We are truly a nation divided. As much as I want this to change, I have to be honest with myself and I do not believe that it will. I have always prided myself on being surrounded by different kinds of people, politically and otherwise. On the political spectrum, I have Democratic, Socialist, Green Party, Libertarian, and Republican friends. Not just associates, actual friends. I consider myself a moderate Democrat. I voted for President Bush over John Kerry, and I also voted for John McCain over President Obama. I tend to vote for whom I believe has the most moderate view and the best outlook for EVERYONE in the country. I believe that too much liberalism or conservatism is a bad thing. With that said, I am beginning to notice my “friend” circle of right-wing Republicans is slowly fading away. I wanted to take a deeper look at this and figure out why.
One of the great attributes of the GOP is its undying love for our men and women in the military. The respect and admiration I have for anyone brave enough to put on that uniform cannot be expressed in words. In August of 2017, when Donald Trump signaled that he wanted to ban transgendered men and women from serving in the military, I looked for my GOP friends to sound the alarm. What happened was the complete opposite. None of them spoke up, and some of them even defended the ban. The typical response was, “It costs so much,” and, “Those freaks shouldn’t be allowed to serve anyway.” I watched in horror.
When it comes to Civil Rights, Republicans like to boast that Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, “freed the slaves.” They typically gloss over the fact that President Lincoln didn’t believe blacks should have the same rights as whites, and that the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually free all the slaves, but I digress. In 2016 alone, over 200 people of color were killed by police officers in this country. In a large majority of these cases, my Republican friends sided with the police, no matter the evidence. When Tamir Rice, aged 12, was murdered by Ohio police officers in 2014, I thought this would be the moment when my Republican friends spoke up. This was the murder of an innocent child, how could they not? And they did speak up. They asked irrelevant and callous questions like, “Why did the gun look so real?” or, “Where were his parents?” or, “Why is he so big?” Was I surprised? Not exactly. Yet half of me wondered how it could be that these people, who I considered friends, were beginning to sound like racists. I watched silently as they put up their “Blue Lives Matter” banners. Then something strange happened. In July 2017, an unarmed white woman, Justine Damond, was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. The “Blue Lives Matter” people flipped, and they wanted this officer’s badge and they demanded he serve time. I Googled the officer, Mohamed Noor, and he was an officer of color. It became blaringly clear that, to these people who I called friends, race played a large part in their decision making process, and strongly swayed their opinions.
Republicans also pride themselves on their love of the First Amendment, allowing all Americans the freedom of speech. I have watched and listened to my Republican friends bash President Obama for the last nine years now. As soon as Donald Trump was elected, the idea of freedom of speech drastically changed. No one is allowed to speak out against Trump, it is considered unpatriotic. Even as Trump is marching forth to lead us into World War III or, worse, Nuclear War, my comments on the matter are not welcome. I am told to “respect” the office of the presidency. Where was all this respect for President Obama? I am guessing it was locked away in a box, lying next to Donald Trump’s tax returns.
According to Google Dictionary, the definition of a friend is “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” It has become increasingly difficult for me, as a person of color and as a homosexual, to have a bond with a group of people that does not have any of my interests at heart. As much as I am sure this will pain some of my “friends” to read, it pains me to have to write it. I want to be unified with all Americans, but I need them to want to be unified with me also. I don’t want to just be the “friend” you invite to happy hour, birthday parties, and weddings. I want to be the friend who is invited into your life; a friend whose health, safety, and happiness actually means something of importance. That is what friendship is. The fact that I may not be able to have meaningful friendships with the new breed of Republican is, to me, the saddest part of 2017.
Contributing Editor: Ken Mejia-Beal
Ken Mejia-Beal is a concerned citizen, who cares deeply for his country. Ken wants to make the world a better place for all people. A capitalist with a heart who believes in free thinking and human rights. Ken wants to use his words in order to shine a light on political ventures in order to allow those without knowledge to form strong positions through fact based conversation. Ken resides in DuPage County, within Illinois. He has ambitions to motivate those around him to communicate differing ideas while remaining civil.