Dear Tell All: My in-laws are in the basket-of-deplorables demographic. They are among the white, uneducated, rural, working-class, hyper-religious Rust Belt voters who cheered Donald Trump from the beginning of his campaign. They loved his attacks on immigrants, feminism, climate change treaties, abortion and gun control. These are the people who believe “the elites” are ruining their lives. Who believe a woman’s place is in the home. Who believe, against all evidence, that a reality-TV buffoon can make America great again.
My wife is the outlier in this family: a college-educated liberal. I’m from the north-side Chicago suburbs, have a master’s degree, and am Jewish, making me an extreme outlier at her family’s get-togethers in central Wisconsin. Still, her relatives never sneer at us in person. They’ve always been friendly to me despite our cultural differences, and they seem to have genuine affection for my wife.
But I know how they really feel because we’re Facebook friends. Their Trump cheerleading was rancid and relentless. And it wasn’t just their political views — it was their mocking contempt for those who supported Hillary Clinton. In other words, my wife and me.
Now comes the gloating. I’ve seen it on Facebook, and I dread facing it in person over Thanksgiving and Christmas. How am I supposed to get through the holiday season?
Dear In Hell: You’ll get through it the way I suspect you always have: by making polite conversation and marveling over how friendly your in-laws are in person. Just because you differ with them politically doesn’t mean you can’t make a human connection. Rather than writing them off as “deplorable,” how about giving them credit for civility? Like a lot of us, they flaunt their partisanship on social media while acting decently in real life. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a positive sign.
I’m rooting for you to get along with your in-laws over the holidays, In Hell, just as I’m rooting for all of us to mend fences after a polarizing election.
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