No, we can’t agree to disagree

There was a time when I had friends with very different political beliefs. Of course! It would be narrow-minded and dogmatic to exclude people simply because we vote differently. Right?

And this worked because, in theory, we all wanted people to find good employment, have opportunities, be treated fairly. Our hearts were in the right place, we simply had different ideas about what policies and systems would achieve those goals. Remember “compassionate conservatism”? In my earliest voting years I identified as a Republican so I understood both sides as well as the middle.

Times have changed. And I’ve opened my eyes. I don’t see compassion. I see intentional, inhumane cruelty at worst, willful ignorance at best. I hear people say they value fairness yet don’t actually believe anything is unfair so there’s nothing to fix. (Don’t get me started on the idea that it’s white Christians who are being treated unfairly.) I see an iceberg of systemic racism — not to mention sexism, ableism, transphobia, xenophobia — I had only allowed myself to see the tip of previously. I see people doubling down on racism and inciting hate and violence. I see selfishness, venality, and flat-out lying on a scale I could never have imagined. I hear language being so misused that nothing means anything, up is down.

No amount of political cynicism has prepared me for this moment. Even though I’ve been telling a version of this story for close to 20 years! It just keeps getting worse and that keeps surprising me. Clearly, I am not a very good cynic.

So, no, if you identify with this Republican Party — and particularly with this President — then we are not compatible as humans. It’s not a difference in politics, it’s a fundamental difference in character and ethics. Our moral compasses point in different directions, and that’s not something to be celebrated or even set aside.