I had an interesting last few days. I spent Sunday through Wednesday in a cabin in Boone, NC steeped in art, laughter, love, and Trump-voters. I know. You didn’t see that last one coming, did you? Well, maybe you did because of the title. Should’ve thought that one through better.
Every year, S and I rent a cabin for a couple nights in November to get away from life. We explore the local towns and woods, drink too many chai lattes, soak in a hot tub, watch bad TV, and I do some plein air painting. This year, we invited 2 couples to come with us. The one pair are a couple northerners who now reside in Raleigh and who we’ve known for about 5 years now. They are also black. He’s an ex-cop turned real estate agent. She’s an ex-correctional officer turned stay-at-home mom. We do Thanksgiving with their extended family every year. The other couple are new to each other – as in, they were just married last year – but we’ve known the husband for about 10 years or so. They live in FL, though he’s originally from South Africa. Yes, he has a fantastic accent. And they’re all Republicans. And they’re my friends. And I love them.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I’m pretty damn liberal. I voted for Bernie in the primary and Hilary in the general election. I am torn up about the thought of Trump being our next president. It literally makes me sick to my stomach when I think about it too long – and I don’t mean “literally” in the new millennial way that really means “figuratively.” So I was nervous going into this getaway. I decided I was not going to bring up politics.
Yeah, right. Like I could help myself. But here’s the thing, y’all. We need to be talking about this shit. Together. With people who don’t agree with us. If we’re in an echo chamber of people who think exclusively like us, things will get worse. And less productive. And more violent. We’ll all just be more broken. When Obama was elected and the Republican establishment chose to make their party platform the goal of not letting him accomplish a single thing – even if it would normally have gotten bipartisan support – that helped no one. The gridlock became overwhelming. We cannot respond the same way. So, if there’s any hope for our country, we need to talk with each other, not at each other. And so my friends and I did. They talked about why they voted for Trump – the economy and their distrust of Hillary. I listened. I countered with my own views and tried to explain why people were protesting and why we’re so devastated. When one of them said that Fox News wasn’t biased, I did my best not to slit my wrists, realizing that he’s in his own echo chamber. Instead, I proposed that, for two weeks, he would watch The Daily Show and listen to NPR, and in exchange, I would watch Fox News and listen to Rush Limbaugh.
I started by watching Hannity last night and just Fox News in general this morning. It’s already not going well. I may end up bald at the end of this. But I’m going to continue. I want to understand the world view which will have control for at least the next four years. If we don’t understand it, we can’t effectively manage it or mitigate its negative effects. We must not meet hate with hate. Am I still appalled and livid and utterly disheartened that a racist, sexist bully won? Yes. A thousand times yes. But it’s done. Now we have to figure out how to make it better.
So I’m going to keep trying to understand, while at the same time trying to make my Trump-voting friends understand my fears. They’re not stupid or cruel people, but they’re not hearing my viewpoint being given to them in a respectful manner (perhaps because we’re so shocked at Trump’s hate speech that we’ve felt the need to shout back). Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and work on this democracy to make it a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous place. We’ll stand up against the hate that won the day, but we can’t add our own to it.