Twenty-four years ago this week I watched the election returns roll in on a television inside a quiet, unceremonious White House.
My boss lost.
It was a sad, emotional night. There is no more helpless feeling than watching your job evaporate while pundits spin the race like air-filled cotton candy in front of your eyes.
But, eventually, when I realized there was no undoing what had been done, I gathered my things and got into my car to drive across the 14th Street Bridge into Virginia. I just wanted to go to my house.
My house. Where I lived with Republicans … and Democrats.
Sounds crazy, right? Sure it does. In this age of un-social media divisiveness, people spew their vitriolic views like it’s their job, never mind that “those idiots” they freely post about on their walls are actually — gasp — their friends.
Why then, on this most emotional of evenings, did I want to go to my house, where the “enemy” was waiting for me?
The enemy wasn’t waiting for me. My friends were.
You see, we were just a group of wide-eyed, optimistic believers in truth, justice, and the American Way. We viewed those ideals differently and we worked on different sides of the aisle, but at the end of the day we all wanted the same thing: To live, to love, to laugh. To make a difference. To live in a country where we could have our many passionate political discussions, and then, when the sun set, we let it go.
It seems recently people have forgotten to let it go.
My friends and I knew the words we poured out over dinners on our screened-in porch and walks on the National Mall weren’t going to change anything that happened in the White House, and we certainly weren’t going to let them change anything that happened in our house. All of these people did not share my political views, but it didn’t matter. They were my people, and I was theirs.
We all understood the obvious truth: The inhabitants of the White House change. But the inhabitants of our house? We were in it for the long-haul, and we placed a high value on our friendships.
Your “house” is made up of your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your co-workers. You may have differing views from all of them. But … most of these people aren’t going anywhere, and it’s unlikely you will change their political opinions on, well, anything.
Today’s breaking news is tomorrow’s litter box liner. But those people in your house? They’ll likely be around for awhile.
So if you find yourself tempted to zing someone with a one-liner, or even unleash a diatribe, ask yourself if it’s worth the cost of the relationship. You may just realize that your house is more important to you than the White House.