America hasn't been this divided almost since the end of the "Reconstruction" era. President Trump has been labeled the most polarizing political figure of his generation. In certain areas, the red 'Make America Great Again' baseball cap simply cannot be worn without the risk of harassment or physical violence.
This has made many Trump supporters all the more stubborn about expressing their views, provoking confrontations and arguments at the table during family get-togethers.
In a recent piece published just one day before Election Day, Reuters spoke to 10 people who shared how their support for the president has impacted their relationships with family member.
One lifelong Democrat named Mayra Gomez, an immigrant to the country, told her 21-year-old son five months ago that she was voting for Donald Trump. In response, she says, he cut her out of his life.
Their last argument was so acrimonious, Gomez isn't even certain whether their differences can be overcome.
"He specifically told me, ‘You are no longer my mother, because you are voting for Trump’" Gomez, 41, a personal care worker in Milwaukee, told Reuters. Their last conversation was so bitter that she is not sure they can reconcile, even if Trump loses his re-election bid.
"The damage is done. In people’s minds, Trump is a monster. It’s sad. There are people not talking to me anymore, and I’m not sure that will change," said Gomez, who is a fan of Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and handling of the economy.
Once upon a time, elderly family members relied on their children and grandchildren to run errands and help provide for them in old age. That social contract has now eroded to such an intense degree that many believe it's too late now: the damage to the inter-generational relationship will be almost impossible to repair, even if Trump loses, few expect the animosity animating Trump and his supporters to fade quickly.
"Unfortunately, I don’t think national healing is as easy as changing the president," said Jaime Saal, a psychotherapist at the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine in Rochester Hills, Michigan. "It takes time and it takes effort, and it takes both parties – no pun intended – being willing to let go and move forward," she said. Saal said tensions in people’s personal relationships have spiked given the political, health and social dynamics facing the United States. Most often she sees clients who have political rifts with siblings, parents or in-laws, as opposed to spouses.
Neighbors have turned against neighbors amid a flood of reports about lawn sign vandalism, and there has even been a surge in divorces:
Gayle McCormick, 77, who separated from her husband William, 81, after he voted for Trump in 2016, said, “I think the legacy of Trump is going to take a long time to recover from.”
The two still spend time together, although she is now based in Vancouver, he in Alaska. Two of her grandchildren no longer speak to her because of her support for Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago. She has also become estranged from other relatives and friends who are Trump supporters.
Finally, a study by Gallup found that Trump’s third year in office set a new record for party polarization; as 89% of Republicans approved of Trump’s performance in office in 2019, only 7% of Democrats thought he was doing a good job.