I know. Hear me out.
In this day and age, political divides are more than just that. Under the Trump administration, the divide between liberalism and conservatism is easily the biggest we have ever seen. It has come to the point where people will sacrifice friendships and relationships over supporting a certain candidate.
I’m not saying it’s easy maintain friendships with people that you disagree on just about everything with, and I think a lot of the time friendships fall apart because of dissimilarity anyway, not just politics-related quarrels. However, when you see your roommate‘s ex-boyfriend post a “MAGA 2020” (or KAGA now?), I encourage you to stop and think before you hit that unfollow button.
There is the phrase, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” In an ironic way, I think that saying is really important right now. If you only surround yourself with people who think exactly the way you do, how are you doing anything that challenging your own beliefs? And how do you expect political discourse to come about when you’re only preaching to a mirror of your own political identity?
I am not saying that you are going to change the mind of a Trump supporter.
I am also not saying that Trump supporters are exempt from this conversation either. They should also be aware of the opinions of their political adversaries. I am not saying that any of this will guarantee that we bridge the gap between the two parties. But it is a start.
We need to start somewhere in restoring American democracy. Politics and democracy in this country used to be dictated by the push and pull between the two parties. These days, they are simply pulling further and further apart. Having ongoing conversations with people you do not agree with is foundational to restoring some sort of empathy to politics. You need to understand how the other side thinks. We cannot progress any longer with vehement spats of “They are stupid” or “That’s uneducated” toward the other side. We need to see the ways in how we got here and try to get ourselves out of this political cavern we have dug for ourselves as a nation.
So, keep following your Trump supporter colleagues, or friends of friends or that one person you met at that music festival. And when you want to scream or pull your hair out at seeing one of their posts, you can, just do not do it at them. We need to bring conversations back into politics. No more silent treatments for political differences.