You’re an idiot. You’re a fascist. This election has tested us.

You’re an idiot. You’re a fascist. This election has tested us.

Photo courtesy of University of New Haven

Susan L. Campbell, Charger Bulletin Advisor

I grew up in a mixed household.

My parents were rock-ribbed Republicans. My mother will go to her grave believing Nixon was framed. My grandparents were yellow-dog Democrats. Fellow Missourian Harry S. Truman was their north star, and if there’s a heaven, he still is.

Every Election Day, my mother would skip out the door and merrily call to my grandmother that she was off to cancel her vote. My mother worried about hippies and Democrats and drugs and sex. My grandparents didn’t seem concerned about hippies, drugs, or sex, but everyone was interested in arguing.

No one was formally educated, at least as far as book-learning went, but everybody read. I counted once and my family subscribed to nine different magazines – “Time,” “Newsweek,” “Look,” “Life,” “Reader’s Digest,” you name it. If that wasn’t enough, my grandfather subscribed to the “U.S. News & World Report,” which he called the “Republican mouthpiece.” He’d read it – my grandfather, with his fourth-grade education – and shake his head. I was in my teens when I realized all those magazines were a means of self-defense for the arguments that would erupt as soon as Pres. Johnson upped the ante in Vietnam or Pres. Reagan cut another social program.

Let me be clear: We embraced Christianity, but political discussions in my home involved shouting and name-calling and – if we had them – knives pointed at throats. The script was:

“You’re an idiot.”

“You’re a fascist.”

“I’m hungry.”

“Let’s go eat.”

It wasn’t that we didn’t mean the nasty things we said to each other. We meant and felt them deeply, but we also loved and trusted each other, and that allowed us to remain on speaking terms through decades of shouting until we were hoarse.

This administration has tested that. My brothers and I (my little sister is decidedly apolitical, which in my family, is like being a unicorn that speaks French and drives a school bus) each picked a side. Two of us became conservative Republicans. One of us went off the deep end on the left. Our political conversations are still loud and vigorous and – here’s weird — I always come away smarter for them. No one has changed their politics, but knowing why people think the way they do is a lot better than dismissing those people outright.

I hope my candidate wins on Tuesday. I hope my candidate wins big. And one of my first phone calls after will be to my family so we can roll the tape. You’re an idiot. You’re a fascist. I’m also hungry. Let’s eat.