A Whole & Whole Country

Posted today, but written November 5, 2018 and shared on Facebook.

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I spent last Thursday campaigning for my friend Kristen Powers near a polling place in Alamance County, North Carolina. The past week had broken my heart with three different hate crimes, and so Thursday morning I was fired up. Angry. Ready to defeat. the. enemy. And then...

I got to the group of canvassers on the sidewalk and realized too late I'd forgotten to eat breakfast. I stood there with my coat on, really hungry but trying to ignore it, just talking to the other Democrats because I was nervous to break the ice outside of our group. After an hour, I felt a tap on my shoulder. To my surprise, it was an older man who'd been standing behind me, and was wearing a bright red "Proud Republican" sticker on his chest. "Want any peanuts?"

I thanked him immediately and over the next three hours of my shift, talked with him and nearly all of his friends who had come to canvass with him. The ones who stuck with me the most were the mothers of two Republican women running for office in the same county as my friend Kristen. I thought about the women who risked their lives 100 years ago to earn us each the right to vote; how proud they would be that there are now enough women running, even in the rural South, that we actually afford to compete with each other. I told both of those moms that I admired their daughters for running and for being role models for me. I admired the moms themselves for standing for hours on the sidewalk to support their daughters. They reminded me of my own moms.

What has stuck with me days later though is not that I admired these women. It's that I really liked them.

I can't help but hope their daughters win their races, as long as my friend wins hers, too. It might set back the policies I believe in to hope that, and I don't take that lightly. I know my liking a candidate's family doesn't erase our important disagreements, and the stakes in this election are so, so high. But I liked those women, and I trusted them, and they listened to me without pretense, and I believe we can work together as neighbors. I'm still angry, and still heartbroken, and still fired up, but I know those women and their daughters aren't the enemy. It would be much easier if I believed they were.

Here’s what I think Kristen knew all along: winning an election is difficult, but it's simple. Solving problems with people who disagree with you on how to prioritize those problems and address them -- without forgetting you're all ultimately on the same team -- is even more difficult, and it's really complicated. Thinking about trying to work with those Republican women's daughters to help our community despite our stark differences, no matter who wins, makes my head spin. But that possibility also gives me hope. Because if we actually can listen to each other and work together, then many people will lose elections tomorrow, but no one will be defeated.

Vote tomorrow. Vote for people you trust. Vote for people who listen. But no matter what happens on Tuesday, show up on Wednesday. Share your peanuts. We've got work to do. 🇺🇸