Today, people could assume that differences in politics, race, or age might make it impossible to co-exist. Not co-exist in the literal sense, but co-exist by functioning together in society or communicating effectively. Politics and culture are at a flash point. The presidential election that is drawing near has people feeling like they can only choose one of two camps.
Echoing and coming to agreement recently with Deacon Bryant Crowder, I have conceded we must move beyond politics this year. Partisan bomb throwing must end. I have spent the greater half of the last 15 years (and more) disagreeing with Deacon Crowder on politics.
Through the Obama years, I was critical of many policies of the Obama doctrine. The Deacon and I had a fierce argument once, when Deacon Crowder suggested I did not vote for Obama because I was uncomfortable with black man in power. I was angered by this, and quickly defended myself by pointing to my US Senate vote for Mr. Alan Keyes (in that Senate race).
But upon reflection, he did not say “Chris, you are racist”, he simply stated that it may have subconsciously made me feel uncomfortable. The Keyes defense should stand but it was clear in that election that from a racial politics standpoint, then-senate candidate Obama was a rising political player in Chicago, my hometown.
During his presidency, I did find myself criticizing him more harshly than previous presidents. Was it due to deep-seated, unconscious bias or did I have legitimate qualms with his policy that were so far removed from other Democrats who preceded him?
I met President Obama twice during the early years of my lobbying career, and as his presidency went on – I found myself liking him more, while still being guarded about some of his political themes. I think we all have internal biases. Deacon Crowder and I have strongly held differing, partisan preferences but have always seemed to agree on respecting each other.
In 2020, that is rare. He hates Trump (or at least strongly dislikes him). I think President Trump has delivered big on key issues and stylistically – have stuck with him. However, it needs to stop. Petty and endless personal insults and boasting about job numbers while people are sick and dying is something which the president could drastically improve.
The point though remains, Deacon Crowder and I don’t have to arrive at a policy agreement. We can hear each other, and try to have a kind (and often challenging conversation) as we continue on our own personal journeys and closer to Election Day in what will be a tense year, but no matter the outcome – the Deacon and I will remain friends and continue to respectfully disagree with one another for another election cycle. This is the hope for the rest of the American electorate as well – for all of us to just hear each other out and respect our differences, because in the end, THAT is what makes America great.
Christopher Neiweem is an political writer, tech lobbyist, small business owner, and Iraq War Veteran that advises companies on how to navigate the federal government and regulatory challenges of disrupting the status quo.
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