The Current

After U.S. midterms, voters describe friends, families drifting apart over political divide

Heated rhetoric in the U.S. midterm campaign has increased divisions between voters, including among families and friends.

Relationships breaking down over political allegiances

Supporters rally for Republican candidate Ron DeSantis, in Coral Springs, Fla. on Oct. 28. DeSantis won the race to become Governor on Tuesday. (Julie Crysler/CBC)

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The split congress delivered by the U.S. midterm elections has laid bare the divisions felt in the American electorate, right down to families and circles of friends riven by politics.

Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in Tuesday's midterm elections, but Republicans retained control of the Senate, marking the start of a split congress through to the 2020 election.

Lifelong Republican Marie Kresge left the political party over U.S. President Donald Trump's political style — and it's cost her some friendships along the way.

"I just couldn't, in all consciousness, be associated with a party … whose nominee was either a racist himself, or at the very least, was willing to exploit racism for power," Kresge, from Brooksville, Fla., told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

I remember Emmett Till, I remember Medgar Evers, I know what our tree at our courthouse square was used for.- Marie Kresge

Her decision led to a rift with a woman she had known for 34 years. But Kresge said her objections are born out of concern for her mixed-race grandchildren.

"I was around in the civil rights days. So I remember Emmett Till, I remember Medgar Evers, I know what our tree at our courthouse square was used for," she said.

"I've been through those days, and I don't want to go back there."

Marie Kresge was a lifelong Republican until Donald Trump won the presidency. (Submitted by Marie Kresge )

Cindi Stevens voted for Barack Obama twice, but decided to vote for Trump in 2016 because he was outside the establishment, and "not a career politician."

She doesn't see the racism that Kresge described.

"I have no idea what she's talking about," she told Tremonti.

"I don't see racism anywhere in my life, amongst Trump supporters, people who are lukewarm on Trump — I don't see his racist behaviour."

Cindi Stevens voted for Trump because he wasn't 'a career politician.' (Submitted by Cindi Stevens)

Stevens has lived in D.C. for 20 years, and currently works in a low-income school in northern Virginia, where there are students from many different cultures and "there's no drama, there's no conflict."

"I just don't see it and I've never seen it," she said.

While her relationships with fellow Trump supporters have grown stronger, Stevens has lost some friends, including her son's godmother.

She said that the breakdown of those relationships was "not really" hurtful.

"If anything I appreciate diversity of thought, and freedom of thought, which is partially why I really like President Trump," she told Tremonti.

"To me, he represents the ultimate freedom to be able to say and think what you want, and I think that should apply to every American."

Michael Noker has had a strained relationship with his mother since she became a Trump supporter. (Submitted by Michael Noker )

People should 'listen to minorities'

Michael Noker's mother raised him "to stand up for the underdog." But in recent years, they've clashed as his mother threw her political support behind Trump.

Noker, who is a gay man from Albuquerque, N. M., believes that people need to take the complaints of minorities more seriously.

"If a minority is telling you that they're experiencing something, then I think you should take it seriously, and I think that you should trust their views," he told Tremonti.

"I've heard from a lot of people on the other side that they're not seeing racism, they're not seeing homophobia, they're not seeing sexism. But they're not really taking the time to listen, and really take to heart what we're telling them."

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page.

Written by Padraig Moran. P​roduced by Alison Masemann and Danielle Carr.


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