Yesterday I was casually browsing Twitter and I came across this article: Why Women Are Wrong To Rule Out Dating Trump Supporters by Matt Sweetwood. I feel compelled to write a response, from the perspective of a woman who does specify no Trump supporters in her dating profiles.
Even though there was a lot about the article that annoyed me, I am going to try to keep my response as calm as possible because I do feel that thoughtful, intelligent debate on these issues is the only way we are all ever going to learn or grow. If you haven’t read Matt’s article, I encourage you to do so before reading this response. I will be doing a short summary of certain sections but I think it’s worth reading the whole thing first.
Matt starts by giving a little bit about his background. He sounds quite successful. He’s a single dad with grown children. (He is in his 50s, which undoubtedly influences his mindset on this issue, just as being in my late 20s undoubtedly influences mine.) He gives some statistics on NYC dating basically to say, he feels he should be fairly successful in this dating sphere.
He then mentions his first date, where “Jennifer” tried to bring up politics and he suggested they follow the “Time honored rule of no politics on a first date.”
This is the first thing I’d like to point out — I disagree with this “rule.” I understand the purpose behind it, but in my opinion, if something is important to you, then you can talk about it at ANY time. The idea of holding off on any topic that means a lot to you is counterproductive, in my opinion. If you are a person with strong political beliefs and it is important to you to find someone who feels similarly, you should be able to bring it up at any time. If you are more indifferent toward politics, then there isn’t a need to bring it up right away, if at all. But I don’t like the idea of disparaging others for bringing up issues that matter to them.
He describes a second date, where a similar situation happened, but their conversation went a little more in depth. He mentions at some point that he taught his daughters, “That a difference in opinion is not a reason to dismiss a friend.” (emphasis added by me.) I will be coming back to this “friend” topic at the end.
He then talks about how to avoid this in the future he added #proTrump to his profile and his matches plummeted. I get the sense that we are supposed to feel sorry for him here, but in all honesty, I do not.
At one point, he writes, “Since I wasn’t getting much action on Bumble anymore, I decided to start looking for political statements or requirements in the introduction on women’s profiles. I could not find one profile that said ‘Trump supporters only’ but found many that said ‘No Trump Supporters.’”
This is where I feel the need to mention the fact that maybe he didn’t see “Trump supporters only” because he is only looking at women. I have absolutely seen similar things on men’s profiles, and even more broad comments such as “liberals swipe left.” I think it’s important to point out that most women aren’t putting “no conservatives,” they’re putting “no Trump supporters.” There is a difference.
He ends his article by sharing this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”— Thomas Jefferson
along with this commentary: “So, may I suggest to women everywhere, and especially those women in New York (where there is shortage of men!), that they take some wisdom from Thomas Jefferson and not allow a difference of political opinion to be the reason they turn away a friend. Can we hope that time will eventually calm the rancorous political mood and we can return to a more romantic period, where a person’s inner qualities overrule their political views?”
Now, my response:
First, I want to address the “friend” thing. Matt seems to think that we should be treating potential romantic partners the same way we would treat friends. I know that, ideally, your long-term partner becomes your “best friend,” but in reality, what you need from a romantic partner is in many ways different than what you need from a friend. I need to love my friends, I need to be IN LOVE with a partner. And if there is something about a partner’s core beliefs that would prevent me from being head-over-heels in love with them, it doesn’t mean that same thing would prevent me from having someone as a friend. Now, I know some people will argue that people shouldn’t even keep Trump supporters as friends. I’m not going to go down that road right now. I have 2 or 3 friends/acquaintances who supported him, and if my dad ever voted he probably would have voted for him too. This has been really hard for me to reconcile with but I am trying my best to move forward from it. However, I am not trying to build a life with those people. I am not their partner. What I need from a friendship or a parental relationship is not what I need from a boyfriend or a husband.
Next, I want to comment on his plea that “we can return to a more romantic period, where a person’s inner qualities overrule their political views.” This is something I think Matt is fundamentally misunderstanding about how some people view politics. Your political views make up part of your “inner qualities.” They reflect your priorities and what you view as important. We don’t come up with our politics out of nowhere; they are a reflection of at least some portions of our inner selves.
I’m now going to explain some of the reasons I personally don’t want to date a Trump supporter. But first, I want to be clear that I don’t expect to align politically with a partner on every single issue. Part of my most recent relationship spanned the height of the focus on police brutality and the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. At the time, the students I worked with were predominantly Black, so I tried to really educate myself on these issues and structural/systemic racism in general and help spread the message of the movement. (I am not perfect in this area, and still learning, but I’ve made a strong effort these past few years.) My boyfriend was not as informed on these issues as I was, and it was frustrating at times. But I tried to educate him on it, and while he didn’t come as far on the issue as I would have liked, I did see our conversations moving the needle over time and I would even sometimes see him educating other friends of his online. The fact that we didn’t agree on every single aspect of this issue wasn’t a dealbreaker — but if he had been polar opposite to me on this issue, it would have been one. There is room for difference and nuance and debate in a relationship, but there isn’t always room for total opposite beliefs, depending on how important certain topics are to you. And I don’t think women, or any group, should be disparaged for holding some topics in high priority.
Here are just some of the reasons I don’t envision myself ever being able to date a Trump supporter:
- My career primarily focuses on working in low-income and/or minority communities. I care a lot about the issues these groups face. I truly do not think Trump or his administration do. Nothing about their policies or their beliefs say they do. He’s nominated cabinet members against things like the Fair Housing Act, and in favor of things like Stop and Frisk. His team wants to do things like block grant Medicaid. His budget wants to eliminate programs like Americorps, which serves very high-needs communities AND acts as a job training program for young Americans. His education secretary’s voucher policies will hurt low income students. His team supports for-profit prisons. He uses the terms “inner city” and “Black” interchangeably. This list could go on forever.
- He literally bragged about committing sexual assault “because he’s famous.”
- He ran a campaign based on unnecessary hate and fear. Kicking off your campaign by saying “Mexico sends us their rapists and their drug dealers and sometimes I’m assuming good people too” was a deliberate choice in tone that perpetuates falsehoods. Undocumented immigrants commit violent crimes at lower rates than U.S. citizens. That’s not to say that the immigration system doesn’t need reforming, it does. (Worth noting that a few years ago when a bipartisan reform was on the table, a reform that epitomized political compromise in the best ways, it got shut down. And Trump mocked Rubio throughout the campaign for being part of the “Gang of Eight” that wrote the bill.) But “a wall” isn’t going to fix the problem. A lot of people currently here illegally entered legally and overstayed a visa. And yes, I know information about this was on Trump’s website during the campaign or whatever, but he didn’t SPEAK about these things. He spoke about things that would rile up his supporters and stoke unnecessary fear and hate.
- He ran the birther movement for years but won’t even release his own tax returns.
- He wants to take away federal protections for LGBT groups.
- Programs like NPR and the NEA and Americorps are at risk, but we can increase defense spending and spend money on “a wall” that Mexico is never going to pay for.
- Since being elected, he has — despite the fact that this seemed impossible — become even more petty, spending way too much time on Twitter inciting arguments with people and way too little times doing things like being in the Situation Room during a raid.
- He says things during his Joint Address like “For every regulation added, we will have to take two away.” THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS. I understand that conservatives inherently want smaller government, and if deregulation is part of your platform, that’s fine. But to just blindly take things away just to say you’re doing it is the mark of someone who doesn’t know anything about what they’re doing.
- He’s made the media out to be the enemy. This is the behavior of a dictator.
- Overall, I truly believe he is ruining our global reputation. Sure, our financial markets may be slightly up, but with all the financial deregulation happening it’s only a matter of time before we have another crash. He doesn’t know what he is doing, he is putting our own country and many other parts of the world at risk. I truly believe another massive terrorist attack on American soil is right around the corner, due to his inability to work with (and general refusal to trust) the CIA and other intelligence agencies that are supposed to protect us. The entire world is either laughing at us or fearful of us (and not in the right way), or a combination of the two.
I understand that just because someone voted for him, it doesn’t mean they agree with all of the above. But it does mean that the above was not a dealbreaker for them. They may have had “other reasons,” and that’s fine, that is their choice. And obviously plenty of people (over 3 million fewer people than Hillary, but plenty of people nonetheless) clearly agreed because he is president. but it doesn’t mean these issues don’t exist. And if someone can’t look past issues like this when it comes to finding a romantic partner, that is their choice.
I think Hanna Brooks Olsen summed this up nicely in the last line of her article when she noted: “In short, young person, I hope you at least remember this: Don’t fuck someone whose political actions could fuck you.” I agree. Why would you want to be with someone who believes in things that could harm you or those you care about? If someone feels their political beliefs are important to them and who they are, I don’t know why Matt feels that they should just ignore that when looking for a partner. If someone stands against the very things that I hold most important, why do I want to be with that person?
Since Matt shared a quote toward the end of his article, I will do the same here. The author of this quote is unknown, but it has always resonated with me and how I feel about love:
I do not care what car you drive. Where you live. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If your clothes are this year’s cutting edge. If your trust fund is unlimited. If you are A-list B-list or never heard of you list. I only care about the words that flutter from your mind. They are the only thing you truly own. The only thing I will remember you by. I will not fall in love with your bones and skin. I will not fall in love with the places you have been. I will not fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from your extraordinary mind.
I am ultimately attracted to someone’s mind. And to be frank, if someone’s mind made them feel inclined to choose Trump, that is not a mind I envision myself ever falling in love with. When Matt writes, “While these women are hating on potentially good men because the men supported Trump, there is little chance that they are going to get love in return — from anyone” he comes across as bitter that he is having trouble finding a date. And ultimately, what he fails to realize, is that it is 2017 and many women are able to accept the idea of being alone as opposed to settling. Everyone’s priorities are different, and I don’t feel sympathy toward him that he is finding that many women’s priorities do not align with his.
I wish Matt the best of luck in his search; in the meantime I will be over here, perfectly content being single, until I can find someone who I can love fully and completely — political views and all.