This is a troubling year for the American people. In addition to struggling through a pandemic, racial unrest, economic depression and climate disaster, these dis-United States of America are more divided than at any time since the Civil War (1861-1865). Both sides view the upcoming elections in apocalyptic terms, as tyranny or anarchy will take over if our opponents prevail. Many of us fear that our country will descend into a second civil war, no matter which party wins the presidency. Families are divided and friendships are broken as both sides retreat to their corners, ready to fight.
As a progressive Democrat who vehemently dislikes Donald Trump and all that he has done, I am obviously biased. But I try my best to maintain personal ties across the great divide. Unlike some of my friends who grew up as part of liberal families, I was raised in a conservative household. Like most Cuban-American families, my folks came to this country to escape Cuba’s socialist revolution. I grew up in a community which feared social reforms or liberal programs as gateways to Communism. Many Cuban-Americans, like many Venezuelan-Americans or Nicaraguan-Americans after them, became the backbone of the Republican Party in Miami-Dade County. To this day most of my blood relatives are registered Republicans and staunch Trump supporters. Despite all this, I forged my own political path. Even so, I still maintain good relations with my relatives, though we agree to disagree. The same goes for some gay Cuban-Americans with whom I sometimes socialize.
Though most of my friends and acquaintances are progressive Democrats, I still have ties with people whose political views are vastly different than mine. One of my oldest friends is Andy Eddy, with whom I worked in the past and who remains active in Broward County’s Log Cabin Republican club. Though I am shocked that the Log Cabin club endorsed Trump despite his Administration’s policies against our community, I still look forward to working with Eddy in pursuit of goals that we agree on. In dealing with friends who happen to be Republican or Conservative, I try to deal with them as friends and not political adversaries; and try to avoid politics whenever I am with them. Most notably, my boyfriend Ron Farago is a registered Libertarian; a fact that leads to some political discussions but is something that I can live with. At least, when it comes to the general elections, Ron takes my advice and votes for the candidates that I recommend.
Before the first American Civil War divided our nation, political parties collapsed, and Protestant denominations split between northern and southern branches. Today’s Red America and Blue America are likewise divided in many ways, encouraged by a president who does not care for anyone except his base. Though I must remain true to my beliefs, I hope to remain friends with people who do not share those views.