What a Conversation With an Angry TrumpFan Facebook Friend Taught Me About Politics in America, and Myself

A Facebook friend recently posted this on her timeline:

Why did African American Dems refuse to stand when our President announced the lowest unemployment rate for AAmericans in history?

I said, “Ask them.”

One of her friends asked, “What are they saying?”

I mentioned the ever present wage gap, the ever present unemployment disparity between blacks and whites, and a few other staples of the racial inequity conversation.

My friend asked “Cite your sources please.”

So I shared a link from my blog that lists all the disparity with references.

My friend said, “this has nothing to do with what we’re talking about.”

I repeated my “ask them” statement, a little more snarkily. My friend responded with something akin to “I already know the answer.”

Boom – you couldn’t articulate American politics more clearly.

The conversation devolved into this:

Mark Landry You’re like a spoiled child who can’t get his way and has to be sent to his room because he won’t listen to reason.”

My friend is angry, and feels like all of the disrespect people have for Trump is hurting our country.

She’s not interested in my side of the issue.  I could say “listen to them” till I’m blue in the face.  I could heap upon her reams of evidence all but proving how bad racial injustice is in our country.  But she’s made up her mind – somehow she knows what these black Democrat non-Trump supporters are thinking without talking to any of them.

It’s like magic.

In the US, we’ve never been good at listening to each other’s political views, but it’s off the hook now.  Trump supporters think liberals are trying to destroy the country, but have never sat down with a liberal to hear their side of the story.  “I don’t need to, Fox news told me everything I need to know.”  Liberals do the same – conservatives are under educated, gun-toting hillbillies who don’t care about anything beyond themselves.

The media outlets aren’t helping.  Trump can’t do anything right on CNN, he can do no wrong on Fox.  There’s nothing “fake” here, only “spun” news, carefully curated by folk who stand to lose a. lot. of money if they don’t tell their congregation what they want to hear.

But in this conversation with my Facebook friend, I finally realized that I’m not listening either.  No need.  I already know what she’s thinking.

It’s like magic.

A few weeks ago I was on vacation outside the US with a friend of mine who’s a Trump supporter.  We were staying in a hostel and quickly made friends with a few Europeans.  At dinner one night, a girl from Lithuania asked,”How in the world did you elect someone like Trump?”  Embarrassed for my country, and for myself, I made it patently clear that I had nothing to do with it.

I had been digging at my friend about Trump all week, and it was getting to him, so he finally chimed in.  We had been getting up every morning at 5:00 AM for surfing so we were super tired, and maybe a bit under the influence, so the conversation got heated.  At one point he said, “You’re not listening.”  I said, “I don’t need to.  You don’t like Hilary, and you think Trump is good for the economy.  I know exactly what you’re thinking,” then kept on with my tirade until he gave up.

It would have been better for both of us if would have stopped, said “You’re right, I’m not listening, sorry man,” and given him a chance to share his thoughts.  Lithuania girl would have ripped him a new one, but at least he would have felt listened to.

Heard.

One of the biggest insults we can hurl at each other is not “you’re an idiot” or, “you just want to destroy our country.”  When we refuse to listen, we really piss each other off.

We stand to lose nothing – whatsoever – by listening.  I can guarantee you that you’ll never get me to see eye-to-eye with a Trump supporter, but I can gain a bigger understanding of where someone’s coming from, and if nothing else, let them know that they matter – their opinion matters.

Listening to each other is the best way to move forward, and vice versa.

In addition to all of this, I’m a Christian.  I’m conservative in some areas, liberal in others, but I’m charged with taking up for the poor and marginalized, AND doing everything in my power to be at peace with people.  I’m finding that’s a hard row to hoe, but that’s Jesus in a nutshell.  I think I could sum up all of His commandments with “Go, do some really hard shit.”

So I’ve decided to be more respectful as I navigate this uncharted-for-me political era.  Refusing to give someone a voice is one of the most unproductive things I can think of.

As much as I hate it, I’m going to have to listen.  Ironically, if I do, I’ll be listened to more than if I continue to try and change people’s minds, or talk to them like I’d talk to Hitler.

To my Facebook friend I posted:

I’m realizing that I haven’t listened to or considered your perspective. I’m sorry about that. Let me know if you’d like to get coffee sometime. I’ll do a better job.

It was hardest thing I’ve written in a long time.

Her tone immediately changed, and she agreed to get coffee soon.  If we do get together, I’ll listen, ask questions, repeat her perspectives back to her so she knows that she’s been heard, and that she matters.  I might ask for her to extend the same courtesy to me, but we’ll see.

She might not be ready to listen.  Not everybody is, including me, apparently.  But she’ll be a ton closer if I can muster the trust in Jesus that I’m always blabbering about, and listen to her first.

5 thoughts on “What a Conversation With an Angry TrumpFan Facebook Friend Taught Me About Politics in America, and Myself

  • In an answer to your friend’s question, “Why did African American Dems refuse to stand when our President announced the lowest unemployment rate for Americans in history?” I wish you would have answered, “For the same reason Melania didn’t stand up when he touted his love for morals and family”.

    Liked by 1 person

  • My sister likes Trump, even after all the crap he has said. It is because he has done some things that really resonate with her. He said we were going to quit giving money to so many countries who do nothing good with it. I’ve often thought that money was just going into the pockets of the elite. The countries we gave to didn’t seem to be helping their people. Apparently that money was to make sure they would be our friends. Well, as long as there are poor people and people without medical insurance, I don’t like the idea of tax dollars going to other countries either, unless they have had a catastrophe and need help. I’m disgusted that Trump hasn’t helped Puerto Rico more.

    She is happy he is charging tariffs on companies who build cars and other things in other countries. Some auto makers are moving back to the States. I’m glad about this too. She thought he would get us out of the Middle East since it is a waste of time and money, but he changed about that.

    I think Trump is an evil man and lower taxes for the rich is the most important thing to him and other Republicans. They want to get rid of President Obama’s health insurance and don’t care if people die. They hate paying for food stamps and don’t care if people starve. The drug companies charge huge prices for their drugs and don’t care if people die. Businesses hire part-time so they don’t have to give anyone benefits or health care. Hospitals and doctors are mostly money hungry. They don’t want pot legalized, even though it is a proven medical drug that helps people and has few side-effects.

    Well, you know all this. So does my sister. I can’t fathom why she likes Trump. However, I do remember her saying she quit voting after the Al Gore/George Bush election because the Supreme Court made the decision and not the people. She feels it was rigged and she quit trusting the government. Trump came along saying stuff against the government and she loved that. He actually said what he thought, which she found refreshing.

    Sorry, I went on for a long time. But I thought you might want to know why one person likes Trump. The thing is, my sister has a genius IQ. God figure! I love her. I don’t care what her politics are.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I noticed recently through her Facebook posts that a former liberal friend of mine had become a Trump supporter. I messaged her and asked questions to try to gain some insight on how a compassionate, smart and “good” person could flip so drastically. I found it really helpful that she was willing to be respectful in her answers. I’m still puzzled by the turn, but at least she offered thought out reasons instead of the usual useless insults.

    Liked by 1 person

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