My Best Friend Voted for Trump. I Still Love Her.
There is an article written by a freelance writer titled, “My Family Refused to Support Hillary Clinton and I'm Not Sure I Can Forgive Them.” It has been featured by many media outlets, most notably Cosmopolitan. The article conveys a sentiment that many Clinton supporters have embraced. It is a desire to banish any Trump supporters from their lives, even if they are family members. Some may have seen a harsh Facebook status such as, “If you voted for Trump, Stein, or Johnson, don’t talk to me ever again.” The writer of the aforementioned article did not have family members who voted for Trump; instead, her Republican family members used the write-in option on their ballots or abstained from voting altogether because they refused to support Hillary. Despite this, the writer still describes her family’s actions as unforgivable, a view that aligns with many who used social media to vent their anger after the election. This is not the way to move forward. With all the talk surrounding human rights and acceptance during this election cycle, it is imperative now, more than ever before, for us to unite as a country. If we, those upset with the election, are truly looking for repair, unity, and acceptance in the US, we cannot exclude Trump supporters from our lives.
My hometown best friend voted for Trump, and while it certainly does not make me happy, I refuse to feed into the tempting mentality that I should cast her out of my life. We met in the 6th grade, a time when the only opinions we had were on the rights of kids to have recess. We grew up together, our parents and siblings became friends with each other, and she helped me through some very tough times in my life. We never classified ourselves based on political views.
It was not until high school that I learned she was a Republican, and it was not until the summer before our senior year that I learned she was a Trump supporter. I suspect her views, like many young voters, are influenced by her parents’ political outlooks. I also suspect she viewed her alignment with the Republican Party as a precursor to voting for Trump once he became the party candidate. Regardless of the origin of her vote, our friendship continued because I refused to throw six years of friendship away on political differences and party politics.
We naturally spent 2015 and 2016 arguing over political views. When Trump won the presidency, I knew that it was what she wanted. However, my friend was not alone in voting for Trump. While I am upset by the election results and disgusted by the idea of a Trump-controlled future, I am not going to dwell on the past and the ways in which Hillary could have won. Rather, I will continue to express my side of politics to my best friend and try to explain my views on human rights and the ways in which Trump has shown himself to be a setback to the progress the country has made in regards to these rights. I will make it my job to talk to her about different ideas and human rights issues that she has probably not been exposed to in our small, homogeneous town. I will also speak my mind when she says something I do not necessarily agree with. While I could not sway her decision to vote for Trump, I feel content in my everyday attempts to expose her to a different point of view, because it is my job—as well as the job of all those upset by the outcome of the election—to express our views to those whose views differ from ours. In addition to exposing her to my side of the political spectrum, she also lets me know her opinion on political issues. Having a conversation about our conflicting views is the only way we can reach some sort of common ground as a country.
Despite my thoughts on Trump, her vote does not take away from the kind heart I know she has and the unwavering support she has given me throughout our friendship. I don’t believe she cast her ballot in a hateful crusade against certain groups of Americans, and I do not think she is a bad person. I think that she is a young voter, new to the Republican Party, navigating modern politics the way she felt she should. Instead of alienating ourselves from those who voted differently from us and perpetuating our existence inside political bubbles, we must use this election as a wakeup call to speak with the millions of people in America who think differently from us liberals. We are never going to truly unite as an American people if we stay on opposite sides of the aisle, refusing to acknowledge the existence and the views of the other half. All Americans have to embrace their friends, coworkers, and family members that voted differently from them, and continue to speak their minds in the hopes that someday, we will hear each other.