A good friend died the other day.
Years ago we began with the same political views. Independent was the label we preferred. No dogma. No narratives. No political correctness.
Then came Trump.
We thought he was the right medicine for our country. A guy who wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. Who befuddled political pundits by having supported both Democrats and Republicans. Who drove the media nuts.
You could put him nose to nose with Putin. He would never crack.
We listened to him as we carpooled to work. It felt good. We reveled in the idea of being winners. It had been a while. Sure he was a bully, but he was our bully.
It was easy to like him. No matter that he was a demagogue. There was little risk of him winning.
When he finished strongly in several primaries, that all changed. My friend was elated. Me, less so.
Trump’s presence in the races lowered the bar for everyone. Instead of examining issues, the candidates began trading insults.
Trump’s so-called straight talk had felt good for a while. Now it seemed mean and shallow. I’d known guys like this in the schoolyard.
I thought my friend would come around. Instead, he doubled down on The Donald. “Leadership,” he said, “is all that counts.” He wanted to believe that Trump’s approach could work. But, deep inside I knew he was struggling.
I switched to a moderate candidate. Not likely to win, but at least civil.
When I broke the news to my friend it strained our relationship. We stopped having dinner.
The more bombastic Trump became, so too did the other candidates. I felt my friend’s stress level rising.
The other day we stopped for a drink after work. In the background on an overhead TV, Trump bombarded the other candidates with personal attacks. They responded in kind. It sounded like a gaggle of drunken teenagers.
My friend was unusually quiet.
He placed his arms on the bar and lay down his head. When it happened, no one called an ambulance. My friend just slipped away, leaving me alone with the maelstrom raging in the background.
I didn’t cry. I knew we were both better for it because, you see, he was also me.
Malcolm D. Gibson
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