When Your Loved Ones
Voted the Other Way
A video worth watching by the whole family,
lasting eleven and a half minutes, best followed by
open and honest discussion. See discussion questions below.
By MARGARET CHEATHAM WILLIAMS, ALEXANDRA GARCIA and TAIGE JENSEN | Jan. 22, 2017 | 11:28
We asked parents and children who voted for opposing candidates to discuss their hopes and fears for the country — and for each other — over the course of the next four years.
First, a confession.
There’s something in me that doesn’t want dialogue. Those on the other side are, after all, wrong. Their hearts are not evil, I don’t think. But they are confused and should know better. I just want to sigh.
I want to watch the television shows that confirm my convictions; share Facebook feeds that show how evil the other side is; and hang out with people who agree with me. I want to gloat in whatever small victories come my political way, and commiserate with others of like mind when matters go their way. When their side loses I am happy and feel vindicated, just like the partisans in Washington. Just like my president, I like to win.
I don’t mind talking with my loved ones about neutral subjects: food, music, sports, movies, children, and daily life. We can laugh together and share in each other's sufferings. But I don’t want to talk about electoral politics. And they don't want to talk about politics with me, either.
And yet this really isn’t working, because the politics are actually as important to my loved ones as to me. It's avoiding the elephant in the room for the sake of a false harmony. They, too, have something invested, rationally and emotionally, in politics. These issues matter to them. If we are to be family, shouldn't we talk and be honest?
The only option I can see is to talk about politics in a relaxed environment and do some listening, without requiring that we leave our convictions behind. As a family we are not used to this. It will be new for us.
You might think I’m saying this as someone who voted for Hillary or who wishes Sanders had gotten the nomination. No, I am saying this as a Trump supporter. I am tired of not listening to my loved ones, even as I want them to listen to me. I'm tired of my bubble.
A friend offers a proposal. She sent me the video produced by the New York Times called When Your Loved Ones Voted the Other Way. It includes telephone calls between family members on both sides. She says that I should take my laptop to a family gathering, view it together, and talk about it for say, an hour. It can be a first step in a healthier relation to inter-familial politics. I’m doing it, and bringing some questions with me:
Now, admittedly, I still wish members of my family would see things my way. I still sigh when I hear them talk. I still think they are wrong. We can get along even as we disagree. But something's got to give, and this is worth a try.
There's some power in it. I think they call it relational power: or the power of relationships. It's different from "inside your bubble" power. That comes from only talking to yourself and others like you. I'm ready to break out of the bubble. There's really no option.
Please pray for me,
Eleanor is fictional: she is a character created by Jay McDaniel. Nevertheless, there are many like her on both sides and all sides. The key is relational power. From a Christian perspective it is the very power seen in Jesus. It takes us into dialogue and the mutual transformation that comes from it. In some ways dialogue with family members who voted the other way is much more difficult than inter-religious dialogue. Relational power is key to both. (Jay McDaniel)