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I Don't Even Know You (How to Deal When a Loved One Supports the-Other-Candidate)

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 28/03/2016 Kasey Ferris

This has been an enormously distressing political year. Not only because a Franken-monster has somehow risen to be the lead candidate who will, in all likelihood, receive a major party's nomination, but more because I know and love a number of people who support this candidate -- if only in the form of 'At least this candidate is better than that candidate.'
It's not a secret that our options are not good when we have both political parties and independents feeling the need to proverbially choose their poison. In my very humble opinion, one poison is particularly more bitter, childish, hateful, and dangerous than the other, but it is what it is.
The distressing part, for me, is feeling in this political year as if I'm not even sure who my loved ones are anymore. How in the world could they consider supporting The-Other-Candidate, even if only for the purpose of not supporting the other? Don't I know these people better than that? Are they all closet racists, misogynists, xenophobes? Have I been completely blind for the entirety of our relationship?
But here's the thing -- I do know them. I know the loved ones who are kind, generous, open-hearted humans. I know the friends who sat with me while I cried, love my children as I do, celebrated the milestones in my life with me. I know which friends would give me the shirt off their back if I asked.
The disquietude I feel in not being able to consolidate those people as the same ones who would cast a ballot for someone I find morally and ethically reprehensible may be the same distress they feel about me... for the same reasons.
And does that make either of us any less kind, generous, loving people? Does it have to? In the grand scheme of things, must we all agree on everything in order to be friends? Is it feasible to think that the people I love and the reasons I love them -- reasons that have been proven to me time and again over decades -- will somehow change entirely on January 20, 2017? Feasible. But unlikely.
You may feel jaded, confused, even betrayed by people in your life who support The-Other-Candidate in some form. You may feel as if you don't know them at all. You may feel like you're seeing a side you don't necessarily love in the people you absolutely love. But here's the thing: No election -- this year or any year -- will change the foundational reasons you love the important people in your life. No election will change the fact that someone has been there for you, through thick and thin. No candidate will change how your loved one was just as excited as you about the birth of your new baby, your college graduation, you marriage, your big career jump. No election will change that your loved one held your hair when you drank too much at that party, or helped you bake cupcakes for your daughter's entire third-grade class, or talked you off the ledge when life was getting the best of you. No candidate, no election, will change these things...unless you allow them to change.
So maybe it's time to step back, take a breath, and make your vote count at the ballot box. Maybe it's time to not worry so much about things you cannot change (no matter how much you rant about the other candidate, no one's changing their mind at this point. All you're doing is alienating people...and perhaps making them dig their heels in a little deeper.) Maybe it's time to campaign for the candidate you believe in and against the candidate you don't agree with, in a morally and ethically positive way.
Something I tell my kids a lot is this, "It doesn't matter what someone else has done to you. You are responsible for your own behavior." It's a great thing to remember in this historic time of patriotic uncertainty. Regardless, you alone are responsible for the energy you're putting out into the world.
Don't be malicious. Don't attack the other candidate's supporters. Don't name-call, degrade, or otherwise invite more negative energy to an already inflamed situation. Don't be that person who justifies your own hate because someone else is acting hateful.
Take the high road. You may save your relationships with some important loved ones in the process.
Kasey Ferris is a freelance writer and mother of five. She eats too many Oreos and thinks life is much better when you're laughing. Find her on Facebook.

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