I like to think of myself as a fair, open-minded individual. I have my opinions, sure, but I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for holding a different set of views than I do. In the past, I’ve dated plenty of guys with whom I don’t always agree, like the guy who counted Phil Collins as a personal hero, or the dude who thought yellow was “his color,” and then there was the guy who wouldn’t drink Belgian beer because he said it was “un-American.” Un-American! He had a refrigerator full of Budweiser that I overlooked because that’s just the kind of flexible, open-minded person I am. Then I met M., and suddenly my own values were challenged. He was everything I thought I was looking for: smart, charismatic, kind, funny, and he drank the hell out of imported lager. He was even a doctor! Who needs to know the color of one’s parachute when a white coat looks so damn good? There was just one problem. It was an election year — and he was voting for the wrong guy.
I thought I could look past it. Certainly, if I could see past a guy’s alarming collection of Genesis memorabilia, I could accept a little difference of political opinion. And had it been any other election year, maybe I could have. But this was 2004, and tensions were high after the 2000 election debacle. The country was at war, and I, for one, had a hard time understanding how anyone could choose what I thought was the wrong candidate. If we were so passionately invested in opposing teams on this crucial issue, what other things would we disagree on in the future? Would he want to have a church wedding? Vacation at Disneyland? Raise kids in the suburbs? What if this one issue reflected all the other ways that we were so different? How on earth could I continue seeing someone I didn’t see having a happy future with?
But I did keep seeing him. I saw him all the way through election night. That evening, I joined him at his place to watch the returns roll in. I even brought over some beer (Belgian beer, natch). And for a while, when it still looked like my guy had a chance, I thought maybe we stood a chance, too. Hey, as long as my team kept winning, I didn’t see any reason why the doctor and I couldn’t have a healthy, happy relationship. But by the end of the night, when it was clear his side was victorious, it was clear I had to end things. In that moment, I just couldn’t see past our differences. His dimples, his wit, the way he looked in that long white coat before he left for work in the morning — none of it mattered in that moment when everything about him represented everything I thought was wrong with our country. So I dumped him.
Since then, things in our country have gotten worse, but personally I’ve never been happier. This election year I’m with a new guy. He, too, is smart and kind and funny, and though he isn’t a doctor, he’s got something the last boyfriend didn’t have: he’s got my vote. I’d like to say he’d have my vote regardless of who had his, but lucky for me we’re rooting for the same guy, and I don’t have to test that theory. He and I certainly don’t agree on everything (like how many hours of baseball-watching is appropriate, for example), but it’s nice to know that whatever the outcome is tonight, I’ll have him not only by my side, but on my side. I’d even toast an American beer to that.