Is Interpolitical Dating Dead?
There was a time in which the most risqué thing you could do in dating was to go out with someone from a different race or religion. It was scandalous for a Catholic to date a Jew. It was an outrage for a black man to date a white woman. Hell, not more than a decade ago open gay and lesbian dating spelled trouble for the couples involved.
This all seems like ancient history. No one bats an eye if you want are out with someone who happens to be a few shades lighter or darker than you or if you are an out gay man who dates openly. But to date a Republican if you are a Democrat or to date a Democrat if you are a Republican you must prepare for Armageddon; you must brace yourself to cut off all contact with family and friends, and to be shamed and shouted at by the same.
What divides America most is politics. And that is not to say that differences on race, gender, and LGBT rights do not play a large part in defining the positions of each side. But even those who support policies that are in essence bigoted and discriminatory would not express outright hatred for any particular minority group. It is different with political parties. It is perfectly acceptable to express disdain and contempt for the other side; and it is hard not to give into a feeling of genuine rage and disgust at what they stand for.
Much has been made of the phenomenon of tribal politics, and until recently I did not pay much attention to it. Politics is inherently divisive. People have different values and opinions on the nature and priorities of government. But these differences used to be at the margins: a little more money for this and a little less spending on that.
Today, most political debate has nothing at all to do with ideas and policies. Nor does it involve a heated exchange of insults, as was the case in the late 90s and early 00s. Political discussion in the current environment is about who can get away with telling the most lies—it is about who can most excel at misrepresenting the factual relations of the world.
Truth be told, the systematic lying comes mostly from one side. Since Trump came to power many Republicans have been nudged against their will into lying about or perpetuating lies about nearly everything. Please take note: I’m not calling all Republicans liars; I’m only saying that to defend their party and the president many of the more partisan members of that party have found it necessary to play fast and loose with facts.
This makes interpolitical dating difficult. But is it impossible? Is interpolitical dating dead?
No. Partisan politics, no matter the size of the chasm between the parties, cannot stop passion. And you should not deny your passion because the person you want is on the other side of the political divide.
Let me explain through illustration.
Let’s say you meet a nice, lovely, great looking, sweet little thing at work or while out with friends. You get to talking about your respective jobs and interests and families. Finally, the conversation moves toward politics, and you discover that she is on the other side. What will you do? Will you really break away from a girl you like because she’s a Democrat and you’re a Republican or vice versa?
This is a bad idea for one simple reason: you cannot possibly know all that a person thinks about a particular subject on one, two, or even three dates. It is especially important to remember this when it comes to Trump supporters, who come in for a great deal of abuse. Let me give you an example to further demonstrate what I mean.
I met a very pretty girl the other day who was very nice and pleasant and well-spoken. It turns out she voted for Trump. I was ready to rain down rhetorical fire on her until she told me her reason for doing so.
She is an anti-theist like me, and she voted for Trump because she is tired of the self-censorship that people are expected to exercise when it comes to Islam. She is not anti-Muslim; she just believes that Islam should be as open to criticism and scrutiny as every other religion. Trump, in her view, was the only candidate willing to buck political correctness and speak freely on the subject.
Now I cannot even go next door to agreeing with her action, but I do sympathize with her general position. And that really is the point. By moving pass the party label of the person you want to date you may find more areas of agreement than you thought.
Even on some of the hottest issues, e.g. abortion, same-sex marriage, and guns, your crush may not conform to the stereotype that is in your mind. Being for choice does not mean the person is any less interested than you in reducing and eliminating abortions. Being for gun control does not mean the person is against gun ownership.
To bottle up your passion because of party affiliation is about the most ridiculous thing you can do. It is in any case futile because it will come out—your desire and affection will win the day. So, it is best that you look past the partisan label and get to know what the person really thinks and how they really feel.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.