I’m a liberal, so leftist that my views would align more w/the American Communist Party than the Democratic Party. I’m all about uniting against Trump and the horrible parts of his agenda, but I still don’t think it’s good practice to unfriend or shut out those who voted Trump.
I admit I have some personal bias in this stance. For one, my mom voted Trump. She explained her reasons and I don’t agree with them, but I find myself able to empathize and I’m able to have conversation with her about it. She’s not going to change her mind any time soon and neither will I, which can be disappointing to both of us, but it doesn’t mean for me that she can’t be a part of my life.
There is definitely a lot of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other kinds of bigotry and hate in what Trump has said and incited. That’s unacceptable. But I like to think that even the people who have done or said the most unacceptable things have worth as people who have potential to reflect on their actions and to have conversations with others. In my past job/internship experiences and in life in general, I’ve engaged in dialogues with those who spouted racist things, who’ve stolen from people, who was convicted and served time in prison for rape/assault, who admitted to me that they were part of a gang that killed. I don’t regret having listened to them, talked with them, and in some cases, having helped them out in their troubles.
I might be too much of a naive idealist, but I don’t think that we can aspire for a healthy democracy while cutting all ties to those who we see as having too dangerous and harmful of an ideology.
Ultimately I have to assume that a person had a reason for voting reason that is more complex and nuanced than the generalization that the person is a bigot. For that person, perhaps voting Trump was voting for the lesser evil between Trump and Hilary. Perhaps the person’s most important issue is the belief that government should not allow gay marriage and so cannot vote for the Democratic Party. Maybe the person believes that Muslims need to be screened out because this person thinks that Islam is a religion that can be used to fuel terrorism. I don’t agree with any of these reasons of course. I think any of these beliefs and stances are wrong but still I wouldn’t characterize them as horrible people. To me, they are misinformed, misguided, and have their priorities messed up (like how can gay marriage be a bigger issue than climate devastation or corporate welfare?) but their idealogy doesn’t make them less than human. I think it’s still possible to hear them out, still possible for them to hear me out, and we can still have a concersation with each other. I still beleive firmly that even with those who are of different opinion, conversation is the the must human thing that we do, and in a democracy, it’s the most powerful thing we can do.
I tend to label as racist or sexist ideas and actions and things; I try not to ascribe them on people. This is why I say that the policies of George W. Bush were racist but I refrain from saying that George W. Bush himself is a racist. He no doubt has a lot of racist thoughts and acts with a great degree of racist prejudice ingrained in him, but I don’t feel comfortable characterizing a whole person like that. To do so in my view is to dehumanize someone, and we humans are much more complex beings than that. An act or thought shouldn’t define a person. A person who’s stolen once should not be thought of as a thief. There is danger in seeing a person who was convicted of rape as a rapist. This form of identity politics really divides society, and in the long run, it will have far-reaching negative consequences that’ll be very dofficulty to heal from.
Respecting the humanity of someone that has dangerously and even harmfully different political/religious views is hard, but I think it necessary for society to function as an inclusive and vibrant democracy.