Here’s the fairy tale:
A widowed lord with one daughter remarries.
His daughter is sweet and kind and beautiful, and her new step-mother grows to love her.
But then a new emperor comes to power. He is fickle and vain. He spends lavishly on trips around his empire, and everywhere he stops, he tells his subjects of his great adeptness at ruling.
When he comes to the town where the widowed lord, his daughter, and new wife live, they go to see him speak in their town square.
The emperor is pompously dressed. What little hair he has is coiffed around, what the step-mother assumes, a shiny bald scalp.
“No one could rule as I do,” the emperor begins. “I inherited a land in ruin. Murderers and thieves invade us from the south, taking your jobs and your lands. We must make this empire great again, and we will!”
The widowed lord and the step-mother cut eyes at one another. They are in agreement: this new emperor is stupid and incompetent. The step-mother trembles with worry. Stupid rulers could damage a country for decades to come.
When the emperor is done speaking, he nods to his advisors. They come forward and throw bright red hats with the emperor’s insignia on the brim into the crowd.
The widowed lord’s daughter grabs at one and holds it to her chest.
“Oh daddy,” she says. “Wasn’t he wonderful?”
The step-mother purses her lips in silence.
“He was . . . something,” the widowed lord says tactfully. His daughter smiles, and then, spotting a friend in the crowd who also had caught one of the emperor’s hats, runs to her.
If I was an evil step-mother, I might have then planned how to kill my step-daughter: a poisoned apple, a hired killer, a copperhead in her bed.
But I’m not an evil step-mother; I’m just a liberal one.
When I started dating my now husband, it was clear his daughter and I would never agree politically. But she’s a kind sweet girl who hates confrontation, so we have and likely never will fight over these differences.
She is a product of her small town, her conservative mother who is her primary residential parent, and the state within which we live. Since 1972, the Republican Party has won Tennessee in 7 out of the last 11 elections. The most recent time the state turned blue was 1996.
We live in Trump’s America.
Trump’s America believes, regardless of the candidate, the Republican Party is the more “Christian” choice. “Christian” solely defined by a party’s stance on abortion. You’re either “for” abortion (Democrat) or “against” it (Republican).
Trump’s America also has no problem with the lack of taxation for the 1%. My step-daughter believes she “might be rich someday too,” so why should the government take away her hard-earned money?
“Can I order a Trump shirt?” she asks her father at dinner one night.
“For what?” he asks, glancing at me.
“All my friends are doing it. We’re going to wear them to school,” she says.
I stand up and clear the dishes.
Though the sink is running, I can hear them as they look through options and arrival dates.
I don’t want her to advertise her support of an idiot bigot, a man who’s said disgusting things about women.
But I’m not an evil step-mother.
I won’t shame my step-daughter for what she’s been raised to believe. Right now, she’s still just a child, three years away from being able to vote. I can just hope that as she moves more through this world, she becomes less ignorant, and that when she’s ready to discuss, she feels safe enough to bring her questions to me.
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