A Lake Charles-based artist, Sally was a progressive Democrat who in 2016 primary favored Bernie Sanders. Sally's very dear friend and worl-traveling flight attendant from Opelousas, Louisiana, Shirley was an enthusiast for the Tea Party and Donald Trump. Both woman had joined sororities at LSU. Each had married, had three children, lived in homes walking distance apart in Lake Charles, and had keys to each other's houses. Each loved the other's children. Shirley knew Sally's parents and even consulted Sally's mother when the two go to "fussing to much." They exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts and jointly scoured the newspaper for notices of upcoming cultural events they had, when they were neighbors in Lake Charles, attended together. One day when I was staying as Shirley's overnight guest in Opelousas, I noticed a watercolor picture hanging on the guestroom wall, which Sally had painted as a gift for Shirley's eleven-year-old daughter, who aspired to become a ballerina. With one pointed toe on a pudgy, pastel cloud, the other lifted high, the ballerina's head was encircled by yellow star-like butterflies. It was a loving picture of a child's dream--one that came true. Both women followed the news on TV--Sally through MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and Shirley via Fox News's Charles Krauthammer, and each talked these different reports over with a like-minded husband. The two women talk by phone two or three times a week, and their grown children keep in touch, partly across the same politcal divide. While this book is not about the personal lives of these two women, it couldn't have been written without them both, and I believe that their friendship models what our country itself needs to forge: the capacity to connect across difference.
Arlie Russell Hochschild (Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right)