He voted for Donald Trump. She voted for Hillary Clinton. Now that the bitterly contested election results are in, how is one St. Louis couple handling their discussions about politics, the White House and the future of the United States?
On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from Laura and Jim Radcliff of Kirkwood about how they come to terms with their political differences. They also shared insights on how they talk with each other when neither side is ready to budge on the issues they care about.
The couple has been married for 22 years. They’ve made it through six presidential election cycles. What can we learn from their discourse?
Their different positions
Laura said she was incredibly disappointed about the results of the election but not particularly surprised. She said she was focused on the idea of having the first female president and her worries over Trump’s rhetoric. That made her worry about both domestic and international policy. She’s also concerned about people being excluded from the benefits of a Trump presidency.
Jim, on the other hand, said he “falls into a category like a lot of the electorate” because he was disappointed in both choices — but he vehemently believes that you shouldn’t vote for someone just because of his or her gender. Clinton’s email scandal and contradictory policies and statements over the years made him distrust her.
“I felt like she would say whatever she wanted to get through the moment and then she would just go on and do what she wanted to do,” he said. “That’s my definition for most politicians though, so…”
Both were highly concerned about hateful rhetoric and just how nasty the election got. They hope that does not continue into Trump’s presidency.
“In terms of what I was concerned about with Donald Trump, I was one of those people who thought he was such a buffoon I never took him seriously,” Laura said. “The thing I had to wrestle with was ‘okay, now he’s going to be my president. How do I respect the office with a buffoon in it?’ That’s what I’m struggling with. But I’m going to try.”
Laura believes that the role of government is to fill a void that the private sector cannot take care of in a capitalist society. She worries that social services and healthcare access will take big hits.
“I worry that when a businessman tries to run the government, he might not see that,” she said. “He may not see there are things we need to do and provide that won’t have a positive bottom line.”
Jim, on the other hand, said he had big concerns about revamping healthcare.
“I feel like the current healthcare system was lied about when it was rolled out,” he said. “It turned out to be everything I feared: overpriced, undersubscribed. I don’t think we should go back to where we were necessarily, but you have to be realistic about healthcare and how we go forward providing services to people. People are inherently lazy: they will take path of least resistance. If we make it so easy that everybody gets everything handed to them, we are going to run out of people to go out and do the work. That’s a broad overarching statement, but you can apply that to a lot of things that are going on right now. It is insightful to think about that.”
“And I will continue to disagree with you on that point for as long as we’re together,” Laura responded.
“And that’s okay,” Jim said.
Talking about their political differences
Jim and Laura come from differently politically-oriented families. At Jim’s family’s Thanksgiving in Missouri, Laura expects she will be the only one of the 30 in attendance who voted for Clinton. If Jim were attending Laura’s family in New York, the inverse situation would be true.
“There are so many different religions, races, gender preferences in my family, there is probably more emotion involved with this election from that part of the family,” Laura said.
Jim said that Laura will be totally welcome to express her opinions at his family’s Thanksgiving and that she won’t get any flack for it.
How does that work? The two say they have respect for each other’s opinions and they try to dig down and understand why someone has the perspective they do.
“The way you react to somebody’s perspective is what makes a difference,” Jim said. “A lot of people don’t listen. They want to talk and tell you how they feel about things. That causes most of the problems.”
The two also said they use humor to cope.
It also helps that the two come from families that both value a strong work ethic, charity and how you treat the people around you with kindness, Jim said.
What they’ve learned through this election
Laura said that most of her female friends are Clinton supporters and that she’s heard their disappointment these past weeks.
“It is interesting to see the varying levels of emotions enter into the conversations,” she said. “It ranges from anger to sitting back and being hopeful about what is about to happen in this country. I’m angry too. But, thanks to you, [Jim], I realize I’m angry about my fears. I’m certainly angry about things that were said in this election, but I’m also angry about what I think might happen. I’m stepping back. I’m going to wait and hope and see what happens in the next four years. Let’s just hope it is as positive as you hope it will be.”
Jim said that the last election, he was excited about the prospect of Romney being successful because of his business acumen. He was disappointed in the result of the election and he felt blown off by Laura. So, he changed his tactics when the candidate he voted for won this time around to help console her and reassure her.
As for how it will all turn out in the end?
“I guess we’ll just have to have this conversation another four years from now,” Laura said.
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.