The 2020 election posed a very important question to the American people. Which do you prioritize more, and which will you choose: your party or your country? Otherwise stated, will you vote for four more years of toxic anguish, or promote the restoration of democracy? Clearly, this was a resounding question to the record-breaking nearly 150 million Americans who turned out to vote on Nov. 3. While there is still much to be done following President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, the answer to this question, for the majority of Americans, is country first.
This election has been a matter of country over party for many prominent Republican officials who pledged support to Biden, or at the very least denounced President Donald Trump, throughout the 2020 campaign process. Examples include former President George W. Bush, former Ohio Governor John Kasich, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, and many others. This support across party lines created further divisions in an already flawed and questionable partisan system.
Outside of these large government circles, however, the 2020 election saw many more divisions transcending party lines. It is inevitable to have different political views from a few friends and family members, but what happens when officials in the spotlight have family members who speak out—some of whom are their own children?
One of the most hectic instances of conflict from differing viewpoints comes from the Conway family. Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s longest-serving White House aides and most fervent supporters, has faced much media scrutiny for her family’s political views. For quite some time, this coverage focused on her husband George, a Republican lawyer who has openly written and spoken against Trump. Mr. Conway even went so far as to spearhead the Lincoln Project, a movement by former Republicans to ensure that Trump does not get reelected.
The dichotomy between the Conways’ political views is striking, yet pales in comparison to the split between them and their 15-year-old daughter, Claudia. She took the internet by storm in June when she went viral on TikTok, speaking out against racial discrimination, criticizing and denouncing Trump, and expressing leftist ideas. This was much to her parents’ dismay, as she claims that her mother had her arrested for making “false allegations” against both Trump and her parents’ careers and political views. Now, with 1.4 million followers on TikTok and almost 600,000 on Twitter, Ms. Conway has become an incredibly prominent (if wildly controversial) activist for Gen-Z.
Despite this influence, however, she is not yet of voting age and has taken multiple hiatuses from social media due to the scrutiny she has received from news outlets, as well as her own parents’ disciplinary attempts. Claudia Conway’s various social media accounts, in fact, caused so much negative media attention for the Conways—especially when she declared she wanted to pursue emancipation—that both Kellyanne and George Conway announced they would be stepping down from the White House and Lincoln Project, respectively, to focus on their family. This did not keep Claudia Conway, or her parents, out of the social media spotlight, as she later went on to announce to the world on TikTok that her mother had tested positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, in light of the news of Biden’s victory, Claudia Conway’s social media content has calmed down, or perhaps the Conways’ familial tensions are just less publicized—for now.
Caroline Giuliani—a 31-year-old writer and filmmaker in the LGBTQ+ community and the daughter of attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani—has also spoken out against her father’s support for Trump, yet in a much less sensational way. In an essay for Vanity Fair, Caroline implored Americans to vote Trump’s “toxic administration” out of office by pledging her support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Caroline Giuliani discusses the progression of her relationship with her father, noting that while her childhood was filled with privilege and real-world lessons, she has a fraught relationship with politics as a result of being politically “multiverses apart” from her father. While Caroline has spent much of her life separating herself from the imposed identity of her last name, she believed that the stakes were “too high” to stay silent leading up to the 2020 election.
“Trump and his enablers have used his presidency to stoke the injustice that already permeated our society, taking it to dramatically new, Bond-villain heights,” Giuliani writes. “I hope that you’ll believe me when I say that another Trump term…will irrevocably harm the LGBTQ+ community, among others…Women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people of color are all also under attack by Trump’s inhumane policies…Faced with preventable deaths during a pandemic that Trump downplayed and ignored, rhetoric that has fed deep-seated, systemic racism, and chaos in the White House, it’s no surprise that so many Americans feel as hopeless and overwhelmed as I did growing up…If being the daughter of a polarizing mayor who became the president’s personal bulldog has taught me anything, it is that corruption starts with ‘yes-men’ and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power.”
The way in which Giuliani speaks out against her father, while pained and pleading, serves as a reminder to younger voters that standing in the face of such toxicity, oppression, and bigotry is necessary to keep the country from slipping off a cliff’s edge. Although differing drastically in both age and maturity, Conway and Giuliani represent this greater notion of choosing country over party, even if that means putting strains on familial relations. Perhaps those who are afraid to have their voices heard can gain a little courage from these two young women.