For a while now I’ve been writing about how it feels to be caught in that place where people you love are Trump devotees and you need to figure out how to coexist. With each passing day, month, year, it gets harder.
I see you. I follow your stories. I empathize. I’ve even heard from some of you.
It’s often complicated by the fact that some Democrats and others who don’t personally experience this divide tend to paint all Trump supporters with a broad brush. Because the spectrum runs from the masked white supremacists who were recently marching in Washington, D.C. to the clueless neighbor who still thinks the former president is a successful businessman and all-around great guy, we’ve widened our chasm.
As we approach the end of 2021, I’ve reached a new phase. I hope maybe it crystalizes something for others.
I’m way past the cheery ‘how to survive the holidays’ guides, the ‘quest for common ground’ do-gooders, the memes reducing this to a difference in politics (when it’s actually a vast divergence of values), and every other darned well-intentioned attempt to keep the peace.
I’m done with all of it.
We’ve reached a place where there are people in our lives we treasure enough to stay in relationship with. But, and this is a big but, we have no interest in engaging on current events because we sincerely don’t value what they have to say on them. There is no point. I mean this earnestly. It’s not coming from a place of malice.
The way I see it, there’s only one way to keep these relationships and I’m going to shout it – STAY OFF THE TOPIC.
Because this is the deal. If I’ve been turned off by your views for over four years now (I’m well aware that goes the other way, too), I have no interest in your views on anything in this realm. Therefore, I am not remotely tempted to bring up these topics in your presence. I have no reason to. I am secure in who I am and what I believe. I know the difference between fact and opinion and have a sound gauge on who else does.
Should I someday appear before my maker, I have peace around looking her in the eye and saying, I did what you sent me to do: Write, write, and write some more. Express freely with passion and sometimes an activist bent. I’ve been doing it for over 30 years now and my enthusiasm for it is only escalating.
I’ll be blunt. If you’re a Trump supporter and have a need to discuss something in the news cycle, dial another number. Mine is off limits. Unfriend me on Facebook. Drop me on Twitter. Do it. This doesn’t mean I don’t want you in my life. I may. I just don’t want to hear your take on current affairs. Why in the world would you want to hear mine at this point?
I realize this avoidance idea often isn’t easy to execute. I recently mentioned being excited about seeing To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway at the end of this month and had to sit through a reaction that included how the woke libs ruined it. I listened silently rather than make it a thing. But it stuck with me and chipped away further at the divide. Good lord.
The proper response, by the way? “Oh, sounds like you’re really looking forward to the show. Enjoy!”
Ever been in a room full of Trump supporters who sincerely ask what’s new in your life and you have to search your brain for something acceptable to say since what you’re most psyched about would start a disagreement? I have. It’s challenging.
Let me be clear. I used to think dialogue was possible. We’ve reached another level now. Once respect of facts went out the window, some of us, consciously or not, decided to just shelve that whole notion of real discourse in the presence of some we love. If a person’s entire viewpoint is now predicated on an election lie that has and continues to stoke violence and division, why engage it?
Our democracy is teetering. I’m for keeping my country from going into authoritarianism.
This is the time to dig in and get more entrenched in my values and work as hard as I can to express, illuminate, and make a difference. I am proud of my body of work and feel most alive when I’m adding to it.
If I want you in my life, you’re in it. It means I have forged a relationship despite the occasional landmines and discomforts.
This is real loyalty. The test is not whether I agree or keep my mouth shut. It’s that I keep engaging you and loving you despite a topsy turvy world we couldn’t have imagined just 10 years ago.
I’ve kept you in my life. Only you can decide if you want me in yours.