Linda, a 51-year-old business owner from San Antonio, was raised in a home of “hardcore conservatives and hardcore Christians.” Her mother was a player in Republican politics statewide. Her parents died years before former President Donald Trump came along and remade the Republican Party in his image, but she still grew up immersed in Republican red.
Linda, who prefers to use only her first name for privacy reasons, has moved away from politics and religion in her hometown. While she avoids political labels, she definitely sympathizes with the more progressive currents of American politics and culture these days.
This caused conflict with her sister, who did not vote for Trump but still harbors right-wing sentiments.
“She says things like ‘All Lives Matter,’ which is confusing because, like me, she has biracial kids,” Linda said. “She would say, ‘Why isn’t there a White Her History Her Month?’ I wonder how she could say that and still support her son?”
Then there’s her sister’s comment about her wealthy friend — they vote for Trump because, “They don’t like socialism, so they work hard for their money and don’t pay more taxes.” Because you don’t have to pay.”
All of that clenched Linda’s teeth.
She’s hardly alone. As historians look back on this cultural era in America, there is no doubt that one of the most tragic features of America, if it ever was, was the way so many family relationship structures were torn apart by politics. There is none.
There is a cornucopia of potential landmines: COVID-19 and vaccines, immigration, abortion, gun laws, climate change, gay rights, police brutality, what should be taught in schools, and more. The persistent false allegation that the 2020 presidential election was stolen mixes with the latest addition to the seemingly endless Trump show, the search for Mar-a-Lago and the discovery of classified documents.
Layer the thick stew of ever-evolving conspiracy theories, the QAnon quagmire, and the tendency of us all to retreat into our respective media echo chambers.
The gap between red and blue America over what it means to be a patriotic citizen has widened to the chasm, taking too much of the affectionate (or at least civil) relationship until then.
A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 8 in 10 Republicans believe the Democratic Party has been hijacked by socialists, and nearly 8 in 10 Democrats believe the other side is racist. I think it’s been hijacked by ideologists.
Nearly 80% of Americans now have “few or no friends” in politics, according to the Pew Research Center.
As the country gathers momentum in the run-up to November’s midterm elections and pours gasoline on an already burning situation, renewed anger is guaranteed to emerge in the coming weeks and months, and it will only deepen. is a discord.
Anger emanates from both sides of the aisle.
Last winter, Republican and landscape designer Mike Logsdon, 62, who lives in Boerne, discussed COVID-19 and the need for vaccination with a female friend.
Mike and his wife Nancy reluctantly got the vaccine and were able to travel to Israel. However, he told a friend that his daughter decided to opt out because he was worried the vaccine would impair his chances of conceiving. (Although it may cause illness, it also does not cause an increase in miscarriages.)
Logsdon said a friend called his daughter – and her own children — idiots for not being vaccinated, prefixing words with salty curse words.
“I said to her, ‘Why are you spitting this poison on me?'” he said. “It looks like her head is twisted.”
Logsdon voted for Trump twice and said “it was the only option for me”, adding that he is not a “Trump fanatic” but believes the former president “did a good thing”. On the other hand, a friend he has clashed with is a “Trump despise.”
A conservative Christian, Logsdon says, “I can’t raise him in the slightest.” “She listens to her CNN, which is a Democratic news station, and I listen to her FOX, which is a Republican news station, and her OAN network.”
And, apparently, the two never meet. Since then, he and his friends have not spoken to each other.
No one knows how many relationships have deteriorated in recent years in families across the country: temporary estrangements, unspoken tensions, and overt disconnects.
Fighting has invaded my own family.
My sister is a Christian evangelical who has fallen prey to various internet conspiracies that see the COVID-19 vaccine as a hoax, and has outlier doctors on the web rather than trusted agencies like the CDC or the American Medical Association. placed in She traveled down her QAnon rabbit hole including #savethechildren. This is a despicable conspiracy theory that claims the liberal elite are the children (worse) of sex trafficking.
In an email, she made it clear that she no longer believed in the “mainstream media” in which I worked for over 30 years. (She paradoxically stated that she always thought my job was legal. Hmm. )
I tried to surf these miserable waves as calmly as I could, but when she texted me early in the COVID-19 wave that she got hydroxychloroquine, I stepped in. She was eager to provide medicine for our uninfected 94-year-old mother in a nursing home.
I blew up I got her medical power of attorney and texted that I was going to do everything I could to stop her.(I did.) Our text exchange got even more intense and she She said she disowned me as a sister.
Our estrangement lasted several months and finally ended when she learned that my husband had experienced a serious (but ultimately successfully resolved) health crisis. We seem to have managed an uneasy truce over political and cultural issues.
No one knows how long this rattling tacit treaty will last. How can you stay true to your beliefs while maintaining peace in your family and bonds of friendship?
With the holiday season fast approaching (and before you know it, it’s Thanksgiving), how do you balance the desire to open someone’s eyes to the truth with the desire to keep them in your life? At a moment when algorithms, factions, and opt-in news feeds seem to divide people into two different realities, the two sets of facts that make up the truth, the bones, if not impossible, It is work that breaks.
Of all the bile, many of us have reduced the other side to a caricature. Those who voted for Trump are massively pinned down as Nazis, racists, misogynists, or gayphobes. Democrats, in turn, are called baby killers, pedophile groomers, or rank socialists.
During the recent primaries, many Republican candidates went so far as to say that they were not just misguided, just wrong, but blatantly portraying Democrats. Evil. I have heard similar impulses in the air from left-wing forces. Indeed, I have given myself up to this temptation.
One thing I know to be true is that when you identify your opponent as evil, subhuman, all hope for meaningful dialogue vanishes.
Experts offer helpful tips on how to lower the temperature of toxic conversations. Be humble. Be curious, not defensive. ask a question. listen. Keep your expectations low. Seek common ground. Aim for the heart as well as the head. Facts matter, but human experience matters more. Do not discuss over text, email or other social media. People say things online that they would never say in person.
Or you can agree not to talk politics.
Sam, a self-described non-binary descendant of mine who voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016, says silence is no longer an option. I am reminded of the great words of Desmond Tutu.
Of course, I think people on either side can bend this quote to their own use.
Business owner Linda sometimes tells herself and her sister that it’s okay to agree to disagree and just let it be. Other times, she has to speak up regardless of the outcome.
“I love my sister, but I feel like I need to draw a line in the sand when it comes to some of these issues.” is.”
When it comes to this writer, I’m sure I won’t change my sister’s beliefs, and I’m sure she won’t change mine.
But peace can still come in baby steps. When she had her birthday last June, I baked her a cake.