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Civil Discourse in Uncivil Times

October, 25, 2016, Durham

Linda Belans

I had a long civil discourse yesterday with two highly educated, professional white women: one who voted early for the republican candidate, and one who was planning to vote for him. They weren't so much voting for him, as they were voting against Hillary.

One woman mostly listened as her employer, an Independent, did most of the talking. Some of her many points: A CNN documentary showed Hillary being “too focused” in an important meeting – she did not stop long enough to show enough relief when a call came in that Bill was found not guilty (of something I can’t remember her mentioning because I got fixated on “too focused”).

When I did my best Be Curious: “Don’t you want a president who is focused?,” she pivoted to: “She has been too ambitious.” When I pointed out that all the men in office got there through ambition, she pivoted to Bill’s infidelity.

When I pointed out that it was Bill who was unfaithful, not Hillary, both women lurched toward me with raised angry voices, as if a rehearsed chorus: “Yes! BUT SHE TOOK HIM BACK!” When I pointed out that their candidate has cheated on all of his 3 wives, they responded: “Hillary only stayed with Bill because she is ambitious. She had her eye on the White House all along.”

When I mentioned that most of the men in high political positions had their eyes on high office as well, the more vocal woman conceded, “Well, maybe I do have some undiscovered issues as a woman.” Then without a beat, immediately pivoted to: Hillary’s emails; and to “I know race is a problem in America and that slavery wasn’t a good thing, but people have to stop talking about race. It only makes it worse.” To the TTP; to Obamacare. "She is too old to be president." When I pointed out that Trump is older than Hillary, she replied: "She should want to spend time with her grandchild." And a myriad of other points.

It was like being on a Merry-Go-Round with sticky brass rings: which ones to grab?

She had no response to video evidence of continuous lying by her candidate, including: "I didn't apologize to my wife," even though his wife said two days earlier: "He apologized and we have moved on." Or to his need to retalitweet to students in dorm rooms in the middle of the night, and doesn’t that worry you; or… And so it went.

I thanked her for our civil discourse. We hugged for our ability to be civil in such uncivil times. “I just want all the name calling to stop,” she said. I asked: “Do you know who started that name calling?” “I don’t care," she said. "I just want it to stop.”

PLEASE VOTE! This election is NOT over! And we have so much healing work to do.


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