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This Is Me: A Democrat in a Family of Trump Supporters

"It's hard. They watch Fox News and that’s it. They’re just seeing this one side."
Image by Ryan Weisser.

This Is Me is a new column in which we speak to Washingtonians who have a unique story to tell. Are you in an open marriage? Did you leave your job on the Hill to become a bartender? Do you support yourself as a social influencer? We want to hear all of your stories—no matter what the subject or how kooky they may be. Email Mimi Montgomery at mmontgomery@washingtonian.com.

Name: Jess May, who voted for Clinton in the 2016 election.
Age: 32
Lives in: Frederick, MD, with her husband, who voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

On getting into politics:

“Not really until this past election have I gotten more educated and more aware of what’s going on. For whatever reason, this presidential election was just very different from anything we’ve ever had. I’m sure it had everything to do with Trump. He was a reality TV star, he’s not a politician, he has no political background. It was just a very different situation. You had a lot of people coming out in support of Trump because they felt that we’d been in this rut of the same types of politicians, and I guess they wanted a change. Everyone’s much more outspoken, and [my husband and I] tuned in a little bit more to what was going on during this election than either of us ever have before.

I’m registered Democrat, mostly because that’s where I lean a little bit more. I lean more toward the environment and medical care. My husband has a military background, and many military people are Republicans, so I understand that and I understand his views.

I do try my best to stay neutral. In my mind, personally, I’m not solely about parties. I think that’s one of our biggest issues at the moment. If someone who is a Republican came up to me and they had certain ideas that sounded like good ideas, I’d be all for it. I don’t care if they’re Republican or not.”

On living with someone who has different views:

“Normally we don’t discuss politics too often in our house, because we have differences in opinion, but on [a recent drive] to my parent’s house, my husband brought some [political] stuff up. We actually had a fairly nice conversation, and while we didn’t agree on everything, it was calm and it was just nice. I was like, ‘See, this is lovely. If only it could all be like this.’

I’m lucky that my husband is very calm. We both really try to keep an open mind to what the other person is saying. Sometimes it doesn’t change anything—we still both have our separate opinions. But maybe there’s something that I can change his mind on; maybe there’s something he can change my mind on. If it does start to get heated, I try to be aware. If I start to get a little bit louder, I either try to bring my voice back down or say, ‘Hey, I think we need to take a little break on this. I think we need to change the TV channel off of the news.’ And honestly, even though I’m passionate about what I’m saying, it’s not worth it to me to get into an all-out fight with my husband. I love him.”

On the couple’s differing political stances:

“When Trump first proposed his budget for last year, I saw this huge cut to Medicare and Social Security, but [my husband] saw this huge increase for the military. That’s very important to him. While I agree having a strong military is important, we shouldn’t be abandoning all of these other programs. When Trump wanted to have his military parade—I’m like, that’s such baloney. But my husband’s point of view is well, he’s celebrating the military. My husband was in the Navy for seven years. He was on two deployments, so he saw it as a celebration. I saw it as a man who wanted to celebrate himself and wanted people clapping for him and praising him. It’s a huge waste of money. I’m like, if you want to give back to the veterans, put it in the VA. He wants to be Kim Jong-un down in North Korea with his military parades and everyone praising him. That’s absolutely ridiculous.

My husband’s never openly been against issues [like abortion or LGBTQ rights]. He’s never really commented on Roe v. Wade. We do have friends, especially his friends, that we all went to high school with who are very hardcore Republican. They’re against all of that. So who knows? Maybe if he talks to them, he’s one way, and when he talks to me, he’s another.”

On trying to stay open-minded:

“Unfortunately, in this day and age, I feel like you have to do your research. You can’t just watch CNN; you can’t just watch Fox News. I try to follow up on things. If someone posted something on Facebook, and I’m like, hmmm that doesn’t quite sound right, I’ll look that up on Snopes.com and do my research to see if it’s actually true or not. If I hear something that is said or reported on the news or in an article, I want to be able to back it up with three other articles. Whereas, I don’t think [my husband] does the research. He works for a government contracting agency. I think he hears a lot of what other people are saying.”

On handling parents with different political views:

“It’s hard. They watch Fox News and that’s it. They’re just seeing this one side.

Not too long ago, my dad and I were out to dinner, and we got on the topic of politics. He was like, ‘You know, I voted for Obama the first time, but the second time, I didn’t because he just sucked.’ And I was like, ‘Well, what do you mean he sucked? You can’t just give this broad statement. Give me an example.’ And he said, ‘Look at the employment rate. With Obama, it was the highest unemployment rate we’ve ever had.’

Obviously, I didn’t have that information at the top of my head, but that didn’t seem right. And he’s like, ‘It’s true. They said it’s true.’ And I’m like, ‘Who’s they?’ And he said, ‘The news.’ And I said, ‘You mean Fox News.’

Shortly after, I looked things up, and obviously that was not the worst unemployment rate. It would have been nice if there was an acknowledgment of you know what, you’re right. But it wasn’t. It was well, blah, blah, blah—kind of changing the subject. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging if something’s incorrect. We all need to be more comfortable with that. Maybe that would decrease some of the fighting.”

On Election Day:

“In the morning, I cried. I think we all just assumed Hillary was going to win. Of the two, she obviously was the most qualified. As things kept going and Trump won this state, Trump won that state, I ended up going to bed. I was like, ‘I can’t watch this anymore. This is too stressful.’

I woke up and my husband told me Trump won. I was blown away. I was like, you’re kidding. And all day, I was just kind of in this fog of this can’t be real, this can’t be reality. It was just very strange. It was a scary thought of what could change. What could happen. Even looking at the LGBTQ community—I have a lot of gay friends. I know they were nervous. It was just this question of is everything going to be revoked?

Thankfully, the few days following the election, [my husband] was pretty quiet about it. I know there are plenty of people out there who would rub it in. Thankfully my husband’s not like that.”

On her family’s current thoughts on Trump:

“Both [my father and husband] are looking forward to him leaving office. That surprised me. A lot of it has to do with his antics, his drama, his rhetoric; everything is very flamboyant. Even my dad is like, ‘I’m sick and tired of that. I don’t want to hear any of that anymore.’

My father still thinks there are some good things Trump has done. He still thinks the economy’s up and up, which obviously we all know is not 100 percent Trump, but that’s what I think my father and my husband are looking at—the economy, their 401K accounts. They’re looking at the supposed business aspects of the government, and I guess that’s why they voted for Trump. But whoever ends up running on the Democratic ticket would have to be pretty bad for them to vote for Trump again.”

On if political differences have affected their sex life:

“Not to the point where we’ve gone to bed angry or anything like that. Not from politics, thankfully.”

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Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and freelanced for PoPVille and DCist. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.