It’s sad to see how roughly two halves of our country are seemingly diametrically opposed to one another. At least that’s what the media, the professional commentators are trying to make us believe. It reminds me of Joan’s and my road trip in 2017 to and from Minneapolis where her family lives. I was somewhat apprehensive of whether politics was going to come up. Donald Trump had just been elected. Remember, in 1980 Minnesota was the only state to vote for THEIR candidate, Walter Mondale (against Ronald Reagan, in case you forgot). But to my surprise, quite a few of my in-laws had actually voted for Trump and there was no sharp acrimony in the family. People in Minnesota seemed to accept each other’s opinion, were generous with their patience listening to the why’s and what’s. And as we were traveling, partly by way of Route 66 (you should do that if you haven’t already), I was sort of expecting the opposite. The press had vilified the Midwest because they had gotten Trump into the White House. Silly, uninformed people!
And again, same experience. Along the way we talked to many people, mainly in bars and restaurants. We didn’t quite open the discussions with a “how could you?!”, but the topic invariably came up as we overheard people talking politics. People mentioned their reasons, argued, but not, that we could see, in a harsh way. We could detect frustration, but also hope, bitterness but also compassion, about lots of issues. It felt like the togetherness of our nation still existed. I think it still does although you wouldn’t say from the screaming that happens on TV and in the press. This is not meant as an excuse for Trump. There is no excuse for his behavior leading up to the violence on Capitol Hill. This is about the underlying things that got him elected, about half of our country feeling set up against the other half (in both directions).
We can do better. We have to learn to listen again. We have to be willing to compromise.