How about a blue stater and a red stater start a conversation?
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Dear red state compatriot, 

You won. Congratulations. I emphatically do not get what you were thinking when you cast your ballot for a man who strikes me as catastrophically unqualified to lead the nation.

But I guess that's the problem: I don't get you.

And now I want to try.

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Perhaps it’s fair what you keep telling me: that I live in a progressive political bubble where I remain unaware of both your life and your ways of thinking.

This bubble, I now see, has prevented me from engaging in a meaningful dialogue with you, one where we might learn something about each other and from each other. 

So please consider this letter my first attempt at that dialogue. I know you don't represent all red staters, just as I don't speak for all blue staters.

For now, though, it's just the two of us.

As a show of good faith, let me start by saying what's really hard for me to say: Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE is my president. I certainly didn't want him, but you outvoted me (sort of).

Because he's my president, I want him to do well, meaning that I want him to fulfill his campaign slogan to "make America great again." 

Now let's talk about what that means.

And let's begin with a tough issue: Abortion. It's true, I want to allow women the right to do what, in your mind, amounts to murder. I get that you can't accept that, and that perhaps we won't find much common ground here.

So let's just shoot for a mutual understanding.

Let me offer this: I respect that your position is rooted in a sincere and deeply held religious conviction. I don't share it, but I'm not critical of you for having it.

Here's what I’d ask in return: try to accept that I don't consider myself to be supporting murder. From your standpoint, I may be mistaken, but I'm not evil.

And there's a difference, one that matters if we're going to make America great again.

Guns is another tough one.

As the father of a gun enthusiast, I've come to see how deeply important gun ownership is for some people. It isn't something I care about, and guns do worry me, but I accept that a healthy nation is not one that thinks only as I do.

So for now, let's try to agree on one thing: Some people shouldn't have a gun.

And you do agree, right? I mean, you agree that certain basic rights aren't always for everyone. You sometimes argue that felons shouldn't be voting, or that repeat drunk drivers shouldn't be driving.

That's how I think of gun control: It's a tool to keep the mentally disturbed from harming you, me or themselves.

And on assault weapons — even here our disagreement is only marginal. You accept that some weapons are beyond the pale: nuclear weapons, nerve gas or perhaps hand grenades, land mines and anti-aircraft missiles.

So we agree that there's a line out there somewhere, and as long as you're down with that, we can work at this.

Perhaps, like our president-elect, you think that global warming is a hoax. If so, all I'll say is that I honestly think it's happening.

I do because I keep reading scientists who say they're not in doubt about it, and I really don't think they have much to gain from lying about it. You can read them too. Spend 20 minutes with Union of Concerned Scientists, and then let's talk.

Meanwhile, I'll look at whatever website you have in mind and tell you what I think.

Like you, I sometimes get tired of political correctness.

When I do, though, I remind myself that you can't really go wrong showing respect and compassion for marginalized people, and that it isn't really an assault on my freedom to have to refer to someone with a pronoun I just learned about six months ago.

The bottom line is that I just don't think much is being asked of us here, and in any case, if we're going to make America great again, I, as a straight, white man, am okay with a few adjustments to my life.

Can you join me on that?

This brings me to gay people. Look, I get that you have religious problems with them. I don't share your views, but if you think they're sinning, then that's what you think. Fine.

But here's my question: Why not let your God punish them? I mean, do you really think we should be doing the judging? One thing we probably agree on is that there is no greater American ideal than toleration for others.

Here's our chance. Let reaffirm this ideal as part of what it means to make America great again.

Immigration. Here, I need to be honest: You scare me. You scare me even though, as I mentioned, I'm white and straight and male.

I can only imagine what you might do to people to whom those adjectives don't apply.

Please, then, can you assure me that my fears are somehow misplaced? Can we agree that — more than just toleration — inclusivity, especially of those in need, is our best hope for making America great again?

OK, now let's go to some issues where I think we actually agree, although you might not see it this way.

But let me try.

From what polls tell me, you voted for Trump because your economic situation is unstable: You don't have a lot of control over your job; your pay barely feeds a family of four; you worry constantly about the next round of layoffs.

I get that you may not have trusted Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally MORE to help you, and perhaps you don’t trust Democrats, period.

But I confess it does seem like my party offers the policies you'd be in favor of.

For instance, Democrats support things like minimum wage, unemployment insurance, affordable child care and family paid leave. You might have more reason to defend these policies than I do, right?

After all, poverty and unemployment are even bigger problems in red states than they are in the blue ones.

And why would you oppose public healthcare?

Here's how I look at it: We already rely on government to protect us against foreign invaders, as we can't do it alone. But we also can't fight the non-human invaders that surround us — the viruses, bacteria and environmental toxins — and we're certainly not always responsible for what they do to us.

Here too, then, why not pool our resources and fight these invaders together? Wouldn't that make America great again?

And speaking of health and safety, let's talk about another thing Democrats defend: government regulations.

Again, some of these policies seem more directed at your life than mine.

If anyone could do without regulations on things like occupational safety or the quality of my drinking water, it's me. My jobs have always been pretty safe, I don't live near a mine, and, frankly, doing without a lot of our regulations would probably lower my bills.

So why do I push for these economic policies?

Not because I'm a nice guy, and not because you and I are friends. As I admitted at the outset, and as you keep reminding me, I don't even know you.

I push for them because to me a great America involves not limited government, but one that's strong enough to ensure you get paid for what you do and don't have to starve or live on the streets when what you do doesn't pay anymore.

Does that make me a socialist? Not sure, and I don't much care.

From what I understand of your Christianity — and yes, I'm an atheist — perhaps it makes me a Christian. If a great America involves more religion in this sense, I’m down with it.

There's so much more to discuss. I haven't mentioned affirmative action, terrorism, the military, Social Security or free trade, but I'll leave it there for now.

Can we make America great again? We can, if by "great" we mean a country where you and I live together, not always in agreement, but with respect and compassion for each other.

And make no mistake — we do live together. Full disclosure: I may be a blue stater, but I live in a red one. I may even be your neighbor.

So take care, neighbor.

Hope to hear from you,

Your blue state compatriot.

Lindsay is an associate professor of political science and philosophy at Georgia State University and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.