I am bleary-eyed from reading so many articles about the aftermath of last week’s elections. My quick takeaway is that many sturdy trees have given up their lives. And yet, as is always true about the future, everything we say today is speculation.
Uncertainty always exists but in this case today uncertainty is on steroids. I am supposed to give a speech about the economy on Thursday. What could I possibly say that wouldn’t be completely wrong in two weeks? Bartender, one JD on the rocks for my friend Lauren please.
Then I got a text from a very good friend who I won’t name to protect his reputation. This dear friend noted to me how so many of his friends were having fights with their colleagues and families. It reminded me of when I was a young guy during the Vietnam War days. Families were splitting apart. The nation was coming apart. Then my dear friend said that he was so happy that despite our political differences we could continue to be civil and friendly to each other.
Of course, that was like a love arrow piercing my heart. How nice that someone who disagrees with much of what I write could extend a kindness at a time when many of his other friends and colleagues were no less than Vlad the Impaler driving stakes through the hearts of their friends!
So it made me think. How many political conversations held before election day went nowhere because one or both of the participants began with an insult. I am not accusing the left or the right because the same behavior was observed for both. The tenor of the situation was an accusation that the person at the other end of the conversation was either evil or stupid for saying even one good thing about a particular politician. How can two people have a conversation if at least one of those persons starts off by saying the other one is either stupid, immoral, or a bootlicker? How?
Is the hair standing up on the back of your neck? Of course – Trump is the devil. He hates blacks, Hispanics, foreigners, gays, and so on. Of course – Hillary is corrupt and a liar to boot. How could a human being from plant Earth say even one good thing about either of these people?
Good question Larry! But the truth is that if you think that way you have been duped by politicians. There is more than one side to these two politicians. I know they are lousy – both of them. But you people who bought into these extreme caricatures of Trump and Clinton got duped. Nothing is that simple.
Am I saying you have to do back flips for Trump? Not at all. You can fight him tooth and nail on every policy he advocates. What I am saying is that it is not worth demeaning your friends and your friendships over politics. Think about the proportionality. Every morning you wake up and you kiss the dog and pet your wife. You go to work and interact closely with colleagues. You have beers with your buddies. That's your real life. Then you turn on your favorite channel and watch the so-called news. Or you read the newspaper or check your favorite website. And then your blood pressure rises and you start cursing like a sailor.
It is true that a new President will impact the lives of many people – maybe even you. But it is also true that the impact on society is a lot less on you than what happens when you ruin your relationship with your mother or your best friend or your boss. And for what?
“For what?” is the real question. Recall Mr Obama passing Obamacare without a single Republican vote. Recall him making numerous regulatory changes without help from Congress. I was opposed to many of those things. But I didn’t jeopardize my friendships by calling friends and family idiots. After all, they have been in my family or been friends for a long time. We have disagreed many times. But I never dismissed them with the easy phrase like “you must be an idiot to support Obama.”
Now the shoe is on the other foot. Actually I am not sure what foot the shoe is on because Trump does not fit into any easy category. But surely as soon as he gets rolling you are going to hate some of the changes he pushes. Maybe you will be surprised and like some of it. Maybe you won't. When you don’t agree you can oppose them with vigor but at least have the decency to respect those who don’t agree with you. The world is a complicated place. Your friends and family have a right to their own opinions. Try to change their minds if you want. But don’t dismiss them simply because they disagree with you. You can always replace your old friends with new ones who will always agree with you. But that sounds pretty boring and sad to me.