Politics came up and hit me in the face today, or maybe it wasn’t so much politics as a whole way of looking at life. I lunched with a woman I’ve known for over fifty years. Younger, we were close, but our lives took us in different directions. Still the bond was there, and we get together every occasionally.
To give her credit, she did not bring up politics. I did. We were talking about my books, and I mentioned that Pigface and the Perfect Dog is in part about open-carry (weapons, not alcohol), and she said she could see how that could offend some people. I know she’s conservative, so I figured she supports the NRA. Should have kept my mouth shut, but I said these days it’s crucial to speak out about our beliefs. If people turn away from my books because I’m a progressive, so be it. One thing led to another, and she said she thinks Trump is doing all the right things.
I was appalled. Speechless. My stereotype of Trump supporters is an uneducated man in a gimme cap or woman with bleached blonde hair, both wearing tight T-shirts with obscene slogans, probably the F-bomb. Here she was—someone I’ve known almost all my adult life, grey-haired, well-dressed, educated, a grandmother (we share grandkids stories a lot—safe ground for us). I managed to ask how she, a good Christian (she and her husband are active in a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian congregation) could support a man who is a proven philanderer and liar. She shrugged and said, “He’s all we have right now.” I wanted to scream that no, he’s not. She explained, “I don’t believe America can support the whole world.” I swallowed what I thought—in this global world, how can we not? We’re past the age where isolationism will work.
Finally, I said, “It’s hard for me. I feel so passionately about it,” and she replied, “It’s hard for me that you feel so passionately about it.” We were at a stalemate, and eventually as gracefully as I could manage I steered the conversation in other directions. But that lunch has shaken me to my core. My heart and head are full of things I want to say—about love and compassion, about caring for others, about the dangers of isolationism, destruction of the environment, nuclear threats, about tearing apart people’s lives and robbing them of medical care. Fortunately I remembered Mark Cuban’s words (of all people, since I’m not a sports fan) to forget about converting Trumpers and aim your concern at the lethargic people who didn’t vote.
Still, when my daughter asked how lunch was, all I could say was, “It was difficult.”
On a brighter note, some authors will do anything to get into print. My letter to the editor was in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram today. It was—as you may have guessed—in support of a progressive topic: the protection of Dreamers, and the verbal support Texas Senator John Cornyn has given them so far. I want to see him put those words into action now that the Senate is debating the immigration issue. No, I’m not too hopeful.
Guess I’ll have a glass of wine, eat some good leftovers, and read a good book. And maybe write a conciliatory email. It’s the progressive thing to do. Happy Fat Tuesday folks. Eat all those pancakes!