A month into the Trump Era and I still don’t agree with you. This is what I keep telling friends and relatives who are Donald Trump supporters.
They don’t agree with me either, of course. And sure, it’d be marvelous if we could move on from there, if we could agree to disagree, if we accepted the fact that I like chocolate and they prefer vanilla. But we haven’t moved on. Or we can’t. Or we don’t want to.
Too much — namely, a society’s future — hangs in the balance. As a result, the tenuous ties that support both personal and public relationships have only grown more fragile since November. The election settled only one thing: who resides in the White House. The coming together, the Kumbaya moment? Not happening.
I’ve heard too many stories of raucous family arguments, of Facebook friends unfriending each other, of adult children and parents sparring over issues they thought long settled, of a woman punching a man in the stomach not over an inappropriate comment, mind you, but over politics. (In my gym, no less.)
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So to survive the next four years, I’ve drawn up a handy-dandy primer of subjects to avoid when keeping mixed company, be it a group gathering or date night with your significant other.
▪ Don’t talk books, literature or reading. (This is challenging for me, which is why I listed it first.) Certainly don’t mention that such dystopian tomes as George Orwell’s “1984,” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here” are selling as briskly as chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs at Easter. Reading and knowledge have become too radical at this time. Even staid librarians have gotten political. As experts in information and how to get it, they’re using their professional skills to oppose — or support — policies.
▪ Refuse to talk about astronomy, particularly about the hot-off-the-presses discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby star. Science has become highly controversial these days. Besides, someone might insist Steve Bannon be immediately deported to the newly located TRAPPIST-1 solar system. Also, we’re not sure what’s happening with NASA and its funding.
▪ Don’t be goaded into commenting on current events, specifically town hall meetings and street protests. One camp will insist protesters are being paid by the opposition, while the other side will unsheathe the accusation of racism. Both are wrong.
▪ Resist all temptation to make small talk about the weather. It will inevitably lead to the recent report that 2016 was the hottest year on record, beating out 2015 and 2014, which, in turn, will devolve into a debate about global warming. A suggestion to check out Miami Beach during a king tide won’t go over well either. If it helps, channel Galileo, who, while under house arrest ordered by the Inquisition, wrote one of his best-known works, “Two New Sciences.”
▪ Disregard any and all forays into the hot-topic issue of immigration reform. Under no circumstances point out that my fellow Cuban Americans, particularly the hypocritical politicians, are embarrassingly mum about this subject. And don’t bother pointing out that the Mayflower voyagers were undocumented immigrants, too, or that the Pilgrims overstayed their visas.
▪ Don’t. Talk. About. Russia. Or. Putin. Or any suspicion of Trump ties to either or both. Just don’t. While you’re at it, keep any thoughts about our president’s tax returns to yourself. You should be focusing on your own 1040 anyway.
I know such restrictions can be limiting, but it beats buying boxing gloves. And if these fail, I’ve found a good pinot noir makes everything funnier. For a while.