"OMG!!!" I texted my sister from a Starbucks bathroom to fill her in on the status of my blind date. "He's amazing!" I had been on what felt like hundreds of dates without feeling an ounce of excitement. After one coffee, I sensed this man was different. He was intelligent, funny, kind, ambitious and insanely attractive.
But when I got home and looked at his online profile again, one word popped out that I previously overlooked: CONSERVATIVE. It hit me like a bullet: I am a staunch liberal Democrat. I started to panic, fearing he could be Paul Ryan disguised as Ben Affleck. Even if I were even lucky enough for him to be interested in me, the political lines were drawn. Could I really date someone who was a conservative?
Politics has always been an important part of my life. I was raised by two working-class parents in a strong Democratic family who believed in serving others. In fourth grade, I painted signs for a rally to meet presidential candidate Bill Clinton. I turned 18 in 2000 and cast my first vote for Al Gore in the infamously hijacked presidential election. I attended the inauguration in Washington, D.C. and watched the protesters in front of the Supreme Court in awe.
I majored in politics and interned for Hillary Clinton when she was a New York Senator. I volunteered for the John Kerry, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns. I studied feminist theory and became a civil rights and employment lawyer. Though I've never harbored any hatred whatsoever toward people of opposing political views, I always thought it was essential that your significant other share your core values. How else could you keep peace in a relationship?
When I was in college, I dated a great guy who proudly boasted about how he voted for George W. Bush. "He's a great man," he said. He was serious, so I was done. On another occasion, I jokingly asked a second date why he voted for someone who lies to the American public, to which he simply replied: "F*ck you." I have argued with boyfriends over gay marriage and social safety nets, and have quickly learned never to discuss religion or politics. Eventually, I started ruling out conservatives before I even gave them a chance, so the conversation would not even be on the table. Political preferences became non-negotiable, and I vowed to find a man who wanted to save the world, the working class and the environment.
So even though I felt like a giddy teenager waiting for my blind date to call, just the word "CONSERVATIVE" in his online profile was a huge red flag. Until I realized, with the help of a wise friend, that the problem wasn't about politics. The problem was me.
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