Opinion: Yes, my Dad referred to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas
Several days prior to the 2018 midterm elections, I was having a mindless phone conversation with my father, who happens to have quite different political views than I. He always has, and he always will, but the difference between now and my childhood is that now my views are reinforced as a budding political science student. They are not merely mimics of what he deems “[my] mother’s poisoning of me.” Nice, right?
A bit of mindless dialogue later, and that’s when it happened. The astonishing statement, even for my dad, that brought my blood to a boil. “Don’t vote for Pocahontas, Lizzy,” he said, followed by a casual chuckle that stung my ear canals so sharply I nearly hung up the phone. And then I did.
We live in a culture unhinged by political poison and differing opinions, as many struggle with it within their inner circles, and even their own homes. As a politically engaged student, a woman and a human of decent values, I have been finding it harder and harder to maintain relationships with certain people in my life than I did before Trump’s election.
It was not until I started really having conversations about my beliefs that people’s true colors came to life, alongside my changing opinions of who I want to be associated with. I would identify myself with being fairly reasonable, and am well versed in hearing others’ opinions, as well as understanding their differing views, as long as they have evidence to back it up. Opinions have increasingly become more confused with beliefs, giving people a stronger sense of ignorance.
It has become difficult to have discussions in this political climate, as we have become so divided. My roommate and I were having a brief discussion about the election, and she admitted to me that she voted for Trump in 2016 without having any prior knowledge about politics whatsoever. She just frankly did not care, and I could not get past the fact that she voted for a racist, homophobic, degrading sexist. As a woman, did she not stand against any of these issues?
I began to realize that some of the people I was closely surrounded with either had no idea what was going on in the world, did not care enough to make an educated decision or stood for policies I was completely and utterly against. These people were some of my closest friends, peers I was now finding hard to fully respect, and even my own father.
Granted, his views have always been the same — old money and conservative values — yet some of the opinions he had on certain topics were beginning to alarm me. Derogatory comments regarding race, unsettling views surrounding migrants hoping for a better life in America and, of course, the Pocahontas comment. At a time where I am emerging into a real adult, with my own values and belief systems, identifying with a person of such opposing views is difficult and confusing.
Opinions matter, and seem stronger than ever before, but how is it that we can fully maintain relationships with people when our inner beliefs stray so far from each other? It leads me to wonder, is it even worth the effort? I do not want to spend my time with someone who views women as inferior, or shows vicious hatred toward people of color.
As I have grown and matured throughout my college years, some people have become a mere blip on my radar for various reasons. Yet more recently, I have begun evaluating my relationships more closely based on my beliefs, because to me, it is important to surround myself with people who share the same. When it became apparent that certain friends deviated so far from me, I began to reconsider what that really meant.
This is not to say that I am a raging liberal who rails against conservatives at all costs. Rather, I am a person who sees the truth and deep meanings behind whom one chooses to vote for. I have Republican friends, and I want to have Republican friends; it creates opportunities for interesting and insightful conversations, and broadens my horizons for possible new outlooks. The only hesitations I now have are against people who wholeheartedly support racism, sexism, homophobia and a number of other stances that I will never be able to come to terms with.
It truly makes me think, the culture we are now existing in has become so divided to the point in which friendships are reconsidered, families are encountering uncharted territory and people are finding themselves caught in the crossfire. Yet, is it really that unrealistic to part ways from someone so different? I for one will not be calling anyone, other than the Disney princess, Pocahontas in my life.
Olivia Feldman is a junior at the university. Olivia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.