This is a troubling year for the American people.
As the recent elections have shown, the United States of America is more divided than at any time since the Civil War.
Both sides viewed the elections in apocalyptic terms, as if tyranny or anarchy will take over if our opponents prevail. Many of us feared that our country will descend into a second civil war, no matter which party wins. Families were divided and friendships were broken as both sides retreated to their corners, ready to fight.
As a progressive Democrat who vehemently dislikes Donald Trump and all that he has done, I am obviously biased. But I try my best to maintain personal ties across the great divide.
Unlike some of my friends who grew up as part of liberal families, I was raised in a conservative household. Like most Cuban American families, my folks came to this country to escape Cuban’s socialist revolution. I grew up in a community which feared social reforms or liberal programs as gateways to Communism. Many Cuban Americans, like many Venezuelan Americans or Nicaraguan Americans, are active and vocal Republicans and vote accordingly.
True to form, most of my blood relatives are registered Republicans and avid Trump supporters. Despite (or perhaps because of) all this, as the rainbow sheep in my family, I forged my own path. Even so, I still maintain good relations with my relatives, though we agree to disagree. The same goes for some of my gay Cuban Americans friends with who I socialize.
Though most of my friends and acquaintances are progressive Democrats, I still have ties with people whose political views are vastly different than mine. One of my oldest friends is Andy Eddy, with whom I worked in the past and who remains active in Broward County’s Log Cabin Republican Club.
Though I am shocked that the Log Cabin Clubs endorsed Trump, I still look forward to working with Eddy and other LCR members in pursuit of goals that we can agree on. In dealing with friends who happen to be Republican or conservative, I deal with them as friends and not as political enemies; and try to avoid politics whenever I am with them.
Closer to home, my boyfriend Ron is a registered Libertarian; a fact of life that leads to some spirited discussions but is something that I can live with. Happily, when it comes to the general elections, Ron takes my advice and votes for the candidates that I recommend.
Before the first American Civil War divided our nation, political parties collapsed, and religious denominations split between northern and southern branches (the Southern Baptist Church is an enduring example).
Today’s Red America and Blue America are likewise divided in many ways, thanks to social media and our outgoing president. Though I remain true to my beliefs, I hope to remain friends with those who do not share my views.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.