Intergenerational political differences within families aren’t exactly uncommon, but when your dad is a highly visible Trump apparatchik, Vanity Fair will give you a column to excoriate his politics. Caroline Rose Giuliani, the daughter of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wrote a column urging readers to reject her father’s politics and vote for Joe Biden. In fact, she opens her piece with the revelation — one she typically reserves for the second date — that her dad is Rudy Giuliani —federal prosecutor turned New York mayor turned Fox News gadfly. As a filmmaker in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s understandable that Giuliani doesn’t want to publicly associate with her father but, in her words, “I’ve come to realize that none of us can afford to be silent right now.”
That doesn’t mean silence isn’t tempting. Giuliani shares a story about debating gay marriage with her dad when she was 12. “I distinctly remember him firing back with an intensity fit for an opposing politician rather than one’s child,” she recalls, matter-of-factly, what sounds like a traumatic childhood experience. Over the years, debates on race, sexism, policing, and the social safety net ended similarly.
“I imagine many Americans can relate to the helpless feeling this confrontation cycle created in me, but we are not helpless. I may not be able to change my father’s mind, but together, we can vote this toxic administration out of office.”
This is the crux of the piece: Politics might be depressing (she would know!) but they’ll only get worse if citizens allow themselves to be repelled from the political process.
“Running away does not solve the problem. We have to stand and fight. The only way to end this nightmare is to vote.”
Two-thirds of that statement is correct. Voting isn’t the only thing that will end “this nightmare,” as she puts it. Civic engagement, not running away, and facing politics also includes things like marching in protests, calling and writing legislators, and, in this case, writing a political op-ed in a national magazine. Voting might well be a necessary step but it’s far from the only step and, arguably, far from adequate.
Still, voting is where political activism starts for a lot of people. It’s pretty much the least transgressive way to implement your beliefs: secretly, within established systems, and probably in a church or school gymnasium. So if Giuliani’s argument turns a non-voter into a voter, she will have been successful. And if that person becomes an activist in the future because they took the first step of casting a ballot, then she will have been wildly successful. And anyways, the pandemic, climate change, and the sorry state of American democracy mean this election could have dire consequences.
“We are hanging by a single, slipping finger on a cliff’s edge, and the fall will be fatal. If we remove ourselves from the fight, our country will be in freefall. Alternatively, we can hang on, elect a compassionate and decent president, and claw our way back onto the ledge.”
And while listening to your uncle spout Fox News talking points might be tough, listening to your dad spout Fox News talking points on Fox News has to be exponentially tougher.
“If I, after decades of despair over politics, can engage in our democracy to meet this critical moment,” Giuliani writes, “I know you can too.”