This guy’s picture is going around:
This guy, at the rally with his wife and three kids, in his “She’s A Cunt, Vote For Trump” shirt. pic.twitter.com/NDQMz1uteG
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) October 11, 2016
I shudder every time I see it, but not because of him.
I can’t stop thinking about his wife. She’s standing there next to him, and not that women can’t be misogynists (see Schlafly, Phyllis) but God, this election has made me wonder about so many people’s marriages. Women who are afraid to tell their husbands they’re voting for Hillary. Husbands who are “ashamed” to tell their wives they’re voting for Trump. The bargains and compromises people have made to stay friends and friendly that are being ripped up right now and set on fire, because nobody can maintain the facade anymore.
We think of politics as an abstraction. We think of it as distinct from real human events. Like there’s politics and friendship, politics and family, politics and “real life.” How many times do we hear this on TV, cats and kittens? “It’s just politics.” “It’s all political.” “Don’t politicize this” that or the other thing. And when we push back, and say all politics is personal, when we say politics is the roads I drive on and the schools my kids attend, politics is the quality of the air we breathe and what kind of jobs we can get and where we can live, we get told we’re naive and stupid and Doing It Wrong.
We’ve made this double world, of the unreal things that happen in Congress and statehouses, for the cynical benefit of this or that player, and then out here there’s the rest of us going to school and work and fixing up our houses and we can ignore it all, say a pox on both parties, a pox on the process, I’m dropping out. And we make a list of things we do not say, because they are about politics. As if politics isn’t about family, when politics determines who can marry and adopt and have children and how many and when. As if politics doesn’t grow the food and pay for it, too.
We’ve built this mirror universe, and now it’s breaking apart.
I’ve seen lots of tweets in response to the one above, along the lines of “I want to make this guy cry in November.” Don’t get me wrong, I do. But I can’t stop thinking about his wife. Imagine being so broken that you stand next to that, maybe thinking he’d never say that about me. Imagine being that certain that the kind of hate that leads you to put a sign on yourself I AM A GAPING ASSHOLE will never be turned around on you. Imagine telling yourself a hundred times a day, he doesn’t hate me like that. Imagine how scared you’d have to be, all the time, whether you know it or not.
And maybe she isn’t certain. Maybe he does hate her like that. Maybe he says things to her in private that make that T-shirt look like a compliment. Maybe he doesn’t say cunt, but he says things like this:
“O’Reilly interviewed him and threw him 15 softballs that he should have hit out of the park and what does he do? He sits there and stares and denounces [Paul] Ryan and McCain. I was watching with interest and my wife turned to me and said: ‘I don’t know if I could vote for him.’ I said, ‘You’re voting for him!’ But it went through my mind: What if Putin insults him? Does he drop a bomb on Moscow or something? I’m not sure he is stable.”
There have probably been a thousand compromises before that, a thousand things unsaid, because politics isn’t personal, it isn’t Thanksgiving dinner or flowers on your birthday. But in addition to ripping away the veil on America’s love affair with racism and the true amount of supporters white power theology has and the GOP’s lust for power and conservo-evangelicals’ willingness to give their God a middle finger, it’s made a lot of wives understand how much their husbands hate women.
I don’t know how they come back from that. Maybe instead of a national election we should be raising money for a divorce lawyers’ fund.