Politics

7 Ways To Spot A Closet Conservative, From Their Breakfast Fixes To Movie Fandoms

We believe in science, hence this wildly unscientific analysis.

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Look, maybe you come from a family that just “doesn’t talk politics.” Maybe whenever you bring up, say, the man at the helm of our country during a pandemic, someone shouts, “The weather has been very warm lately!” Conversation diverted. Maybe you don't know how they voted in 2016. Honestly, that’s remarkable. You might be last person in America who doesn’t know the political views of everyone in their social circle and, consequently, is not fighting about them.

However, pollsters suspect that part of the reason that 2016’s pre-election polling erroneously favored Hillary Clinton was due to closeted voters for President Trump — people who kept their votes a secret, didn’t respond to survey requests, and used their ballots as conservative confessionals. For the sake of righting those prediction wrongs, we need voters to be transparent. Worried someone you love falls into this camp? Pay attention to:

1
What They’re Having For Breakfast

You had, maybe, five pancake breakfasts growing up? Mostly you all just ate cereal and then rushed to school. But now your dad's sending pictures of his elaborate pancake and waffle displays, with a special focus on Aunt Jemima syrup. Sometimes it’s just close-ups on a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s. He keeps captioning the pictures, “The American Dream,” or, “The thing I love more than anything in the world.” God willing he’s just really into his new waffle maker and not bizarrely attached to racist symbolism on syrup products, because that would be crazy.

2
Their Changing Job Titles

Your brother-in-law is inexplicably mad at statues being torn down in other cities. When you ask why he’s posting angry faces on Facebook next to every article, and whether he’s actually visited those towns, he claims it’s just because he’s a “statuary expert/avid historian.” You remind him that the Confederacy only existed for four years, half the length of Mad Men's television run. Should Don Draper get a statue? He's also considered a pretty bad guy, despite the show revolutionizing prestige TV. He rolls his eyes.

3
What Movies They’re Watching

So, your cousin mostly watches Dancing With the Stars, but now, according to the family group chat, she’s intent on purchasing HBO Max. She claims it’s because of their terrific collection of old, hard-to-come-by films. So far, she’s only mentioned Gone With the Wind. You suspect that if she watches it, she’d hate it. In addition to really overlooking the horrors of slavery, it’s three hours long. But then again, much like DWTS, it’s full of billowing, overdone attire and miraculously depoliticizes the very political — so maybe it’s on brand.

4
Their Understanding Of Ancestry

Your sister claims that the reason she’s upset about Confederate flags being removed is because of “our heritage.” “But our family is Irish,” you inform her, reminding her of her “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirt, which resurfaces every March 17. “All our ancestors were in Ireland during the four years the Confederacy existed. It has absolutely nothing to do with us.” She pauses before responding. “I am…” she replies, “a citizen of the world.” The world, and seemingly all possible timelines.

5
Which Tech Billionaire They Prefer

As both an iPhone and Microsoft Word devotee, your roommate has always mixed-and-matched his tech loyalties. Yesterday, he stood up from his computer and announced, “Bill Gates is a fool.” Now, it could be that Microsoft Word is being weird again, but he’s also started talking about how great Steve Jobs was. Forty percent of Fox News viewers believe that Bill Gates wants to use a coronavirus vaccine to inject them with microchips for global surveillance, but that’s a wild conspiracy theory. Your roommate's just a regular guy. Regardless, it’s probably worth mentioning that iPhones have tracking capabilities.

6
Whether They Wear Masks

Your aunt claims it’s not political! She just thinks this pandemic, which has killed more than 134,000 Americans, is being blown out of proportion. She lives in rural Michigan and can make decisions for herself. “But why on earth won’t you wear one?” you’ve texted her, along with a very cute picture of your dog. "Because the government can't control my body," she responds. A few days later, she texts a photo of her new pro-life yard sign, unironically.

7
Why They Love Martin Luther King Jr.

Your folks agree that the Black Lives Matter protesters are being very loud. “If only they’d be more civil,” your mom laments. They like how Martin Luther King Jr. protested. “He wore a suit!” You note that white people shot him anyway, so maybe his suit was not enough to stop racism. Your parents agree it would be better if the protesters were more agreeable, or somehow silent. Inexplicably, they found Colin Kaepernick “very disrespectful.”