As I write this, there is a documentary crew in my home recording my dad to do his last campaign Facebook Live Town House Meeting. This has been a facet of my life for the past year or so, and is one of the strangest things I have ever experienced. Watching my parents in the public eye isn’t necessarily new to me. When I was four years old, they decided to move halfway across the country and start an “emergent” church. This choice was a manifestation of my parents rejection of the conservative fundamentalism that they grew up in, and was met with much controversy among their own friends and family. Their church has grown into an undeniably fascinating place of authenticity and counterculture, as it was one of the first to be openly accepting of the LGBTQ+ community and has been the driving force behind bringing a Syrian refugee family into Fayetteville, AR (where the church is located). This has often been met with criticism and confusion.

My dad is running as a Republican. This is difficult to explain, and I often find myself telling people that he’s “not that kind of Republican.” I do the same thing after telling people that my parents are pastors. He is endorsed by Brand New Congress, a “post-partisan” grassroots organization that looks at draining the swamp (Congress) and putting in everyday Americans who have actually made a difference within their communities. It was started by a bunch of Bernie Sanders people too so that allows for people to both call my dad “a snowflake libtard” and “a nazi-sympathizer” on the same day. After Trump won, my dad felt like America was inherently broken. He needed to figure out how to fix it, and here we are- a year and a half later- on Election Day eve.

So that is the history of this whole sha-bang. This has taught me something that America seems to have forgotten, or maybe never knew. That something is that nuance is the glue that sticks us all together. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming amount of people actually agree with another on the vast majority of issues. We draw conclusions about life based on our experiences and refuse to think about -or even acknowledge- the ones that detract from our ways of thinking. Not everybody is going to be cool with abortion, including my dad, but he is able to recognize that it is better for women if abortion is legalized. This nuance is something that I often lack while considering politics, as I have grown up in the  strict era of divide between Fox News and MSNBC. If we are going to survive the Trump era of American politics, we are going to have to talk to the coal miners in West Virginia, the hippies in California, the corrupt lobbyists in Washington D.C. and the people of color in the inner cities of the Northeast. When we actually are able to connect on human level, rather than over the guise of social media, then we will truly be able to overcome the issues that are impacting us. My dad is a Republican in the Trump era who is backed by a bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters. He is a white guy with a non-binary child and Latina daughter. He has been able to adapt and change his ways of thinking from Evangelical Fundamentalism to where he is today. The generations above me could take a page from his book and learn something about the power of love, authenticity, and humility.

Calvin Ryerse

Calvin Ryerse

Calvin Ryerse, 16, is an upcoming senior. He is a passionate activist, amateur filmmaker and critic, and works at a local fast food joint. You can connect with him at calvinryerse@gmail.com or his Instagram @calvin.carter

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