I sat just a few feet in front of my TV, as results trickled in from the Presidential election, and I wasn’t sure if the tears welling in my eyes were the result of anger or sadness.
“Fuck this, fuck this fucking country,” I shouted to no one in particular. And clicked the power button.
You’ve heard this story before. You probably had a similar experience.
Just maybe not the way I did.
In the days and weeks leading up to election day, I had confidently told my girlfriend that the nation was at a tipping point. That if evangelicals could just get over themselves, and acquiesce to support the morally justifiable choice, that we’d be in the clear. I understood that my candidate wasn’t perfect but, like many others, was essentially arguing against the opposition.
I mean, seriously, that guy?
As a Christian, the decision at the polling booth was simple enough: although my choice wasn’t the most ideal representative of American Christianity (nor the most engaging), with corporate relationships that were less than becoming, my choice was infinitely closer to what it meant to be a Christian than the opponent, who had long faced criticisms for the way he practiced his faith.
Then, this …
When Barack Obama secured his second term, I was a wreck. Like the polls in 2016, I had hung on every last Karl Rove syllable as he desperately tried to find votes to save Mitt Romney from runner-up status. I think at one point he even looked under his desk. It was all so miserable.
Four years later, déjà vu. Only this time the pain was more searing, because I gravely understood something that I couldn’t appreciate in 2012: though evangelicals were responsible for Romney’s loss, withholding their vote because his Mormon faith wasn’t pure enough for their taste, they were as much responsible for Trump’s win because, somehow, his faith was.
And in some ways, that’s where the story begins.
In the years between the two elections, I was forced to confront reality through experiences and data and information and patience and grace of those who viewed things differently. Slowly, I began to identify the fraudulent themes and talking points that cloaked the Fox News talking heads and conservative radio. So I turned them off.
And, alas, I changed my stripes.
I don’t expect my journey into progressivism to be common in other conservative, white males in their mid-thirties. Nor do I think, given the right conditions, it needs to be rare.
In the current climate, it’s easy and even understandable to dismiss the opposition as out-of-touch, hypocritical, Trumpanzee whack jobs. I’m just as guilty as retreating back into the sane confines of our collective echo chamber, and refusing to engage because why in the hell would it ever be worth the hassle?
The answer is because four years ago, in spite of how insufferable a conservative Christian I might have been, others found me to be worth the investment.
And even though that has meant a pretty miserable ride since 2016, I’m sure glad they did.