The dinner conversation was light and fun, sharing jokes and stories of work, until my dad turned to me.
“Richelle, you’re smart in so many ways, but you’re also naïve when it comes to politics.”
I braced myself. This wasn’t my first rodeo with my ultra-conservative father. I let him unspool for a few minutes while my mind wandered. Good food at the restaurant. Interesting décor. I need to do a load of laundry when I get home and study spelling words with my son. I circled my attention back for a brief check in.
The loop continued. I’ve heard it before. He just doesn’t understand how someone who cares for her family, who wants the best for her children, could support liberal policies and Democratic candidates. At a break in his words, I interrupted.
“So I’m really excited about our vacation this summer…” I could tell he wanted more persuasion time, but he gamely moved into safe conversation territory, and we enjoyed the rest of our evening.
I steamed a bit on the way home. How can he respect me in my vocations as daughter, mother, writer, wife, volunteer, but be so dismissive of my political opinions? Does he think that I embrace a liberal stance with whimsy when I’m decidedly independent and assertive in other areas of my life? Ugh. Grrr. Sizzle. And other onomatopoeia words that express frustration.
And yet, if I’m honest, I perform some of the same calculations as I scroll through my social media channels. I divide folks into us and them based on the memes they post, the political ads they share. Just this morning, I mentally moved a college friend from the ‘us’ to ‘them’ column when I saw she went to a Trump rally. Before I could catch myself, I thought, “She’s smarter than that. She’s naïve when it comes to politics.”