We Can Vote Differently and Still Love and Respect One Another

I just happened to catch a friend's half response to one of my social media article shares about the election, but she had tripped over that stupid send-on-enter thing rather than getting a new line, and then just said to hell with it and deleted. :) I jokingly sent a half reply to her half comment, and we ended up chatting about the election results for a bit, and things that have been going on since then. It was refreshing to just have a simple conversation about the election with another human being, and being able to share our perspectives with confidence, knowing that we wouldn't judge each other. With my friend's permission, I'm sharing what we talked about here.

It's Okay To Be Different

My friend, Hanssie, is actually a registered Republican (I didn't know), and when she explained to me why she couldn't possibly support the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, I totally understood where she was coming from. She explained, "as a minority, an immigrant, a woman who's been cheated on, I hate that a man like Trump is our president because idiots think they have permission to be racist, sexist, and all the other -ists that are associated with him. Trump used hate as a platform, has little respect, is a bully and is just plain unkind. That is the role model the majority of this country voted in and it's shameful. He encompasses everything I dislike about people. That's why I didn't vote for him." Even though as a registered Republican, she shared more in Trump's vision for our country than Hillary Clinton's, the overriding issues for her were his extreme character flaws, and she couldn't vote for him.

Full stop. I totally understood where she was coming from. No need to say anything more. 

I explained that I'm actually a conservative Libertarian registered as a Democrat (it's complicated!), but that I couldn't for the life of me support Hillary Clinton for my own personal reasons, Among them, her incessant lying about everything, including her mishandling of classified material (I used to work in defense), her feelings of entitlement and as though she's above the law, her seemingly never ending stream of moral, corruption, and ethical issues, and her vision for the country going forward just wasn't my own. But that's just scratching the surface. Another unique and unfortunate life experience that I have, besides being a young adult cancer survivor, is the fact that my family had received numerous death threats from a completely racist, bigoted, and hateful family member. When you've received death threats like this and you have young children, some very powerful protective instincts kick in as a parent, and this is how my wife and I both became very strong believers in the 2nd Amendment and our rights to self-defense. Donald Trump has promised to uphold the 2nd Amendment, and install Supreme Court justices that will uphold it. The Democrats and Hillary Clinton would love nothing more than to abolish it, and make no mistake, they would if they could. What ever happened to the Blue Dog Democrats? I know that some people will feel very strongly against this view, and that's okay. That's why we vote.

As much as I detest Donald Trump as a person and that he lacks the character and temperament to be President, he stands for most of what I believe in, and Hillary Clinton stands for most everything that I do not, and that's that. I'm not sexist, racist, xenophobic, or any other -ist, and my life is living proof of that. I know that my friend doesn't see me as such, I'm actually pro-LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, and agreed with and applauded the Supreme Court's decision on that. My priorities were just different in this election, based on my own life experiences and beliefs. 

There's No Need for Hate

There was no need or desire to tear each other's faces off, because we're friends, because we respect each other, and appreciate each other's perspectives. I couldn't stand Trump's glaring character issues either, but for me and my priorities, had to put country above character. When it comes down to it, despite opposite party affiliations and different votes, we both actually have very similar views about things, but our unique experiences and challenges through life tend to shift our priorities around. Had I lived Hanssie's life experiences as my own, having been abused and mistreated by men, I could never have voted for Donald Trump either, even if I shared in his world view. It's okay to have a different take on things, a different perspective and a different view. That's what makes America great, and that we're free to openly share in our views. There's no need to hate.

It's your choice to hate someone for a different view. 
Nobody is forcing you to do that, except you.

I love and appreciate my friend for her willingness to be so open about her painful life experiences in order to help others, and always appreciate hearing different perspectives. That's how we learn and expand as human beings, not by surrounding ourselves only with people who think the same as us, but by hearing from those that have felt different.

Want another view? Here's the fascinating perspective of an immigrant Muslim woman who supports Trump because she wants to see a stronger response to terrorism. It's amazing how we can have such similar overall thoughts about life and the world, yet vote so differently, all due to varying life experiences and the priorities we have as a result. We should never make assumptions about people, and I've learned not to judge others for their actions, or votes. We can't vote for all of our values at once, and have to prioritize based on what matters the most to us. Presidential candidates are package deals, and you have to pick the one that fits your needs, priorities, and world view the best, even if you dislike both as most Americans did. This woman prioritized differently in her selection, just as we all do, and that's perfectly fine! 

We Have Tremendous Capacity to Grow and Evolve in Our Lives

Another life experience that Hanssie and I share, is that we both understand very well the degree to which we can grow and evolve as human beings. We've both had to grow in very big ways in order to evolve past the challenges that life has thrown our way. Hanssie certainly isn't the person that she was prior to her divorce, nor am I the same person that I was before cancer entered my life at the age of 33. We're both better and far more evolved human beings today, and it's the challenges and struggles that we've faced in our lives that have fueled that personal growth. I wouldn't be the person that I am today without these challenges, which has taught me above all, that it's okay to face challenges in our lives, and that there can be a higher purpose behind our struggles.

We're both with the two-thirds majority of the country that neither like nor trust Donald Trump (and to be fair, the same was true of Hillary Clinton), but we accept that Trump is our President-elect now. Trump has clear and glaring character flaws, but we both know very intimately of the degree to which we can grow as human beings, and hope and believe that Trump will grow into his role as our President, just as President Obama did, and President Bush did before him. Perhaps President Clinton missed the memo on that. Donald Trump will fail me as a president if he fails to grow in the ways that I know an individual can grow. I'm counting on him to do so in a very big way, and he has my prayers and support to do so. Growth takes time. I fully expect that Trump will fail us here from time to time, but we're willing to give him a chance, because we know how these things go. Judgement on the Trump presidency will be cast in the mid-term elections in 2018, and ultimately in 2020 when he faces re-election. That's how it works.

My friend and I both agreed that the true tragedy here is being forced to betray so many of our beliefs no matter which way we voted. Nobody really liked either of these candidates except for the true-believers on both sides. There were no shortage of people who disliked their party's candidates, but 60 million of us across both sides who voted in the general election, didn't vote in the primaries! Twice as many people voted in the general election as in the primaries. Guilty as charged. There won't be a next time on that, for the love of my country as well. We all deserve better, on both sides.

Talk To People   

The point of this blog is to simply encourage people to talk to one another, and to share in your perspectives and life experiences, and how that led you to vote the way you did. We're a diverse nation, yes, but we're all human beings and Americans, and we can learn so much from each other if we just talk and engage with each other in non-confrontational and non-judgmental ways. 

I also talked to a Russian-American friend of mine who came to the U.S. as a Ukrainian refugee, and with his permission I'll share his thoughts as well. His world view doesn't really fit into the traditional liberal or conservative dichotomy of American politics, but explained that he couldn't vote for Trump because of his chummy relationship towards Vladimir Putin, and because of his life experience as a refugee. Full stop. Total respect. How could you not respect that? My Russian friend has other Russian-American friends that prioritized differently. As he explained, some might have felt the same way about Trump and Putin, but some are business owners that have suffered financially from the highly punitive tax rates under the Obama administration, wanted to see change, and Trump has vowed to slash tax rates. How could you not respect that also? We're all entitled to our opinions and perspectives, and our unique journeys and experiences through life are what shape us, and lead us to vote the way we do.

I love hearing perspectives like these, and thanks to these friends of mine that were willing to speak openly about their views, I understand a lot more about people's lives now. How would you know that a reason one might believe so strongly in the 2nd Amendment, was because they had received racially motivated threats to kill their entire family, unless you talk to them? How would I know how badly a Russian-American could dislike Trump from the experience of having been a Ukranian refugee, and Trump's warm relationship with Putin unless you talk to them? How could you really know how badly a woman might respond to Trump's glaring character flaws, unless you talk to them and realize that they had been abused and mistreated by men, and saw those same flaws in Trump? How could you understand how a Muslim woman could actually vote for Trump, unless you read their perspective and see that there are actually Muslims out there that want to see a stronger response to terrorism? And I understand very well and respect the fears that my many LGBTQ friends have about the Trump-Pence presidency, for obvious reasons and fearing a rollback of their rights. I want my LGBTQ friends to know that I am just as opposed to any assault on their rights as they are, even if I didn't vote with them. My life experience has brought different challenges my way, and I've had to prioritize differently as a result.

You have to talk to people, and don't just talk to people, talk to them earnestly and with interest as fellow human beings, soul to soul.

You're never going to expand as a person if you only talk to people who agree with you. Get out of your comfort zones and echo chambers, talk openly and non-judgmentally to people who voted different, and hear what they have to say without judgement or criticism. Learn from their perspectives, and that there are other perspectives out there than your own, and that other people can be just as right as you. That's how you grow as a person, and that's also how we can find common ground. While many of us might have different beliefs and world views, we're not nearly as different as the media and pundits all claim we are. As I've found in my writing and from interacting with thousands of cancer survivors across the globe, our humanity binds us, and we're all very much the same inside, and want the same things in the end. Never forget that.

Writers unite! My friend Hanssie lives in Huntington Beach, CA along with like a zillion other friends of mine. It was a great pleasure to meet in person when she was in town for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC in October 2016. Why would we want to punch each other in the face because we didn't vote the same? Don't be stupid like that! 

Writers unite! My friend Hanssie lives in Huntington Beach, CA along with like a zillion other friends of mine. It was a great pleasure to meet in person when she was in town for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC in October 2016. Why would we want to punch each other in the face because we didn't vote the same? Don't be stupid like that! 


Hot tip: Hanssie suggests that if you're looking for a bit less drama, watch Scandal on ABC. Yes! It's still on, and yes, less drama!!! :)