I’m headed to Cleveland on the eve of the Republican National Convention, which months ago I swore to avoid at all costs. Hosting the most volatile convention with the worst candidates since the 1960s is a very Cleveland thing to happen to Cleveland. Ohioans proved last month that we can gather in hoards of millions without incident, to celebrate. The RNC is different: it’s an incredibly scary prospect to have thousands of NRA supporters flock to our city in the midst of terrorist attacks and civic upheaval. With a headliner who spouts hate for women, hate for People of Color, hate for transgendered people, and hate for Muslims at every turn, it’s even more unsettling.
I’m a bleeding-heart liberal, according to the grey-faced men in congress. I support Planned Parenthood, the right for a woman to choose what to do with her body and any fetuses inside it. I believe love is love. I say, “Black Lives Matter.” I want our borders to be more free and honor the dream of our immigrant ancestors. A Christian, I don’t want religion anywhere near our government. Native Americans deserve sovereignty and a hefty government apology. I vote to support education, art and the parks. I know that there are Muslim Americans who love and serve this country. I love the United States, while realizing our history has caused a deeply flawed present. For me, none of these are political opinions. These are my truths. There’s no second clause, addendum or asterisk. Human is human; all humans deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, in society and in judiciary process.
It is therefore incredibly hard for me to hear the other side of any of these arguments because I firmly believe they are not arguments; they are fact.
Friends and family have frequently reminded me that it’s hypocritical to so thoroughly disrespect the Conservative Republican who claims, “Jesus said marriage was between a man and a woman, so no gays here!” or “ALL Lives Matter.” Their point was that if I truly thought all humans deserve respect and dignity, than didn’t these opinions deserve to be heard? Don’t they simply come from a different background? Maybe they didn’t have my privileged education and access to information. My answer was always: they deserve respect until their actions and beliefs infringe on the rights and dignity of others.
I was not willing to listen.
It’s hard for me to reconcile the idea that people I like and know disagree with a lot of the fundamental points of my belief that human is human. Whether religious or experiential, they might know in their hearts that I am wrong.
The movement led by Donald Trump and the Tea Party has not only radicalized a group that used to stand for small government and the underdog, but it also radicalized me. Just as Trump hates, and his followers appear to hate, I have turned to hate them. I’m disgusted by Donald Trump; the ferocity of his followers churns my stomach. I don’t think every conservative or typical, sane, Republican agrees with the hate coming out of the GOP. That, I have finally realized, is the point. Conservatives are all around me, and most of them aren’t bad people. After all, human is human.
In high school, my government teacher was a Republican; I was in her class when President Obama was elected the first time. She is intelligent, dedicated, and kind. Obviously, she didn’t force her opinions on her classes, just look at me now! My best friend’s parents are conservative; they’re compassionate, hardworking, and raised one of the most liberal people I know. My own husband is part of the largest military on earth and doubts that guns are the problem, rather, it’s the people behind the guns.
My truths won’t change. I still think the Republican Party at large is wrong and their policies are dangerous. To perpetuate the hate, though, is also wrong. Human is human, and Republicans are human too.