I was talking to one of my very best friends today, KC, whom I have known all of my life, who knows me better than my relatives do. Sisters by choice, we can talk about anything, even politics and she suggested I write about this: can Republicans and Democrats be friends?
I would say a resounding yes, with one exception, those on the extreme left and the extreme right who might somehow find a middle ground, but only with a gap the size of the Grand Canyon.
Of course, this is just my opinion.
I am not overly fond of labels, like Democrat and Republican, liberal, racist or Neo-Nazi. However, we do like to label one another. It seems our minds want to organize people into simple labeled boxes like tax receipts, but does anyone really fit neatly into one of those boxes or are the boxes bulging at the seams? When we slap a quick label on someone do we hurt the person we are labeling or ourselves, for the missed opportunity brought on by judgment?
A few years ago, I gave up being judgmental. It started as an exercise but turned into a lifestyle change. I suddenly realized what judgment does to the judge. It causes one to miss the hidden beauty in humanity, to believe the lie of the masks we all parade, to give credence to rumor and speculation and to forget our mission here on earth, which is to leave this world a better place than it was when we entered it.
So, can Democrats and Republicans be friends? Bill O’Reilly asked this question on his program. Stop right there, if you think Bill O’Reilly is a right-wing guy, then you obviously have not watched his program. Watch first, then judge if you want.
I give Bill credit for attempting to cross the journalistic aisle and appear on programs such as The View, The David Letterman Show and to spar with John Stewart. This gives me hope for American broadcast journalism, there might be a middle ground, eventually.
I like to think of myself as an independent. I even like the word; it has so many beautiful connotations. I have in the past, voted for both Republicans and Democrats, making my decision based on the issues at hand, although on the books, in the box, I am ‘labeled’ a Republican. Currently, that platform is the most appealing to me.
Oh, and yes I do have friends who are both Democrats and Republicans. So why is it taboo to talk about politics? What’s the big deal? I’ve had friends become enraged over political comments made in jest, whose political viewpoints were so fragile, so easily offended, that they were unable to allow casual comments to pass. If they were true friends we got past it, if not, we didn’t. So if you’re squeamish, maybe avoid the topic with acquaintances, but not with good friends.
My friend KC admits to being a Democrat. She is a single mother, who lost her husband to cancer, very suddenly, at the age of thirty-four. Not long after that, during the foreclosure crisis, she and her daughter lost their home. A few years later, after rebuilding their lives, a house fire took everything they owned, clothing, photographs, mementos, but thankfully, no one was hurt.
KC is a college graduate actively seeking employment but says, for her daughter, she is willing to wait tables or clean houses, whatever it takes. “At least,” she says, “I can be home when my daughter gets home from school.” She cannot afford daycare. She cannot afford healthcare, but she says, “I’m lucky. I went through a horrible time, but I have my health, I have my daughter and I’ve learned to appreciate what really matters in life.”
Forget the labels; they only lead to divisive thinking. Fighting among ourselves will never make our country stronger. There is one label we can all wear proudly and that is American.