Yes, I still have conservative friends (and relatives). Lots of them. A fair number voted for Trump and some of them still support him. They aren’t horrible people, but I do think they have made a horrible mistake. I’m angry with them quite a bit these days, but I’ll probably get over it eventually. Friends are a precious resource, and I don’t think I can afford to lose them permanently because they have been led astray by lies and propaganda. I continue to cling to hope that they will eventually realize how much they have been mislead and come to their senses.
Like many of you, I have trouble talking about many things in the news, things that are important to me, with my conservative friends these days. So we talk about family, or sports (so long as it’s not about players kneeling in the NFL), or funny things that happened at work, or our favorite books or TV shows. Safe topics, carefully chosen to avoid driving the wedge that has insinuated itself between us any deeper.
That is frustrating, but not altogether a bad thing. I’m an optimistic person by nature, and I do believe that eventually our country will emerge from this dark cloud we are all living under. This national nightmare that is driving us apart. When that happens, we will need to rediscover and re-emphasize all the things that bind us together as Americans. We will need to heal. And if that means we have to avoid discussing important issues of the day for a while with people we violently disagree with but still care for, in order to keep from opening gaping wounds even deeper, well I can suck it up and do that.
However, in preparation for better days to come, days when we can more openly discuss our disagreements, here are some questions I’d love my conservative friends to think about. I’d ask them to consider them and answer them thoughtfully and as honestly as they can, then write those answers down and put them aside somewhere safe. Let ten years pass, along with the passions and partisanship of this particular political moment, and then look at the questions again, and see if you would still answer them the same way, or if the passage of time, the cooling of partisanship and the judgment of history changed how you would answer them.
My suspicion is that may of my conservative friends would answer much differently in ten years, and might even be embarrassed by the answers they give now. I’ll bet a nice dinner out with any of my conservative friends willing to take this challenge.
So here’s my list of questions:
- Does it bother you that Donald Trump lies so often? If not, why?
- Does it bother you that the Republican Party has become largely a whites-only party? If not, why?
- Do President Trump’s bullying and outrageous tweets bother you, and if so, why isn’t that enough to make you change your support of him?
- Do you truly believe that white conservative men suffer more prejudice in America than minorities and women?
- Do you believe that the environmental policies favored by the Trump Administration will leave the world a better place for your children and grandchildren?
- Does it bother you that Trump is more popular and has better relations with dictators around the world, rather than other democracies, our traditional allies?
- Does it bother you when he attacks the press, and anyone else who criticizes him, and threatens retaliation for that criticism?
- Do you think character matters in a President? If so, how do you square that with support for Trump? If not, did you also believe it did not matter when Bill Clinton was president?
- Who do you believe was treated more unfairly, Merrick Garland or Brett Kavanaugh?
- Do the optics of a man accused of sexual assault appointing another man accused of sexual assault to a lifelong position of considerable power bother you?
- Does it bother you that he has been accused of financial fraud many times and still refuses to release his tax returns? If not, why?
- Do you believe racial discrimination remains a major problem in this country? If so, do you think Trump has helped or made things worse? If not, what is your basis for saying so?
And a few more for those conservatives who are Christian:
13. Why do you believe abortion and homosexuality are central issues for Christianity, above all issues that Christ himself emphasized?
14. Do you believe Trump’s conversion to Christianity was real? If so, give examples in his behavior of how salvation has changed him. If not, does this bother you?
15. Does his unapologetic and constant un-Christian behavior bother you? If so, how do you justify continued political support for him?