These are volatile times. You can’t log on to any social media platform without learning of a new “scandal” or witnessing a Twitter war between a liberal and a conservative. It’s draining, to be honest, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Not anytime soon, anyway.
One very minute upside of online dating now is that most people self-identify as a Democrat or Republican. You know where they lean before you ever communicate. But what do you do if you’re out socializing and talking with a man who decides to drop the T-bomb out of nowhere?
After our Fencing class today, we all went out for beers. I was sitting at the end of the table with a group of about four people who were talking about online dating. The topic of social media was raised, and one man mentioned his Instagram account. I opened the app on my phone and asked him what his profile name was. I looked him up and asked, “Can I follow you?”
“Yeah,” he said. I clicked the Follow button. “But be warned. I’m a Trump supporter.”
“Aaaand unfollow,” I said, re-clicking the button. “That’s so disappointing.”
The banter stopped. “No politics,” one person said. But it was too late. You can’t put that genie back in the bottle. As it turned out, I was the only liberal in the group. I turned to one guy, a baby-faced blonde originally from Arkansas, and asked, “Do you hate women that much?”
His eyes bulged. “What? No.”
I don’t believe you.
When I raised the point that Trump had been accused of rape, the guy I followed (and unfollowed) on Instagram, said, “What about Bill Clinton?”
“BILL CLINTON ISN’T OUR PRESIDENT!” I shouted. God damn it, those false equivalency arguments drive me bananas. Oh. Bill Clinton was a dirt bag? Then why don’t you hop in a time machine and go back a couple of decades when that was relevant. “He raped his ex-wife.”
“No, he didn’t.”
“Yes, he did.” I said. “His ex-wife wrote about it in her book. You must at least believe the Russians interfered with the election, right?”
“No, they didn’t,” he said. “The media blah blah blah.”
“OH, COME ON!” I shrieked.
Obviously, we didn’t agree on much, though we did see eye-to-eye on the fact that CNN had a hard-on Trump, focused too much on his Tweets, and were playing right into his hands. As a viewer and a total bitch, I love the shade they throw Trump’s way. But there’s a line between reporting news and beating a dead horse. Christ, we. get. it. You don’t like him.
The tricky part of this is that I wasn’t just another person at the table. I own this business. I organize these events. I had a responsibility to be inclusive, and I failed.
I turned to the blonde guy I accused of hating women. “Did I offend you?” I asked.
“A little,” he said.
One part of me wanted to scream, “I don’t care!” The other side – the business owner side – gave myself a mental slap on the wrist. No matter how I feel, I should never have shamed him like that.
“I’m very sorry,” I said. “I should have kept my mouth shut.”
He snatched his knapsack and left the bar without saying goodbye to anyone, and I was to blame. But then, nobody twisted his arm to answer me honestly when I asked if he voted for Trump, too. Nor was Instagram guy forced to bring up his allegiance to The Orange One. He could have kept that to himself, but he didn’t. He went there, and I happen to think it was because he wanted a reaction. And boy did he get one. I mean, you have to know you’re going to create waves by outing your political affiliation in that manner. Which is the point, I think.
This experience raised a question in my mind: what do you do when you’re in a situation like that? What if that were a date? What if Luc, my gym crush, voted for Trump? How would I have reacted? It’s all too raw for me to bite my tongue. Don’t tell me you don’t hate us. Don’t tell me you’re not a racist or a homophobe or a bigot. You had options other than Hillary. You chose a man who berated a physically challenged reporter; a man who openly bragged about grabbing women by their vaginas; a man who decreed that most Mexicans are criminals. A man who, up until the point of his nomination, was a god damn Democrat. Every time a new infraction is revealed, people scream, “Fake news!” Facts don’t matter.
I want to be open-minded, but I can’t. I’m unable to listen to rationalizations involving the economy and unemployment. All I hear is, “I hate women. I hate black people. I hate gay people.” I can’t help it. How they voted is the first thing I want to know about someone now, and I think that’s how it’s going to be for a very long time.
Is it even possible to have a reasonable debate about this anymore? What do you do when someone reveals they voted for Trump?