When John Tereska’s Trump-voting family members open their gifts from him on Christmas Day, they will get a shock.
Inside pretty boxes they’ll find notes thanking them for making donations to organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club that support causes expected to come under attack from the new administration.
“With my oldest brother, who I know voted for Trump, I’m going right for the jugular. I’m donating to the Democratic National Committee on his behalf,” Tereska said.
Tereska, an avid Hillary Clinton supporter, is so mad at the relatives who voted for Donald Trump in November that he’s giving money to progressive not-for-profit organizations in their names, in lieu of Christmas presents this year.
“It’s revenge giving,” he added, with relish.
Many devastated Democrats have decided the best way to make a point to their loved ones with polar political views this holiday season is to put their money where they wish their relatives’ mouth were.
Ken Urban, a playwright who teaches part time at Princeton University and voted Democratic, has made donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on behalf of his parents as their Christmas gifts.
“My father was the Republican mayor of my small home town in New Jersey and spent his career in the navy reserve. My mother told me she would never vote for Hillary Clinton because they have a friend who works for the CIA who said she was ‘difficult’. And there are aunts and uncles and cousins in my family who voted for Trump,” said Urban.
He is ruing the fact that he and his boyfriend agreed, before the election, to attend a big family Christmas gathering for the first time in 20 years.
But the SPLC donations on behalf of his parents will take the sting out of it.
“I thought I could make a point and in the process be generous to a human rights cause that is only going to become more important now,” said Urban.
Some were inspired after hearing about donations to Planned Parenthood made in the name of Vice-President elect Mike Pence, who is fiercely against abortion. Pence is sent an acknowledgment from the family planning organization for every contribution.
Randi Greenwald, a retired lawyer in Portland, Maine, heard about the Pence idea and decided to put a more personal, local spin on the tactic.
Her son’s brother-in-law is Canadian but is a big fan of Trump and has been taunting the rest of the Democratic-leaning family ever since the real estate tycoon’s surprise win in November, she said.
“It meant more to me to make a revenge donation in this person’s name to a small cause locally,” she said.
Greenwald gave the money to her state branch of the Immigration Legal Advocacy Project, ILAP Maine, which assists people with their immigration cases, including asylum seekers and refugees.
“That’s his holiday gift this year,” she said. She’s bought regular presents for other members of the family.
Her Democratic-voting relatives are highly amused at the thought of him receiving a thank you letter from ILAP, she said.
“For me, if I don’t laugh, I’m going to cry,” she said.
Francie Schnipke, who works for a not-for-profit group in Chicago, is also supporting the SPLC – in the name of her Trump-voting older brother in rural Ohio.
He went from being a non-voter to a vocal Trump fan, despite the fact that their mother is Mexican and they have a family member with special needs, she said; they belong to two groups among many denigrated by Trump during the campaign.
She thinks the brother was swept along by the rhetoric of co-workers at his transportation company.
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“He’s always been a loving brother and father. I’m reeling,” she said. “I think he was emboldened by the idea of the outsider coming to fix dysfunctional Washington.”
Now Schnipke hopes the information leaflets the SPLC will send her brother will “give him pause”, she said.
Tereska, an operations analyst for a fashion retailer in New York, isn’t only giving “revenge donations”. His sister voted for Clinton, so she is getting a “love donation” to the Human Rights Campaign for LGBT equality.
But the majority of his family members will get gifts that he thinks they’ll perceive as hostile.
“My father wrote in John McCain on his ballot, so I take that as a vote for Trump. My mother will not talk about it, so I assume she voted for Trump. They are getting donations to Planned Parenthood,” Tereska said.
“I’m still grappling with the result of the election and this is my small slice of revenge for the fact that their votes have just jeopardized me and the entire world for the next four years.”
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