It was all fun and games. Until it wasn’t.
Coffee, lunch, phone calls, text messages.
“Beth, how are you doing? Let me know if you need anything.”
“Beth, I just wanted to tell you that your tenacity is inspirational.”
Oooo this one’s my favorite: “Beth you’re such a great citizen lobbyist.”
Mmm hmmm. Blah. Blah. Blah.
But for real. I think it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Pun intended.
For those of you who don’t know, my small business that I own, which happens to be an Early Childhood Center, was investigated for maltreatment following a playground injury – from a slide that was less than 4 feet tall. We were ultimately cleared and to make a long story short, that single incident sparked a whole ton of research and compiling of public data – data that is pretty damning, might I add.
And so, it began.
It started with a half-day protest on our front lawn at Here We Grow – turned into a 2-month data compiling furry – and ended with 30 days spent at the Capitol in Minnesota fighting for change.
That. Is the short version.
Here’s what was happening during that time. I was working with our currently elected officials – who happen to be members of the DFL (Minnesota thinks it’s special and the Democratic party has “claimed” the Farmers and Laborers as their own, so the DFL is the Democratic Farmer Laborer Party aka Democrats). Great, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move forward.
So here I am, working with our locally elected officials, and everything is fine. By fine I mean, there is zero actual help, but they also aren’t eating me for breakfast. Which means elephant for breakfast isn’t their forte, or they didn’t know I was a Republican… spoiler alert, it’s the latter.
This isn’t the first-time people have thought I was a Democrat. It happened after Voldemort… err I mean Hillary, lost the election. Friends texting me telling me of their woes and offering to hug it out with me. Or promising me that we’d get through this together; work diligently to shatter the glass ceiling.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was celebrating when her party room was empty, and all the cameras kept showing was her sad balloons laying on the ground and Kleenex stock hitting an all time high.
I also didn’t tell many people that I voted for Donald Trump. So, while I was up celebrating with tears streaming down my face at 3am watching it all come to fruition – happy tears might I add – I also knew that I would have to face the hardest day of my life the next day. The day where everyone would think I was sad. Because I am a woman. Who owns a business. And oh, just happens to be rather outspoken when it comes to things I’m passionate about. Sigh.
Keeping all of that in mind, you can imagine how awkward and uncomfortable it was when I was invited to and attended The Burton Dinner. For those of you unfamiliar, The Burton Dinner, is the DFL event of the year, where everyone gets together and apparently bashes Republicans. But I went. I went because I was invited by a friend who thought it would be a great opportunity for me to talk about child care.
Only there was one problem. No one there wanted to talk about child care. In fact, not one of our currently elected officials even said “hi” to me. That’s right. Zero. Way to act like the shape of the cookies in the center of the table people… that’s right, there were ass cookies; cookies in the shape of a donkey.
The point of that whole story isn’t to bash The Burton Dinner – as awful as it was to sit through an event where people are literally making fun of you and your deeply held beliefs. The point is that I tried everything to work across party lines, only to get smacked upside the head with a little dose of reality.
And here’s what it is.
Most of my friends whose beliefs align best with the Democratic Party are fine with me being a Republican – when I’m quiet.
It was all fine and well when I was a cute, quiet Republican. The kind that fulfills her American duty and votes but doesn’t say a damn thing in-between elections. The kind that keeps her elephant collection – I don’t have an elephant collection – to herself.
But something happened. And the minute it did, I lost friends. They might not tell me. Some might quietly fade away, but it happened, and it will continue to happen. And from my perspective it comes down to this:
My views are different from theirs and now they are uncomfortable. I would even say “disappointed”, after all I’m a woman so I must be in support of woman’s rights. I absolutely am. But I am also in support of the rights of unborn children and against abortion. The logic never made sense to me. If people believe unborn children aren’t actually babies, then why, when a pregnant woman gets into a car accident and is killed, is it considered manslaughter? I’ll await a response. <crickets>
So here we are, my calendar has opened up quite a bit as some who were my friends don’t really seem to reach out to me anymore. It’s really been quite eye opening. Here’s my ending thought and the one that hits me the hardest:
Some of my friends knew that I was a Republican; that I held conservative beliefs. But I never questioned theirs; never stopped the conversation when it was about a viewpoint I didn’t agree with. Never silenced them when I was the one feeling uncomfortable. Never stopped talking to them while they posted “Not my President” or other things that were really an attack on the character of people who voted for Trump – people like me.
I never thought about becoming involved in politics, until my own elected officials not only ignored me, but ridiculed me -or in one case came after my business. The moment I arrived home from The Burton Dinner I told my husband, “I’m going to find out who’s running against these people and I’m going to help them get voted out”.
And there it is. It was all fine and well when I was a quiet Republican, when I wasn’t “a threat”.
It was fine when I was trying to work in a bi-partisan manner with “their” elected officials. Even though I don’t agree with them they are still MY elected officials…. But not for long if I can help it. So, I joined a campaign and became VERY involved and outspoken in Republican politics in a manner of months, and instantly lost friends.
And that’s the elephant in the room.
Nice article Beth. I think Dolores Umbridge is a more accurate comparison than Voldemort, but either one effectively makes your point.