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I voted for Obama. Twice. When he won in 2008, I danced in the street.
Personally there was nothing more satisfying than seeing the back of George W. and the beginning of a new era. When 2016 comes around, I will vote for Hillary, or Bernie, or whoever is on the Democratic ticket, as I’ve done every year of my life since I turned 18.
Pretty much all of my friends feel the same way, and there’s nothing I love more than a raucous dinner party where we skewer our current Republican of choice. (Lately, of course, it’s been Trump).
I have dated a lot. In fact, I’m an expert. My first serious boyfriend was in college, and it goes without saying our politics were in sync. It was the late 90s, he was in a straight-edge punk band and we were both vegan.
We traveled to India together. Horrified that so many people lived in poverty, we talked endlessly about how we could help solve the world’s inequality. What could we do to make things better?
He was my first real love, but we broke up eventually, and post-college I had a string of boyfriends. Some of them memorable, some of them utterly forgettable. But without exception they all shared my politics.
As I matured, my politics mellowed. I gave up my veganism. I became more pragmatic, but I didn’t give up supporting progressive causes. They may not always save the world, but good policy can sure make life better for the sick, the poor and the disadvantaged.
If I’m being honest, perhaps I would admit that I got a little tired of the “progressive” guys I was dating. There was a lot of talk, but often I found my boyfriends had trouble walking the walk. I still seemed to be doing the housework. On a few occasions I was even covering the rent while my boyfriends pursued their unrealistic dreams (bands, the great American novel etc). In one extreme case, a professed male feminist cheated on me with a much younger woman.
That’s not to say all of these men were bad. I loved many of them and had a great time with many more. But my world turned upside down when I fell for someone I never would have expected.
I met Todd at a conference I was attending. He was handsome, well-dressed, whip-smart, and had a wicked sense of humor. We hit it off immediately. He told me I was glamorous and looked like a young Bette Davis, then asked me on a date within 10 minutes. I was smitten; he loved classic movies just like me!
On our first date he took me to a very expensive restaurant. He chatted with the waiter about wine, he wore a suit and he definitely knew how to treat a woman.
This was a million miles away from the dates I was used to: cheap Mexican or a pizza and then to a bar for a glass of mediocre wine. Finally I’d met a real man. And yet there was a hitch—a big one.
On our third date, we eventually got around to politics. We’d skirted the subject before, but not in any detail. Of course, I started off on the usual tangent and expected Todd to play along. He didn’t.
Moments later we were in a heated debate, initially about healthcare but quickly escalating into other areas. I felt my fantasy slipping away. I was confronted with a cold, hard reality: The man I was falling in love with was a Republican.
Our argument continued out onto the street and into the cab, and all the way to my apartment. Then something weird happened. Instead of kicking me out of the cab and tearing off in a rage, Todd said coolly and calmly, “Aren’t you going to invite me up?”
What followed was the best sex of my life up to that point. Somehow the political tension between us had transformed into sexual tension. I was hooked.
We might disagree on guns, Obamacare, Hillary, immigration, the justification for the Iraq war and too many other topics to mention, but who wants a partner who agrees with them on everything? Consensus can be boring, serious debate can be exhilarating.
I’m constantly on my toes with Todd, something I’ve never felt before. And, I like to think I keep him constantly on his toes.
Let me be honest, Todd’s not a raving Tea Party lunatic and he hates Trump (“the idiot”), his philosophy is a little more libertarian than mainstream republicans, and he’s pro-choice (a pro-life stance might be one of the few things I wouldn’t be able to accept). That said, he has always voted Republican, and he’s never warmed up to a Democrat, no matter how hawkish.
I’m not saying our relationship is perfect, especially in the lead-up to an election. And it’s not like we agree on everything outside of politics either: We’ve argued endlessly about remodeling the house, he hates spicy food while I love it, and while we both love classic movies, we often disagree on the modern ones.
But for me, love is about overcoming our petty differences. While we may disagree on individual political issues, there is something deeper that connects us. We both have faith in the Constitution, and trust the American people to make the right decision, democratically.
In fact, in these times, where tragic events are spun with a political interpretation while they are still unfolding on our television screens, I feel the world could learn something from our relationship. Perhaps we could benefit from putting aside our petty political partisanships to focus on the bigger issues.
When I talk like this, it’s obvious that there is still a part of me that is a little idealistic, that wants to save the world. But what’s wrong with wanting a little less hate in the world, and a little more love? Even for those that you disagree with.