In the age of Trump, there’s no escape from partisan politics. Americans can’t even work out without witnessing squabbles over the president. A YMCA gym in Greater Scranton, Pa., banned 24-hour news networks from its TVs last week because members kept having heated political quarrels that threatened to turn into fistfights. “Turning off the news,” the YMCA said, “could help lower stress levels.” The workplace has become another battleground. Since the election, nearly 50 percent of workers have seen political discussions between colleagues turn into arguments, according to a survey by software firm BetterWorks. Those clashes continue outside office hours. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 16 percent of Americans had stopped talking to a family member or friend because of the presidential contest. Gayle McCor mick, a 73-year-old retired prison guard from California, split from her husband of 22 years when she discovered he backed Trump. That revelation, she said, was a “deal breaker.”
This acrimony is unsurprising. As the partisan divide has hardened, rival political views have come to feel like attacks on your very identity. In the eyes of many Trump foes, the president’s supporters are bigoted know-nothings who admire an aspiring authoritarian. To his fans, Trump’s opponents are smug, out-oftouch liberals who couldn’t care less about the struggles of real Americans. In this black-an d-white world, civil political discussion can become impossible. Yet we have no choice but to share the country. To get along, we might need to borrow an idea from college campuses and create “safe spaces” where Republicans and Democrats can talk about anything but politics. No more chatter about Washington at the office water cooler. No expressions of outrage and disgust at the gym. No mention of Trump at family gatherings, or even between spouses. To avoid a daily civil war, Americans need to strike a deal: Don’t trigger me, and I won’t trigger you.
Managing editor ■