It’s the eternal question discussed during those testy Thanksgiving dinners and on long car rides: how to engage your parents when they are voting for a different political candidate. Perhaps no election has made that division more pronounced than the 2016 one, where supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have engaged in a vicious general election battle.
College sophomore Kaylin Bailey said that while her entire family is voting for Trump, she intends to vote for Clinton, a result of different values between herself and her parents. Though her parents were not Trump supporters initially, once he became the nominee they decided to vote for him due to their loyalty to the Republican Party and “disdain for Hillary Clinton.”
“I’ve always known about the difference in values — my parents don’t sympathize with LGBT citizens, immigrants or anybody who ‘takes away their guns,’” Bailey said. Having spent time in a more liberal environment at Penn, and already having become more liberal than her parents, Bailey said that she understands that she cannot sway her parents on these issues over conversation at the dinner table.
“When politics happens to come up, I still encourage them to vote, now and in the future, based on what they want in a candidate as opposed to a political party,” she said.
Though she disagrees with her parents’ position, Bailey said that she “tries to inform these elderly white southern conservatives on issues they simply don’t know much about.” When they ask her who she will be voting for this November, Bailey replies by joking that her ballot is going to Clinton “just so I can cancel out one of their Trump votes.”
A College sophomore, who asked not to be named to describe private conflicts, said she knew her parents aligned with the Republican Party and was very interested to see their reaction to the final two candidates: Clinton and Trump. “I was actually a bit surprised to hear my father say that he would be voting for Trump,” she said.
Though she now understands that her father is voting for Trump for party purposes, rather than in support of his personality, she said, “I do not necessarily judge him even though I do not support Trump.”
It is difficult, however, to be in the liberal environment and know that her family supports a widely condemned candidate here at Penn, she said.
“I am frankly embarrassed to say that my parents are voting for Trump as I go to class on a campus with professors and fellow students who laugh at the concept.”
An Engineering sophomore, who also asked not to be named, also said it was difficult to reconcile her family’s support with the way Trump is talked about at Penn.
“Attending a liberal school where students are extremely vocal about their resistance to Trump as a presidential candidate, I feel so embarrassed to reveal that my father is a strong advocate for him,” she said.
She noted her discomfort at seeing his avid anti-Hillary Clinton posts on Facebook, and the “constant feuds” he has with Clinton supporters who comment on these posts. “I often find myself agreeing with the distant relatives and even people I do not know in their arguments against my dad,” she said. “I frankly do not understand how a man with multiple daughters could vote for someone so disrespectful, even though he does not agree with many of Hillary’s policies.”