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October 27, 2016

Daughter Is A Democrat, So Some Things Are Better Not Discussed

During the occasional car ride in their silver Honda hybrid, Hannah Jannol is listening to Donald Trump debate on MSNBC with her Republican family. In the front, her mother and 14-year-old brother Avi comment in agreement, while in the back, 16-year-old Hannah rolls her eyes and looks out the window — trying to tune out Trump.

Her 11-year-old sister Alina, who has not yet formulated a political opinion, sits in silence next to her. If Hannah hears something she really disagrees with, she’ll retort back — causing her mother, Ms. Batya Jaffe, to raise her voice.

Hannah has known she is a liberal Democrat since seventh grade, when she started to explore social activism articles posted on Facebook. Feminist blogger Marina Watanabe introduced her to liberalism.

Since then she has taken her passion for social justice to The Boiling Point, where she reported the story of a Jewish transgender man named Benjamin Kenner, originally Rochel-Leah Kenner. Ms. Jaffe disapproved of this, because she doesn’t believe that people should publicize uncomfortable topics when there are more pressing issues to write about, like the government taking money from people to give to the unemployed through taxes.

I still kind of scratch my head sometimes how she came out so liberal.”

— Ms. Batya Jaffe

Although she feels her family rejects her opinions, Hannah is confident in her liberal stance and doesn’t hesitate to defend it. She says she learned this perseverance from kickboxing — another one of her passions.

In kickboxing, she said, when someone hits you, you hit back and defend yourself. When she feels it is necessary, Hannah defends her liberal views. But her parents’ minds, too, are made up.

“I’ll listen to them, but they won’t listen to me,” said Hannah of her parents — Ms. Jaffe and Mr. Neal Jannol, Hannah’s dad.

Ms. Jaffe favors Trump’s wall between America and Mexico, while Hannah does not. Ms. Jaffe favors deporting illegal immigrants, while Hannah does not. Ms. Jaffe is gets upset when media feature gay couples, saying it forces multiculturalism on viewers, while Hannah loves to see, say, a biracial or gay couple on a TV show.

Sometimes these differences cause tension in the family. There have been times when a political argument between Hannah and her brother Avi made Hannah so upset that she didn’t talk to him for a couple of days. Hannah said these periods of silence usually occur after heated debates about social equality — something she takes very seriously that her brother views as insignificant.

Ms. Jaffe tries to avoid this type of conflict by not talking about political topics, especially things like feminism and social activism. It’s more important for her to have family harmony.

But it’s difficult for Hannah to not talk about Donald Trump, especially now during the election season. She is outraged by what she sees as Trump’s racism and sexism; her mom doesn’t think it’s an important issue.

“My mom and my brother and a lot of other Trump supporters just seem to not really care that he says those things, and I think they’re underestimating it and they’re minimizing it,” said Hannah.

“We’re at a turning point in history where we can … take huge strides towards equality, and I think that we’re really almost there, but right now the issues of inequality are more nuanced. On paper, black people have equal rights, but socially, are they treated the same? I don’t think so.“

If Hannah tries to share her political opinions, Ms. Jaffe will quickly quiet her in an attempt to evade arguing. However, she’s slower to quiet Avi if he raises the subject, Hannah believes.

Still, even in this divided season, there have been signs of movement in Hannah’s family – in both directions.

This past July 4 weekend, Hannah and her family visited the Castro District in San Francisco — a gay neighborhood — during a vacation. Although there were some moments of discomfort for her mother, like when they passed two men holding hands, it made Hannah hopeful that her family’s tight bonds were strong enough to accept her liberal views.

And Hannah herself may be coming around to her mother’s view that some things are better not to discuss.

“I’d rather just let them believe what they want to believe, and to just not really talk about [politics]  any more with them,” said Hannah. “I just feel like it is unproductive and harmful to our relationship unnecessarily.”

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