I am close to divorcing my mother over Trump, but I think we’ll pull through. The last time we spoke was by telephone, and it ended like this: “Fuck you!”

For the following week or so, no communication, till I emailed her: “I’ll write soon.”

I wrote and wrote and dropped it in the mail. Seven pages long, single space, most of it a full-throated defense and description of the free press. I wrote:

And now we have a president who has declared the free press “the enemy of the American people.” If you buy that, then you are branding me as an enemy, too.

She wrote back: “I can’t participate in this dialogue” and”my life expectancy is short.” This second point is true: my mother has a rare disease that will likely shorten her life, but her death is not imminent, and even if it were it would underscore the urgency of the need for her to hear me out and understand me. To use the specter of death as a dodge is a truly low blow.

I fired back:


I’ve received your letter and it has enraged me and made matters worse. Do you want my relationship with you to be like your relationship with your father? By saying you can’t continue this dialogue, you are closing the door on a meaningful relationship between us. By disregarding my very thoughtful and honest letter, which I spent weeks writing and thinking about, by refusing to discuss the very important matters I raised, you’re rejecting a relationship with ME — who I am, and who I have become — and you’re asking me to play a role in a superficial approximation of a relationship.
But if you really want to move forward and grow closer as mother and son, this is a dialog you’ll have to engage in.
Love, Joe

This morning, Allie quizzed my resolve. “What are you hoping to accomplish?”

I tried several times to say something that sounded right but nothing really did. In the end, it always sounds petty: I need her to know that I’m right and Bill O’Reilly is wrong. But deeper it’s about her respecting and accepting my calling in life. I need her to believe that I am not an enemy of the people.
And I believe she will come around. I’ll send a more compassionate note in a card in a week or so. I’m not going to let her off so easy.

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