During the Vice Presidential debate, I was making cookies.
Apparently that’s now what I do during debates. I like to think it keeps my blood pressure down.
I’m not sure it worked this time.
In the midst of cookie making (straight-up chocolate chip after last time’s coconut experiment) and seething, I received a Direct Message via Facebook from a friend — actually more of an acquaintance but someone I have enormous respect for and enjoy talking to whenever we run into each other.
She informed me of the negative impact that the Affordable Care Act had on her family. And how she did much better in the 2019 economy than she did four years ago.
At first, I thought it was a robo-hack or something.
She then asked me not to belittle those who believe differently than I do about our political choices.
Once I accepted that this was actually real (I did not know anything previously about her political persuasion but I think we all make assumptions about people we like), I responded that the Affordable Care Act was a compromise.
And I wrote that I was sorry that it impacted her so badly.
And that’s the truth. We forget how much of a wrestling match it was to get the Act passed. It wasn’t anyone’s ideal. And, the truth is, while it helped many, it also had a negative impact on others. In her case, there was a strong negative impact.
But, I added, that wasn’t enough to make me support a madman.
I asked her what she was specifically objecting to in my posts.
She said my posts about Mike Pence were making her dislike me and she didn’t want to dislike me. He was a friend of friends of hers. Nice guy, apparently.
(I had recently posted that Mike Pence had tested negative for personality. Admittedly, a mild, Jay Leno-esque softball joke. Other times I had been more strident about the ways in which his worldview were a threat to the LGBTQ+ Americans and those who believe they deserve equality.)
(And his bashing of “Mulan.” There was that.)
I shared that he wants to take away the rights of people I love. (Plus, of course, people I don’t know.) I said how awful he is for women as well. And terrible for the country (I mean, he was supposed to be head of the COVID019 task force and, well, we know how well that’s working out).
I suggested she unfriend me if she didn’t want to hear any of that.
“Best Black employment ever,” she responded.
“Best Hispanic employment ever,” she followed.
With the cookies ready to go in the oven and trying to listen to the back-and-forthing of Pence and Harris, I resorted to short hand. I mentioned the racism of this administrations key characters. I brought up the Central Park 5. (I know, not Pence, but he’s the guy’s right hand man.)
She said I was wasting her time. He saved her career.
I said I was glad for her but he betrayed my country.
She said Pence is an “awesome man.”
I acknowledged that some people believe that. I added that I believe he is a threat to our country.
She brought up her family’s medical issues again. I asked her not to push me to bring up what happened to my family and what would have happened without the ACA.
She said this administration is better for the environment.
I told her she was scaring me.
She asked me if I now wanted to be a jerk.
You know how these things can go. The cookies were in the oven, though. And there was some downtime.
At this point, she suggested we just end the conversation. I could have left it at that.
I said that was her call. But then I went on, expressing my regret that she could not see these men for the threat they are to the country, specifically noting LGBTQ+, women, and those with preexisting medical conditions.
She said my posts often speak out for victims but wanted me to know there are “victims who are not on your side” and that there are probably “more working people that would be against you.”
Then, okay, I rambled a bit.
I wrote that that was a shame.
That she is correct about there being many working people who think differently and that that is part of what has disturbed me about the last four years.
It shows, I wrote, “that people will excuse an admitted pussy grabber with zero integrity partnered with someone who wants to take away marriage rights for people I love… more money going to the super wealthy…Zero respect for science. So many things wrong with this man and yet people vote for him. It’s terrifying.”
And, I added, that the support he gets from ordinary people scares me more than the man himself.
She responded with comments about threats from “the left” on social media to those who express any contrary view.
I corrected her to say “some on the left.” Because, yes, that happens. There are extremists.
She wanted me to reflect on the challenges she faced during the previous administration.
I wrote: “No matter what happened to you, you are actively supporting a horrible racist who is out to make the rich richer. That’s up to you.”
Not the most sensitive or nuanced response, but the cookies needed to get out of the oven.
Then I misunderstood a statement she made. I thought she was throwing a slur at Biden. Pronouns can be pesky at times.
When I read her response, I explained my mistake and apologized for that.
But that was the end of it. Haven’t heard from her since.
Speculation: What I mistakenly said was enough to solidify in her head that I am not the person she thought and hoped I was. That I really did have darkness in my heart and didn’t care about what happened to her.
So there it sits.
Truth is, it sucks to have the world working against you. It sucks when you work your ass off and the hole is getting deeper while you are trying to climb out. It sucks when you are responsible for a family and you don’t feel like you can make things work.
I get that. As with my conversation with her, I’m avoiding talking about my personal challenges here but, yes, I get that.
It truly does suck. And, COVID-19 aside, I have no doubt that the world is better for her right now than it was five or six years ago. And I think that’s true for many people (although not many that I know personally.)
However — and this may be a radical idea — I don’t think people should vote based on how things impact them personally.
Instead, how about asking:
What’s better for the country?
What’s better for the world?
What helps shape this place into a future that I want to see for people who are going to exist long after I am gone and my problems (and me) are forgotten?
That’s how I’m going to vote.
P.S. The cookies came out okay. The Vice Presidential debate came out pretty much how I expected. Not sure how the acquaintanceship is going to turn out.
P.P.S. Just checked. She unfriended me.