Despite my healthy fear and sincere loathing of President Trump, I have not yet turned on the people who voted for him, and I still believe that one of the actions we can take as patriots is to communicate the very best we can with people who are defining patriotism differently than we. Not to convince one another of our point of view—Lord knows we've been trying that for long enough—but to forge some kind of mutually workable alternative, to this.
But it’s hard!
Just the other day I managed to piss off one of the best-natured people I know, with a Facebook post about how I wish my male friends would stop “mansplaining to me how much calmer I ought to be.”
Though I hadn’t called him out or even hoped to draw him out, my friend correctly surmised that my post had been partly inspired by some posts he’d done doubting the wisdom and effectiveness of last weekend's immigration-order protests.
No big deal, though, right? Good-natured guy, right? Point taken, right? Or agree to disagree, worst case.
No, my friend got mad. How did I know he was mad? Because he said he wasn't mad. (I've been married a long time.) Why was he mad? I think it was “mansplaining.” I think that’s what really pissed him off.
Now, I thought it was kind of funny for a dude to complain about being mansplained to, and I actually thought it offered an insight into one of the reasons I get so pissed at conservatives. For all my life, conservative bosses, colleagues, family members and friends have chuckled at me like my dad, explaining Fiscal Reality 101 to a third-grader who wants a raise in his allowance to buy more candy. And I have resented it, and often bitten my tongue. And I still resent it, as my oldest and dearest pal learned toward the end of a long night of drinking and condescension shortly after the election. I still remember the look of stunned surprise on his face when I erupted.
But I’d rather be called a naive fool than a heartless, ignorant prick. Which is what conservatives have been called their whole lives. Of course, they don’t admit it hurts their feelings. They pretend to wear liberal scorn like a badge of honor. But the thing is, they’re NOT heartless. Conservatives have feelers too. They have been biting tongues a lot of the time, too. And when they are accused of being sexist, racist, greedy or selfish by someone they like—(let alone a "basket of deplorables" by someone they don't)—all those years of hurt come out. And usually, in the form of white-lipped rage.
Eventually, conservatives and liberals are going to have to talk to one another constructively, because we're going to have to contend with President Trump together. Not all of us, but some of us. And we each need to be aware, not only of the other person’s old hurts, but our own.