Repairing The Divide

By Andrew Witzel

Today was the day I finally realized just how divided the United States has actually become. I try to see the best in people in all situations and can dismiss a lot of negativity if it’s directed at me.

One particular person I’ve followed for a while now, who is an admitted conservative and is very much pro-Trump, posted a piece that really dug in deep and made me literally stop and think for a while before I decided to respond. I actually contemplated just moving on and not responding as I have on so many of his posts, but this one had an edge I couldn’t ignore. So, I responded, knowing full well that I’d most likely be labeled an apologist or, to use his term of endearment, a “Libtard.”

In the past, I would have shared the volley of responses with you, the reader; I decided not to in this case. It’s not for any particular reason, as in it was mean or overly negative, it just isn’t necessary to make the point I’m attempting to convey. All the times we have disagreed, it has been on positive terms and we’ve always reached the point where we agreed we were too far apart on our views to ever reach a common ground.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying here, that really is the goal of having a spirited discussion with someone. When two people listen to each other, the intelligent person will try to listen for anything that they agree with. It’s a two-way street, or at least, it’s supposed to be. An exercise in give and take, the average person will find a common thread and start to build on that thread until more facts are presented, discussed and finally understood.

I wish I could say that this latest discussion ended like that, but I wasn’t being heard. There were 12 responses in total between the two of us and it ended with a wave of articles that supported his position without actually ever seeing it from my side. In 99% of the situations where I’m on one side, and the other person is opposite, I always try to see it from their perspective.

I’m a mix of moderate and liberal, he is a die-hard and lifelong conservative. I’m mostly #NeverTrump, he is completely #AlwaysTrump. We couldn’t be any more different if we tried. In all the months I’ve followed him, read his posts, survived through his angry blow-ups where he deletes his blog and starts it over again, I’ve always stuck by and respected his positions. Today was the first day that I realized that he actually didn’t respect mine. I can pontificate for hours on why I think this is the case, but I won’t. You can thank me later.

As with most of the country that is seeing this kind of divisiveness play out all around them with family, friends and co-workers it’s further pushing all of us so far apart that we no longer have healthy and beneficial debates about politics. I refuse to let the divide turn me into someone who doesn’t listen to other people. I refuse to let myself get to a point where I start to define who I associate with based on their political positions and views.

There is always going to be something we disagree on, that’s why our country works so well, but we’re losing the ability to see other points of view because we’ve become blind and deaf to each other. I almost got to that point today and had to end with “I can no longer comment on this topic.” We all need to do better.  We all need to start listening.


  1. Wm. G. McAdoo once noted, “It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.”

    Frankly, I’ve had to abandon hope of enlightening people who have no issue with the congenital liar’s endless lies, and frequently spout those lies in “proof” of arguments.

  2. You make some very good points, but unsure how “#NeverTrump” can lead to bringing people together. Isn’t that like saying “I will never agree with you, but I will listen”. Where is the positive construct? I know several #alwaystrump and libtard speaking people. I generally just ignore them and do not engage in dialogue, knowing it does not good. But, there are many “I voted for Trump” conservative/moderates with a hint of social liberal leaning tendencies. They voted for Trump for a specific reason, not agreeing with everything. How can a #NeverTrump person have a conversation with that group and bridge the divide? Just trying to understand.

    1. Thanks for commenting. You have some good questions here and I’ll try to elaborate a little. I use the #NeverTrump as more of a description of where I lean politically and perhaps I could have used a more descriptive term than something that’s been tossed around media for the last few months. My views, positions, etc. do not generally align with Trump’s, my writing shows that. I didn’t support him as a candidate, I didn’t vote for him and I’ll most likely have issues with most of what he puts forth over the next four years; that is the spririt of my use of #NeverTrump.

      As I’m moderate/liberal leaning, I will read more conservative/right leaning authors on purpose. By doing this, and holding honest dialogue with them, I’m able to start the process of bringing the conversation together. In my experience, usually in the first few comments or minutes of an in person conversation, I’ll know if it’s worth continuing a conversation or just listening and not offering my own positions or points. I certainly don’t walk around with a pin that tells people NeverTrump, as there are some positions I do agree with, however I’ll probably never vote for him. I hope I’ve helped you understand, happy to take the conversation further 🙂

  3. Yeah, I find that dissuading when you’ve got someone who says their views then (virtually) claps their hands over their ears and goes “lalalalalalalala.” Or ducks out of the convo after flooding your response with “proof.” Yeah, that would drive me nuts too. At least you tried. I’m in the same boat with people I know, so I just do my best not to say anything so as not to give them a soapbox. It’s family I can’t talk to–strangers are easier.

Share Your Thoughts?