My neighbors put up a Trump lawn sign, and I don’t know what to do.

They’re not my immediate neighbors – they live down the road a bit. But we’ve waved and chatted. They have a lovely garden, and a very good dog. And the kicker – the reason why I can’t just write them off as hateful nut jobs – is this: They rescue pit bulls.

Pit bulls are a particularly polarizing and misunderstood dog breed (right up there with Chihuahuas). People who rescue them tend to have extra supplies of love and patience, and an affinity for the underdog. So it short-circuited my brain a little bit to find out that folks who adopt the dogs that most other people pass over would be all-in for a leader as cruel and hurtful as … Donald Trump. (Not to mention, he has a long track record of disdaining dogs.) They’re a military family, too, which makes me wonder if they know how much Trump has hurt and disrespected members of the military. Or maybe they don’t care.

So I don’t know what, if anything, I should do. Slip Biden campaign literature under their door? Keep waving at them? Am I betraying the entire rest of the LGBTQ community by waving and chatting with them? What drives someone who is kind and loving to misunderstood animals to support a leader who thrives on being cruel and hateful?

It would be a different situation if they had a Susan Collins yard sign. Not because Sen. Collins likes dogs (although she does) but because even though I disagree with many of her actions and policies, at the very least, she’s not a cruel and hurtful person. I live in a purple town in a purple state; usually I am quite happy and proud of that. But there’s a low bar of basic human decency that Donald Trump fails to clear.

One big difference between older and younger generations – between millennials and boomers, in particular – is that for younger folks, politics is personal for us. For myself in particular, it’s because I came of age during the culture war over gay marriage, when one major American political party generally supported it, and the other major American political party generally opposed it with great intensity. I don’t think I could be close friends with a Republican. Friendly acquaintances, sure. But friendship is rooted in trust, and how could I trust someone who wants to elect people to power who think there’s something wrong with being gay, or who thinks it should be legal to discriminate against the LGBTQ community? Why would I go on a date with someone who wants to make it harder for me to access birth control or abortion? I’ve heard older people say, “Well, do you only want to be friends with people who agree with you on everything?” No, of course not; agreeing on everything would be boring. But I want to agree on the most important values I grew up with: namely, being kind toward other human beings and not negatively interfering with their lives if at all possible.

I can have an honest economic disagreement with someone who thinks the way to prosperity is privatization and low tax rates; I’ll bring my data, they’ll bring their data, we could hash it out and still be friends. But I can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t think Muslims belong in America. I can’t stand horror movies; I have friends who love them. That’s a difference of opinion, and it’s one that doesn’t make a huge difference to the world. Voting makes a difference.

Because this is Maine, it’s entirely possible that someone is reading this and thinking, “Well, heck, I’m a Republican and I support a woman’s right to choose and gay people being treated equally, this millennial doesn’t know what she’s talking about!” To which I would reply: Then why the heck are you a Republican? Democracy requires that we take responsibility for the representatives we vote for. Why wouldn’t I think that Republican representatives represent Republicans?

And for the record, it’s not like I’m a huge fan of the Democrats. Most of them are part of the corrupted, corporate-owned political establishment. They’re not perfect. I would like to consider myself an independent, and I have voted for Republicans before. I have voted for Don Marean (himself now an independent) because he did a good job representing my district in the State House and, in 2014, for Susan Collins. I wanted to believe in moderate Republicans and in bipartisan cooperation. But when I was younger, I wanted to believe in Santa Claus, too.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: mainemillennial


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