Us vs Them: How To Stay Friends While Trump is On Top

I'm a left-leaning immigrant who has recently graduated from UC Berkeley. And, to the surprise of many, I now live harmoniously with a Trump supporter. I know; everyone makes that face when I tell them. But it's actually not as heart wrenching as you may imagine. For either of us. In fact, there's been some really eye opening and faith-in-humanity-restoring moments so far. I'd like to share our story of enduring friendship in this new political age for a few different reasons. Firstly, to give hope to the future of our society as we seemingly watch a social cavern open up between us. Secondly, to encourage readers to give real human connection a chance instead of relying on preconceived assumptions fed to us over breakfast by the news media. And lastly, to simply pay homage to my right wing friend, who, although he's supposed to be just some heartless fascist Trump nut, is actually one of the best people I know.

True to my Fox News caricature, my degree is in Anthropology, I practice yoga in my spare time, and on the DL I kinda love hugging trees. However, unbeknownst to Hannity and the like, I'm also fiscally republican, I actively dislike Clinton, and my other half is a US Marine from Georgia. I attended Berkeley during the heated 2016 elections starring Trump and Hillary, throughout the protests-turned-violent riots over far-right speakers Ann Coulter and Milo Yianopolous. And I was there, drinking heavily and crying silently, when the 45th President of the United States was announced. Holding up his end of the bargain, our resident Trump Fan Danny is a former United States Marine with a fairly serious Tom Brady addiction. He's from Charlestown, Boston (oh, the accent), and splits his time between fighting fires and raising four kids. Yet in a time polarized by viscous political rhetoric that seeps into almost every aspect of our daily lives, we manage to share a kitchen, a back yard grill, and yes, even a TV. Occasionally, we'll even share a quip about the news.

We've been friends for many years, before political stance was a prerequisite for maintaining a friendship. Along with our other halves, we used to spend countless nights out in beautiful Southern California beach towns, drinking and singing uncalled-for karaoke together. We played Cards Against Humanity and they cooked us dinner while we talked about our completely different upbringings. We got to know what the other stood for, and how they had gotten to be whom they were. We eventually got to know each other's families, and we became family to each other. Danny and his wife later moved back to his hometown, and we moved to the Bay Area. And as it tends to, change happened without any of us noticing.

During the Fall of 2016 I enrolled in a class taught by the most incredible professor I'd ever heard. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, his lectures on African American history chiseled away at my mind and remodeled me completely. He gave impassioned and deeply painful talks that changed my worldview. I often had to spend time after lectures sitting alone by the campus river, mulling over some really good weed, just contemplating the depth of what he had told me. That same professor consoled us all on November 10th, after a full day of shock had still not seemed like enough to digest our new political place. I helped make protest signs, and I live-streamed the discussions that the liberal students had on Sproul Plaza with the members of the Republican Club. I was really in it. And I was really, really concerned. Although I might take a stance against abortion, I suddenly realized that I was considered a liberal immigrant. Everything had changed.

Danny, on the other hand, didn't live anywhere near my 2016. He didn't hear the discussions or the lectures that I heard. He didn't see the armed police occupation of campus following heated conversations that I saw. Danny had always lived in a very different world to me. Intentionally on my part, we kept in touch often during this time. I texted him during lectures to ask his opinion on issues we were debating. I'd press him further for a reason behind his belief system. Why did it make sense to him? What had he been through that made that absurd belief his reality? I'd then raise my hand in class and use Danny's commentary to introduce dialogue about what a Trump Fan may be thinking. I wanted to understand why these newly founded 'others' thought so differently to me. (Anthropological Hint: it's probably because they've lived their lives in a different world to mine.) I eventually took a trip to visit my friend on the east coast, and I asked him a series of questions about his beliefs on society, race, and the police. I disagreed with most of the things he said. But my aim wasn't to conclude whether we agreed or not. I knew we didn't. And it wasn't to judge his stance either. Like any good anthropological experiment, our conversations were an attempt to understand the other's outlook on life.

During our continued conversations, I began to understand how Danny had come to his political and social conclusions, given the reality in which he had existed. It actually made perfect sense to believe what he did about the kind of person that should be President. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't simply nod along to what he said. I gave my point of view when he asked for it. But for me, focusing on the goal of comprehension helped me to put aside the burning need to convince. I was aware that he couldn't hold my same beliefs, because he had not experienced the same world as I had. It would be unfair to expect him to be anyone else, given where he's come from. I had stayed in his childhood home, where I came to understand whom he had (and had not) been exposed to in his childhood. I heard stories about times he was wronged, so I could understand why he held the biases he did. I listened to his description of some of what he had seen and experienced in combat, so I could understand why he thought the way he did about human rights. It made complete sense that his reality aligned further right than my own.

When we relocated to Boston last month, Danny and his wife immediately offered us a place to stay while we got settled in. Stripped away of his CNN-assigned political identity, he remained the generous and kind friend I'd first gotten to know. At first, we didn't mention politics at all. Things had gotten a lot crazier in the White House than it was during my previous visit. But soon enough, and admittedly to my surprise, Danny began to ask me questions about my time at Berkeley. He inquired as to whether or not the Fox News interpretation of events had been an accurate representation of my time there. He knew me, and he knew I wasn't the kind of person to start riots over disagreed upon beliefs. We launched into a conversation about how the portrayal of every group, no matter what 'side' they're meant to be on, has to be newsworthy to get on TV. It has to grab our short-spanned attention. It has to conform to the narrative we're being told about the opposition. "No," I told him, "most days were filled with intellectual conversation and philosophical ponderings over how we got here. Berkeley is full of very smart people; we're not exactly running out of words and just going in to battle." I explained to him that we were in fact pounced upon by Anti-Fa, the violent far left group, who had used our peaceful protests as a stage on which to gain media attention for their own message. Because guess what's more interesting than news coverage of peaceful debates? Guess what confirms preconceived ideas about the left? Violence on the Berkeley campus. Edited to avoid the fact that it was rare and externally led. We discussed how, as a first responder, he though police have the same issue with their TV representation- they are often only shown on the news when one person wearing their uniform does something negative. It's not representative of the entire force and their way of dealing with things. But dammit it makes for some great primetime tweets.

As a civilization, we are being strongly led to believe that there is a 'them', and there is an 'us'. We're being told every day that all those people over there, they think and act as one. They all agree with everything Trump says and stands for. They all hate us. And we all hate them. But as critical thinkers, we can decide to question the dramatic narratives our dominant media sources are having us mainline each day. We can choose to think about the systematic grouping of all Americans into one of two available categories. Do we know of extreme versions of these parodies that fit into those polarized boxes? Maybe. Does everyone fit the bill? Absolutely not. More and more people are starting to sway in their full support for the Trump administration as more and more information about its true identity is revealed. We know that much of the rhetoric that exists about us as individuals that is coming from the opposition is false. And we may even know, deep down, that the rhetoric we hear about the opposition may not always be true either. So ask questions. See what your estranged loved ones actually believe. If it is what you assumed, try to be curious. Ask them why they believe it. Ask them why again. Keep asking why until you can genuinely understand their experiences and their fears. There's really only one way to find out if the way they see the world is as extreme as we're being told it is. Ask.

For us, our friendship has never rested upon the knowledge that we are from the same stock. But its continuation is based upon our acceptance of the others life experience. I have an unrelenting desire to learn from anyone oppositional, to know the holistic scope of the human experience. And I try to remember that before we cared much about our friends' political views, before we knew where their ignorance lay, we knew what kind of heart they had.

Contributing Editor: Melanie 'Brit' Smith

Melanie 'Brit' Smith is a freelance research writer and swim coach who has recently moved from CA to MA. Hailing from South London, England, Brit has spent her adult live living, traveling, and studying the different cultures of the United States. Read more of her writing at medium.com/@britblueeyes

30 Comments

  • Pingback: DMPK
  • Pingback: scr888
  • Pingback: Stix Events
  • Pingback: graphxdiva.com
  • Pingback: الانسانية ديالى
  • Pingback: empresas informática
  • Pingback: iq iq Aws Alkhazraji
  • lebron 14
    Posted January 1, 2018 2:30 am 0Likes

    I wish to show appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this type of scenario. Just after exploring through the world wide web and getting notions that were not beneficial, I was thinking my life was gone. Being alive without the presence of answers to the issues you’ve sorted out by way of your post is a crucial case, and those that could have in a wrong way affected my career if I had not encountered your site. Your own personal ability and kindness in touching all the stuff was precious. I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t discovered such a step like this. I can also at this point look forward to my future. Thank you very much for the reliable and result oriented help. I won’t think twice to recommend the blog to anybody who desires assistance about this subject matter.

  • pandora charms
    Posted January 2, 2018 8:01 am 0Likes

    My husband and i were now contented when John could deal with his basic research using the ideas he received using your web pages. It is now and again perplexing to simply choose to be freely giving facts the rest may have been making money from. And we also remember we now have the website owner to be grateful to because of that. All the illustrations you have made, the straightforward web site navigation, the friendships you make it possible to foster – it is most impressive, and it’s really aiding our son in addition to us do think the situation is amusing, and that is exceptionally serious. Many thanks for the whole thing!

  • yeezy boost
    Posted January 2, 2018 2:34 pm 0Likes

    you’ve gotten an amazing blog here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my weblog?

  • Pingback: gvk biosciences news
  • Pingback: pharmacokinetics
  • ferragamo belts
    Posted January 3, 2018 4:17 pm 0Likes

    I as well as my guys were actually reviewing the excellent information and facts on your site and then suddenly came up with a horrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the website owner for those tips. All the people appeared to be absolutely glad to study all of them and have in effect undoubtedly been using these things. Thank you for genuinely well accommodating and for utilizing some incredible things most people are really wanting to understand about. My honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

  • air max 90
    Posted January 5, 2018 2:38 am 0Likes

    I definitely wanted to make a simple note to thank you for all the superb pointers you are giving out on this website. My time consuming internet investigation has finally been paid with pleasant information to exchange with my two friends. I would mention that most of us readers actually are very much blessed to live in a good website with very many wonderful people with very beneficial hints. I feel rather blessed to have discovered the web site and look forward to really more exciting minutes reading here. Thanks a lot again for everything.

  • yeezy boost 350 v2
    Posted January 5, 2018 11:34 am 0Likes

    I was more than happy to search out this internet-site.I wanted to thanks to your time for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you weblog post.

  • huarache shoes
    Posted January 6, 2018 12:37 pm 0Likes

    I enjoy you because of all your valuable hard work on this web site. Debby take interest in carrying out research and it’s really easy to understand why. We hear all concerning the powerful method you convey rewarding ideas on your web blog and as well as recommend response from website visitors on the point while our own child is being taught a lot. Take pleasure in the rest of the new year. Your carrying out a fabulous job.

  • adidas yeezy
    Posted January 8, 2018 6:05 am 0Likes

    Needed to put you one very little note to help say thanks again for your personal extraordinary techniques you have documented here. It is simply surprisingly open-handed of people like you to make easily all that a lot of folks could have made available as an e-book to help make some money for themselves, precisely now that you might well have tried it if you desired. These basics additionally acted to provide a fantastic way to realize that other people online have the same fervor just like my personal own to grasp a whole lot more in regard to this matter. I am certain there are thousands of more pleasurable situations in the future for individuals that start reading your website.

  • links of london sale
    Posted January 9, 2018 4:39 pm 0Likes

    Thank you so much for providing individuals with an extremely wonderful opportunity to read critical reviews from this website. It really is so pleasurable and as well , stuffed with fun for me and my office friends to search your blog more than 3 times in a week to find out the latest tips you will have. And lastly, I am usually satisfied for the effective tactics you give. Selected 2 areas in this article are basically the most efficient we have had.

  • yeezy boost 350
    Posted January 9, 2018 9:42 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for your own efforts on this site. My aunt really loves engaging in investigations and it is obvious why. I hear all about the lively form you provide very helpful guidelines via the web blog and as well recommend contribution from other people on that topic then our favorite girl is always learning a great deal. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. You’re the one doing a first class job.

  • nike huarache sale
    Posted January 11, 2018 2:29 am 0Likes

    I want to show my appreciation to the writer just for rescuing me from this particular incident. As a result of browsing throughout the online world and coming across tricks which are not beneficial, I figured my entire life was gone. Existing devoid of the strategies to the difficulties you’ve fixed through the article content is a crucial case, and the kind that might have negatively damaged my entire career if I had not encountered your web page. That training and kindness in maneuvering all the pieces was priceless. I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t discovered such a stuff like this. It’s possible to at this point look ahead to my future. Thanks a lot so much for the impressive and result oriented guide. I will not hesitate to propose your blog post to anyone who requires assistance on this problem.

  • yeezys
    Posted January 12, 2018 12:54 pm 0Likes

    I’m writing to let you know of the notable encounter my wife’s daughter developed reading through the blog. She discovered a good number of details, including how it is like to have an ideal teaching mood to make many others effortlessly have an understanding of specified impossible subject areas. You really did more than our expectations. Thank you for presenting those powerful, trustworthy, edifying and even easy tips on your topic to Evelyn.

  • yeezy boost
    Posted January 12, 2018 6:27 pm 0Likes

    I am only commenting to make you understand what a superb discovery my wife’s child found visiting your webblog. She figured out plenty of pieces, including what it’s like to possess an incredible coaching mindset to have many others smoothly learn about selected hard to do topics. You really surpassed our own desires. Many thanks for displaying those great, healthy, edifying as well as cool thoughts on that topic to Sandra.

  • cheap jordans
    Posted January 13, 2018 7:49 pm 0Likes

    Thank you so much for giving everyone an exceptionally superb opportunity to check tips from this website. It is always very kind and also stuffed with a great time for me and my office fellow workers to visit your website minimum 3 times in a week to learn the latest secrets you have. And lastly, I’m so usually astounded with all the special principles you serve. Some 1 ideas in this posting are without a doubt the finest we have all had.

  • cheap jordans
    Posted January 15, 2018 5:22 am 0Likes

    I needed to write you this bit of remark to give many thanks once again for the breathtaking things you have documented on this website. It’s quite surprisingly generous of people like you to offer publicly what exactly many people could have marketed as an electronic book to generate some dough for themselves, notably now that you could have tried it in the event you wanted. These strategies in addition served like a great way to be sure that most people have the same keenness like my very own to understand somewhat more on the subject of this problem. I think there are several more fun moments up front for many who scan through your website.

  • yeezy boost
    Posted January 15, 2018 3:40 pm 0Likes

    My spouse and i were now satisfied Jordan could complete his homework through your precious recommendations he discovered when using the weblog. It is now and again perplexing to simply be releasing guides that many other people could have been selling. And we also remember we have got you to give thanks to for that. The type of illustrations you have made, the simple website navigation, the friendships you can assist to promote – it is most amazing, and it is helping our son and us do think this matter is excellent, and that is pretty important. Thanks for all!

  • nike roshe run
    Posted January 16, 2018 5:39 pm 0Likes

    I am just commenting to make you know what a exceptional experience my cousin’s daughter developed reading your web page. She realized a good number of pieces, which included how it is like to possess an ideal coaching style to let other folks easily know selected tortuous subject matter. You really exceeded her expected results. Many thanks for presenting these precious, trusted, revealing and in addition unique tips about that topic to Jane.

  • birkin bag
    Posted January 17, 2018 9:36 pm 0Likes

    My spouse and i felt really contented Emmanuel could do his investigation while using the ideas he received using your web pages. It’s not at all simplistic just to choose to be giving for free thoughts which many others could have been selling. And now we know we now have you to be grateful to for this. These explanations you have made, the simple web site navigation, the relationships you can aid to promote – it’s mostly fantastic, and it’s making our son in addition to the family consider that this content is awesome, which is certainly wonderfully essential. Thanks for all!

  • yeezy boost 350
    Posted January 18, 2018 6:01 am 0Likes

    My spouse and i got absolutely thankful when Louis could finish off his investigation out of the ideas he obtained in your web page. It’s not at all simplistic to simply choose to be releasing secrets which some other people have been trying to sell. And we also realize we need you to be grateful to for this. Those illustrations you have made, the straightforward site menu, the friendships you can aid to instill – it’s everything exceptional, and it’s letting our son in addition to the family recognize that the idea is enjoyable, which is certainly especially essential. Thank you for all the pieces!

  • nike air max
    Posted January 19, 2018 2:34 am 0Likes

    I’m just writing to make you know of the helpful encounter our princess obtained reading through the blog. She even learned such a lot of pieces, with the inclusion of what it is like to possess an excellent helping mindset to let many others smoothly master a variety of very confusing issues. You truly exceeded readers’ expectations. Many thanks for offering those informative, trusted, revealing as well as fun tips about the topic to Julie.

  • curry 4
    Posted January 20, 2018 6:27 am 0Likes

    I precisely needed to thank you so much once more. I do not know what I would’ve worked on in the absence of the type of opinions documented by you on this question. Completely was a real frightful scenario in my circumstances, but witnessing a new professional avenue you handled the issue took me to cry over fulfillment. I am just happier for your assistance and thus hope that you really know what an amazing job you happen to be carrying out instructing some other people through your blog. Most probably you haven’t encountered any of us.

Add Comment