Donald Trump may not be the best thing to happen to our country, and that’s being kind. He’s done wonders for my marriage, though. Let me explain.
My wife and I just celebrated our anniversary: eleven years of marital bliss. “Bliss” includes the usual disagreements, fights, and gender clashes. In short, we’re a pretty normal couple. We haven’t regretted swapping “I do”s, and you won’t find any divorce lawyers lurking on our smartphone contacts.
We’re also polar opposites, politically speaking. Think James Carville and Mary Matalin, with a lower profile.
My wife felt the Bern as much as any Sanders devotee. She wants more taxes and believes the American dream is out of reach for many hard-working, low-income families. She used to toil for nonprofits. Now she works in state government, as the director of a large social program that helps vulnerable families and is funded by the Affordable Care Act.
She almost didn’t date me at first because my Mercury Cougar was too “fancy.”
I’m a Reagan devotee who yearns for smaller government and politicians who respect the Constitution. I can still taste the tears from Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss. I’m that rare, right-of-center film critic, and I spread my personal brand across a sea of conservative talk shows.
Suffice to say, we almost never talk politics at home. Not at dinnertime. Not right before we go to bed. We’ve tiptoed around it a few times, and bruised feelings typically result. Our politics-free policy has kept our marriage intact so far. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
We have had our, ahem, moments.
Our first few months together didn’t go smoothly. We were both on our best behavior, as is the case with most new couples. That didn’t apply to our social circles. Several times her friends slammed me as a “fascist” after learning I worked for the Washington Times.
Occasionally I was to blame for the mayhem. Like the time at a party I challenged my wife’s boss on her liberal politics. Not sure what I was thinking at the time, although beer likely muddied my judgment. Said boss ended up in tears. Miraculously, my wife felt no professional repercussions. I still wince when I think about it.
Another scenario had me shouting down a liberal during an otherwise apolitical photo-club meeting. She insisted that President George W. Bush started the Iraq War because he had nothing else better to do. Or a similarly daffy thesis. I should have checked out at that point, given the brain-dead argument in play. I didn’t. My wife sat in shocked silence as the woman and I went back and forth far too long.
That was ages ago. I don’t get into ideological debates anymore. Now, when I talk politics around my wife in public, I keep it exceedingly cordial. A Fox News producer would fall asleep if he heard me.
And then came Trump. The businessman’s rise caught everyone, including us, by surprise. Trump didn’t get name-checked by us at first. My wife assumed he would fade away during the primary process. I expected the same. Plus, we have two kids and demanding jobs. We didn’t need to talk politics on any level, even a superficial one.
My wife seemed genuinely sad that her party would square off against a candidate like Trump, even if it meant that the Democrats stood a greater chance of keeping the White House.
Then, reality hit. Hard. Something started to churn in the pit of my stomach as poll after poll suggested he was here to stay. The Trump Train wouldn’t be derailed.
My wife couldn’t believe her party would be squaring off against a candidate like Trump. She seemed genuinely sad about it, even if it meant that the Democrats stood a greater chance of keeping the White House.
I watched what seemed to be a deep Republican bench get demolished by a man who didn’t even know what “conservative” meant. I stopped listening to Rush Limbaugh after 20-plus years after he abandoned his conservative principles to run cover for a second-rate con man.
I needed to talk about Trump with someone. So did my wife. Slowly, cautiously, we began talking to each other about him.
Suddenly, we were having political discussions . . . and not sleeping in separate beds. He said what today? Who declined to endorse him again? We watched that epic John Oliver 20-minute Trump takedown together, our jaws simultaneously dropping (and staying dropped).
We began sharing the same Facebook posts, something we had previously done only when we had cute pictures of our children to spread. We’ve both become helplessly addicted to Trump stories. They appear every day. Trump is endlessly disappointing, but on a circus-like level he never disappoints.
It won’t last, of course. The polls indicate the jig may finally be up. That Trump Train may be out of steam, and his campaign will likely flame out in a yuuuge cloud of smoke and debris before it’s all over. We can’t wait.
Then, it’ll be back to normal for us. We’ll stop talking about politics again. I’ll go back to reading conservative websites on my Kindle come bedtime, while she scans her e-mail for Daily Kos updates.
I won’t miss Trump a whit. But in a very unpatriotic way I’ll miss the moment when my wife and I found some political common ground.
Turns out Trump is a uniter after all.