WASHINGTON — In some ways, President Donald Trump has brought Tammy Kennedy and her daughter, Sue Ann, together on politics.
They don’t agree on every issue Tammy supports abortion rights, for example, while Sue Ann opposes them. Even so, the two agree on most issues and disapprove of the way Trump is doing his job.
“I think we’ve talked about him in terms of immigration,” said Tammy, 51, of Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration that has resulted in the separation of some parents and children at the borders. “I can’t imagine my child being ripped away from me.”
“We do agree on his performance,” Sue Ann, 18, said.
They’re part of a majority of American young people and their parents who disapprove of the job the president is doing, a poll shows. The survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV found that 57 per cent of parents and 73 per cent of young people ages 15 to 26 disapprove of the president’s performance.
The common ground doesn’t end there. The generations also agree that politics have become dysfunctional, and both say they’re dissatisfied with the two-party system.
On issues broadly, a 55 per cent majority of young people and their parents say they usually see eye to eye, and 31 per cent say they debate things diplomatically. Just 9 per cent say they avoid talking politics, and only 5 per cent say their debates turn into “World War III.”
And most say they agree with each other on a wide variety of individual issues, including feelings on the economy, health care, immigration, racism and abortion.
Still, hotheadedness abounds over politics, as anyone who has access to the internet knows. The survey showed that online, especially, politics seeps into interactions with extended family members. Twenty per cent of young people and their parents say they have done the virtual equivalent of uninviting a family member ‚Äî by blocking them or unfriending them ‚Äî because of a disagreement over politics. An equal percentage of both generations say they have been blocked or unfriended.
Mackenzi Curtis, 22, said she stopped following one older family member, who’s in his 60s, on Facebook over his posts about the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Several students became gun control advocates after a gunman killed 17 people on Feb. 14.
“I was thinking they’re pretty much bullying a teenager that’s been through a traumatic experience,” Curtis, a mother of two in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said. “I think it has a lot to do with the difference in generations.”
Eleven per cent of respondents say they have had a holiday gathering ruined over politics, while about an equal percentage say they’ve decided not to attend a family event for the same reason. Seventeen per cent say political disagreements inspired a relative to skip a family event.
The two generations are equally likely to engage on social media on the Nov. 6 elections, the study found. A quarter of parents and young people say they’ll post or comment on the midterms, and similar percentages say they share memes about the races. That’s a key data point for the campaigns trying to rev up and drive voters to the polls.
By any measure, Trump revolutionized Twitter as a political instrument before his 2016 upset over Democrat Hillary Clinton and during his presidency. Ahead of the 2018 midterms, both parties are leveraging the power of social media, engagement and relationships as Republicans defend their congressional majorities and Democrats try to topple them.
Among parents and young people who say they aren’t of the same mind, young people say they tend to disagree with their parents most about racism, while their parents say the largest area of disagreement is gun control. Both generations tend to point to Trump and LGBT rights as sources of contention.
The generations say it can be hard to sway the other generation when differences exist, but not necessarily impossible.
Few young people and parents ‚Äî only 11 per cent overall ‚Äî say they are always able to persuade each other to change his or her views, but another 53 per cent say they can sometimes do it. Just 6 per cent say they can always be persuaded, but 44 per cent say they sometimes can be.
Larry Kapenstein, a 64-year-old retired postal worker in Middletown, Pennsylvania, said Trump most recently displeased his family by uninviting the Philadelphia Eagles ‚Äî this year’s Super Bowl champions ‚Äî to the White House. But while they agree on Trump, Kapenstein said one of his children can be hard to convince on taxes. He’s coming to terms with where chunks of his paycheque go. And that can lead to the question of who’s to blame for that.
Hint: Voters and the politicians they elect.
“He just doesn’t understand why we have to pay taxes,” Kapenstein said. “He’s just getting into the working world, but he just doesn’t get it.”