For years, I have attempted to get my mom to register to vote, but she has thwarted me at every turn, mostly by ignoring me. Until this year, when after years of my bullying, she finally signed herself up to participate in our flawed democracy, registering just in time to vote in the primaries in Texas. Her goal? To get Donald Trump, a man she believes doesn’t have the moral character to be president, out of office.
Given the buffet of options for the Democratic Party, who would she choose? Last November, she had told me she had heard good things about Elizabeth Warren. Imagine how I felt when, on the day she registered, she texted our family and told me that she would be voting this year because of my “persistence,” and that she now was a fan of Michael Bloomberg. Thus began my campaign to convince her to vote for anyone but Bloomberg, which ultimately ended in failure.
When I called my mom on Wednesday morning, I wanted to ask her—why??? But I was also proud of her for voting for the first time because she’s my mom and I love her and she rules. It wasn’t easy to raise five kids while working six days out of the week, after all! We chatted about the reasons why she never voted before, why she’s not a fan of Trump, and, now that Bloomberg is out, who she prefers out of the remaining candidates. Spoiler alert: my mom just might be a Bernie Bro at heart.
The interview was conducted in Mandarin, and has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. And please don’t be a rude bitch in the comments, this is my mom we’re talking about!
Mom: Who won [in Texas]?
Esther Wang: Joe Biden.
Was it close?
It was close. Bernie lost by about four percentage points.
I feel better, that it wasn’t just my vote that made Bernie lose! I didn’t realize there were going to be so many other people on the ballot. And I didn’t know any of those people. I just picked randomly! So terrible! When I left, I said, ugh, why didn’t my daughter tell me?
I’m sorry mom! I should have explained the process more. This was your first time voting. How did it go?
It went well. I felt more like an insider, not an outsider. Before, I felt like I was just living here. Yesterday, I felt like a part of this country. I felt involved, like I was participating.
So it felt good! This was your first time voting in any election. What made you not want to vote before?
Let me tell you, when I got here, I was so busy working, I never had time. Also, I never felt politics impacted me, had any relationship to me. I was working every day, most Saturdays. I just felt like I had no time to take part, and that it wasn’t important. This time, if you didn’t get me to register to vote, I wouldn’t have voted.
I’ve never voted before, not even in Taiwan. I came to the U.S. right after I graduated. I felt I was here as an immigrant, to work and raise a family.
Why did you decide to vote this year?
I wouldn’t have registered if not for you! In 2016, I was still working. Now, I’m more relaxed. I’ve read more news, because of Trump. Before, I felt whoever you chose, it didn’t matter. They all felt kind of the same. But Trump, this president, the way he speaks, it’s important. It matters.
After Trump got elected, I felt his personality wasn’t suited to be president. It felt really strange.
Is it just his personality that you don’t like? What about his policies?
I don’t know too much. I know Democrats support poorer people. Republicans want everyone to work hard, don’t want to support social services. But I feel whoever is voted in, doesn’t really impact me. I feel pretty middle-class. I’m not poor, I’m not rich.
But I feel a leader, no matter his abilities, his personality needs to be good. How Trump speaks, it’s all lies. He has no good qualities. How can you be a leader?
He doesn’t fear heaven or earth. Whatever he wants to do, he does. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. He’s strong. He must have been a bully in school. I heard a story about a time he didn’t pay his contractors when he owed them money. He’s not righteous.
You voted for Bloomberg, even though I told you not to!
I thought Bloomberg, he’s very rich, an equal with Trump. I picked him because I saw a news article that he had managed New York City really well, did a lot of good things for the city. And I thought, if he had managed the city well, he could manage the country well.
His propaganda, I don’t know, it worked. I know you said a lot of people in New York City didn’t like him, I know you said he treated women badly, but at least he wouldn’t hang out with prostitutes! The moral line is important.
And I thought Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren couldn’t win against Trump. I thought they were weaker.
Because you put out a Democrat, for example, Sanders. A lot of people like me, who’s not a Republican or a Democrat, when you have to vote, won’t vote for Bernie. That’s just my feeling.
I don’t know much about Bernie except that he’s old. I guess Bloomberg is old too! But Sanders, I don’t know what exactly what he wants for the American people. His campaign, what can he offer the American people and what does he want to change? I haven’t read much, I haven’t listened to the debates.
My friends aren’t that interested in politics, like me. I just know one person who told me that he wants to get rid of student loan debt.
Do you agree with that?
I think college students are too stressed, you have to work so many years to pay off student debt. I support that. We should let them take a breath. Young people have to work too hard. My thinking is, very rich people should give more of their wealth for things like this. They don’t need it. So young people can concentrate on other things, so they don’t have such a burden. Why have so much money? But how would he do this?
I think a tax on Wall Street, or a wealth tax.
I think there should be a wealth tax. When you have hundreds of millions or billions, why do you need it? It should help society.
It looks like the race is down to Bernie or Biden. Do you have a preference right now?
Bernie or Biden are both fine. I think Biden would be better, because he has more experience. But both would be good, both are decent men.
Now that Trump is president, anyone can be president, including you.
Thanks, mom! Do you have any last thoughts?
Thank you, Esther. From now on, I’ll continue to vote. In the U.S., there’s a lot of people like me who don’t vote, a lot of immigrants like me who became American citizens who are indifferent to politics. But their kids can mobilize them to politics.
Update (12:20 p.m.): After my mom read this Q&A, she would like to clarify that she thinks Donald Trump tells “a lot of lies,” and not that he lies all of the time.