Can a Democrat be friends with a Republican?

A male liberal assistant professor in central Florida is forced by circumstances to hang out with, to be friends with...conservatives.  Republicans.  Horrors!  As he writes in the New York Times

I had friends, plenty of friends. If I wanted more, they would be liberal, super-educated friends who could do rhetorical back flips over the Fox News jargon I was sure these husbands would spout if politics ever came up, which, were I to lead this group, would never happen.

But, as he surprisingly discovers about his new friends

I realize now that my prejudices against conservatives were, in many ways, just as uncompromising as the prejudices I'd often projected onto them. They were just people. Not issues. Not votes. People whose daughters go to school with my daughters, whose dogs run away and come back and run away again, whose hands found my shoulders and who didn't judge, the night I wept over a friend who had taken her own life. 


A guy in my group will say that people on welfare don't want to work, and if they don't want to work then they shouldn't have kids, and if they have kids then those kids should be taken away. I'll want to shriek, but I know this guy. If his sister lost her job, he'd take care of her and her daughter. If he couldn't afford to, then he'd want the state to step in. No way would he consent to seeing his niece dragged away because his sister couldn't pay her bills.

He's not a cruel person, just someone who's been taught cruel rhetoric. The failure isn't one of empathy, but imagination. That single mom could be his sister. He just hasn't seen that yet.

And Mr. Assistant Professor isn't a dumb person, just someone who's been taught silly rhetoric.  The failure isn't one of understanding, but a closed mind and limited experience.  That single mom could be someone who realizes she and the father of her children have to work hard to support their children and resent having their money forcibly redistributed to others.  He just hasn't seen that yet...and probably never will.

Nevertheless, he still wants to be friends with Republicans.  Awww, how tolerant.  And maybe they will want to be friends with him.