Simmer Down, Folks.

There’s a huge gulf between the political leanings of my brother and my dad and those of my sister and I. I’m pretty sure my dad wonders where he went so terribly wrong, bringing up daughters who’ve landed so, so far from the fold. Family vacations and holidays include a strict no-discussion policy with regard to political hot potatoes. Or even lukewarm potatoes. As tempting as it is to argue, it would only lead to hurt feelings. I’m not saying minds can’t be changed, but it’s not going to happen with this group.

If you live in a part of the country or in a community that’s as politically homogenous as mine, it’s easy to let yourself think that everyone agrees with you. My family gives me a built in reminder that this is not so. And that the people who disagree with me aren’t imbeciles just because they have a different political point of view. My brother and dad are fine men by any measure: smart, patient, kind and loving. The fact that they may vote differently than me doesn’t lessen those qualities in any way. I would certainly hope that they don’t judge me based on my radical political notions either.

I bring this up because the highly polarized nature of public discourse right now makes acceptance and constructive debate very difficult. There seems to be no option to let disagreement stand. It’s either vote like me, or you’re an idiot.

The truth is, not every one of your 879 Facebook friends is going to have the same views that you do. And the way I see it — within reason — that’s ok. (Unless we’re talking about ethnic prejudice or something equally offensive, and then maybe you do have to reevaluate.) We’ve got a long way to go before November, and I think things are only going to get more and more heated. My idea: be thoughtful about what you share and also about how you respond to the things you read. Remember the people that you’ve cared about all along, and not just the last tweet you saw.

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