrible and I am civil, and I cannot let them win this fight.'
"I think the next few years will be tough, but not in the way they were for the past 8. We had to listen to my in-laws say everything that was GONNA happen for 8 years, knowing as long as we could get them to shut up, everything would be fine, because none of what they said was true and we could focus on just keeping the family together. But now I worry that they think they need to fight us harder, because they 'won' the election and the country needs people like them to speak their minds even more forcefully than before. Obviously I, a middle class white guy, am ultimately going to be fine. But if I can stand my ground with these people, hopefully I can stand my ground against all the people and bullshit they represent."
The only things I'll add to MP's letter is that I don't think being a middle-class white guy is going to be the inoculation against everything that's coming (some of it, sure). And while I appreciate the kind words about offering ways to resist complacency, let's none of us, especially the scribblers, forget that action doesn't end at the keyboard.
Finally, I'm so goddamn glad no one in my family voted for Trump (which means the title here isn't technically true, but I'm an ally to all of you with shit relatives). Yeah, the ones who voted for Gary Johnson were wrong, but they despise Trump, viscerally and actively, and I can go to Christmas dinner with a clear conscience.
Happy holidays. All of them. Hope they're peaceful and restful and restorative because, in the new year, it'll be time to fuck shit up.