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COMMENTARY

STOP BEING SILENT:

A Neighborhood of a Difference
By Herodotus Paine

We reside in California, a very blue one-party state that used to elect Republican governors regularly, not too long ago. Good Republican governors.

My wife is a native of Sacramento. I moved here from the heartland 35 years ago to begin my career in the Bay Area. It was left of center in Silicon Valley even then, but it was also livable, still affordable, clean, upbeat, and a heck of a lot of fun.

My how times change.

For the last twenty years, we have lived in a small upscale community outside Sacramento after leveraging up all that “privilege” to work our way through college and grind our way through 55-hour work-weeks while following the law, saving money, and raising your kids.

Our area is fairly conservative—or at least it was. It’s a bit less so now. We still have a good conservative Congressman in Tom McClintock (who has been invisible here this race against his opponent). Bay Area folks fed up with life there have been selling their million-dollar track houses to get twice as much here for half the cost.

New neighbors from the Bay moved in across the street a few months ago—50-something, sociable, and fun. My wife baked cookies. Both routinely tell us how shocked they are by our warm and friendly neighborhood. “It isn’t like this in the Bay Area—we didn’t even know our neighbors!” admitted Susan (not her real name). “It’s like Mayberry here!”

She and my wife began taking long morning walks almost daily. My wife is very conservative and bites her tongue, not to let her views be known. It was clear early on that Susan was not, though she was not on the kook-fringe, either—but she has some kooky uninformed ideas.

My wife and Susan have never talked about politics. That changed a few weeks ago during one of the walks when Susan whispered, “I have to ask you something. Are you a Trump supporter?”

“Yes,” replied my wife. “Why do you ask?”

Susan frowned and asked the same thing about several of our neighbors (all of whom support the president). Her frown morphed into a baffled shake of the head. “But you are all so nice!”

“Why wouldn’t we be?” asked my wife.

“Well, you guys aren’t racists or bigots or anything like that!”

“Why would you ever think we would be?”

“Well, Trump supports white supremacy, and he’s a racist,” she announced before repeating the “good people on both sides” Charlottesville lie. “I’m confused why you vote for a Nazi?”

My wife stopped walking. “Susan, he has a Jewish son-in-law, Jewish daughter, and Jewish grandchildren. Do you really think he is a Nazi?”

Her mouth dropped open. “He does not! Seriously?” This college-educated woman was not even aware of those basic facts.

Next, my wife patiently explained why the Charlottesville meme is an outright lie. Susan dismissed her explanation as untrue. My wife made her a bet: “Will you read the transcript of Trump’s interview or listen to the actual full audio for yourself?” She agreed she would do so.

An hour later, an agitated Susan was at our front door. “You’re right. He didn’t say that.” The two sat on the front steps and talked for more than an hour about Trump’s record, the riots, the Russian collusion hoax, and much more.

After several more walks, long talks, and a lot of reading and listening, Susan finally agreed the stereotypes she had so firmly believed about conservatives and Trump supporters for years were the result of living in a liberal-Leftist bubble, watching one news channel, and parroting what she had been told.

“How do you know so much about liberals and democrats?” she asked the other day.

“Because we conservatives are smothered with left-wing politics all day—in movies, newspapers, TV, school, advertisements—we can’t get away from it. But liberals—like you, Susan—have to seek out conservative ideas or you never hear them.”

That really got her to thinking. “Honestly, I’ve never thought of it that way.”

The next morning Susan told my wife, “I no longer hate Trump, and now I have conservative church-going friends!” she laughed before assuming a more serious tone. “But you know what’s sad? I told one of my friends from San Jose, and she yelled at me on the phone and hung up. Today she defriended me on Facebook.”

My wife nodded her understanding. “All of us here welcomed you as friends to the neighborhood, knowing we did not think the same politically,” replied my wife. “What does that tell you about your friends?”

The moral: If you have family members, neighbors, or friends who disagree with you politically but are not lost cause Leftists, STOP BEING SILENT. Talk to them patiently, respectfully, honestly, and in earnest as if your country depends on it.

Because it does.

Submitted by Herodotus Paine, an attorney, writer, father, husband, constitutional activist, avid cigar smoker, and a rescuer of dogs.

 

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