The euphoria was contagious. Car horns clamored through Brooklyn. Under the arch in Grand Army Plaza, brass bands spontaneously serenaded dancing crowds. My neighbors shrieked, and from building to building, the city echoed with cheers: Joe Biden had been elected President.
I was happy — most of all, to see others’ joy. But I was also worried about everything the election results didn’t automatically fix. What about the farm workers still risking illness without hazard pay, the burned-out nurses facing another COVID wave, the racial justice protestors facing draconian charges, and the children of immigrants who still haven’t been reunited with their parents?
And what about our most intimate relationships? Political division isn’t something the past few years of American politics created; it is, rather, something recent events have merely exacerbated and revealed. Differences in political opinion with our loved ones go deeper than mere politics, and deeper than the past few years. Instead, they often implicate our most dearly and deeply held values, our sense of self and dignity, and the standards we hold in our communities and relationships.
When the car horns fade and the peaceful transition of power begins, how can we heal the wounds inflicted by political division on our relationships? And — perhaps more importantly — should we? I spoke to Talkspace therapist Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D, LPCC-S, to find out.