Dear Amy: My neighbor "Joe" and I are friendly political rivals.
Joe is a liberal Democrat, while I am a conservative Republican.
There is no animosity between us. We each have lawn signs supporting our preferred candidates.
The problem is that Joe’s daughter refuses to bring his grandchildren to visit while I am displaying my sign.
Joe has asked me to take down my sign so that his daughter will bring the children over.
I have agreed to do so, if he will take down his signs, as well.
Joe has agreed to do so, but his daughter will also NOT visit if he takes down his signs.
My stand is that we both display, or we both take down.
I am willing to compromise, but not capitulate.
Am I being unreasonable? — Don
Dear Don: You and Joe are geniuses. Joe’s daughter, however — not so much.
What a missed opportunity for her to point out to her children that neighbors can be on opposite sides, politically, and still be friends!
But of course, she does not want her children to learn this valuable lesson.
Her rejection of your and her father’s completely fair (and balanced!) compromise to her demand is a reflection of her limited capacities, and I can assume that her father is very disappointed.
Dear Amy: My soon-to-be father-in-law "Carl," decided to cast his vote for Donald Trump because, as he said: "I think I will be able to retire more quickly with Trump’s stock market."
I teach at a university and my specialty is race and diasporic studies.
My Ph.D. is in African/African Diasporic studies, and I am flummoxed because after Carl’s proclamation, my partner’s family has decided it isn’t worthwhile to have a discussion with him because he is going to do whatever he is going to do.
I find this utterly untenable. I think Carl needs a serious wakeup call to the racial, social, and health issues that are at stake, and further, I think someone should let him know how selfish he is being. I get along well with him and I have been with my partner for six years, so it’s not like I am new to the family dynamic.
My question is, even if my fiance doesn’t think it’s worth it, can I still contact Carl and make my case? — Frustrated Future Daughter-in-law
Dear Frustrated: You should absolutely go for it and take it upon yourself to educate your future father-in-law on the subject of your Ph.D. studies.
But, before you do, it might be helpful for you to understand that someone who claims he is voting only about the stock market and his retirement package is not likely to acknowledge that anything else is important to this country, because it is not important enough to him.
I think it would also be useful to acknowledge what you no doubt already know: that this country will continue to struggle, strive, and move in sometimes unfortunately violent fits and starts toward a new racial understanding, whether or not "Carl" is enlightened. This is happening right under his nose, even if his head is currently in the sand, and will continue to happen, no matter how he votes.
No one in Carl’s family is specifically asking you not to engage with him; I infer that they are implicitly trying to tell you what I am trying to tell you, that your words might be wasted and your effort unappreciated.
But yes, my opinion is that you should do your darndest to urge Carl into a more enlightened understanding of racial issues. However, branding him as "selfish" because he has decided to vote along his own narrow metric wouldn’t be helpful. When you are trying to engage and educate someone, criticizing their character will usually inspire them to close the door to further conversation.
Dear Amy: "Devastated" presented a tale of woe, concerning her (now ex) boyfriend’s statement that she was the "right person, wrong time."
Thank you for the translation: "This guy is trying to break up with you."
I went through a similar experience. I wish my former girlfriend had just said, "I’m breaking up with you," instead of what she did, which was to hint and hedge and basically drive me crazy, until I finally gave up. — Experienced
Dear Experienced: I’ve been there, done that, and — like you — didn’t get the memo. It is very time-consuming and embarrassing to essentially have to help someone break up with you.