Lives in: Arlington, VA
Job: Program officer for an international development nonprofit
Party affiliation: Democrat
You told us in your questionnaire that your most “unpopular opinion” is that “The progressive lurch of the Democratic Party could be its Achilles heel in 2020.” What exactly did you mean by that?
“What I'm getting at is this tension I feel. I identify as pretty progressive, but I'm concerned about the candidate, whoever we nominate, who's going to attract the largest amount of votes in the states that are needed to win this election. Elizabeth Warren is, in my opinion, the most qualified, the best candidate. But Joe Biden polls well. I was at a work event talking to somebody who said, ‘I'm a conservative, but I've always loved Joe Biden.’ And this was somebody who lives in the state of Wisconsin.
“States like Wisconsin, states like Pennsylvania, places where maybe in 2016 Hillary didn't do so well, these are states that you may have a large base of voters who don't necessarily like Trump, but don't necessarily want a progressive candidate in 2020. So I'm torn because I am somebody who wants a very progressive agenda, but I also want whatever's going to win, whether it's the presidential election, or the Senate and House elections.”
You also said that since Trump has taken office, you avoid engaging with people who outwardly support him. Could you say a little bit more about that?
“Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area is largely pretty liberal, but obviously we're the capital, so you will have people that are Republicans. There are people here that work for the administration. There are jokes in the media about people that support Trump having a hard time with online dating and all that. I have a few acquaintances and people in my social circles, a friend, for example, who is a bit of a professional mentor who came up and was in a pretty high-ranking position within the Department of Defense during the Bush years. He’s a Republican and is always sympathizing with Mitch McConnell, and I still engage with him. We'll have debates, but he's not so outrageous that he won't listen to what I have to say, and he does not like Trump either. Whereas I went to school with an individual who voted for Trump and we would have debates as well, and they were respectful.
“I was looking for a roommate for an apartment. This was about a year ago and we had signed the deal. We had agreed I would be her new roommate and then she saw that I posted a meme that was poking fun of Trump. The night before I moved in, she was like, ‘I can't live with someone who disrespects our president.’ And my thought was, ‘Well, I'm glad it didn't work out.’ I've become a little more savvy. There was definitely a part of me that's like, yes, I don't want to associate with people that flat-out support Trump, but I live in a town where you have to be savvy about speaking out about your opinions on some of these things.
“If at this point I were to come across somebody who supported Trump, I would be careful. I would kind of tread softly, just because, again, I live in a small town, so to speak. In D.C. everybody knows everybody, and you don't want to risk burning bridges just because you have a different point of view on politics than somebody. I guess what I'm trying to say is on a professional-network level, yes, but on a personal, more close-friends level, no, not so much.”
Why do you think that is for the personal-friend level? Is it a moral issue for you?
“Yeah, for me it's a moral and values issue. I can't associate with somebody who supports his position on immigration, his position on the role of the U.S. in the world, somebody who is backed by the Evangelicals and people who have these very problematic and frankly, in my opinion, backwards views on LGBTQ people, people who are gender-fluid, immigrants.”
As far as the Democratic Party, which parts of the platform do you agree and disagree with?
“As a whole, I'm pretty progressive. I would say I feel pretty strongly about reproductive rights and abortion access, about LGBTQI rights. I'm for, broadly speaking, increased taxes particularly on the wealthier top 1 or 0.1%. When looking at the presidential candidates, I'm strongly in favor of Warren's student loan cancellation plan. I even endorse Bernie Sanders’ plan for student loans. When it comes to issues on foreign policy and national security, I would say I'm part of the bipartisan consensus that foreign aid is good. I oppose the kind of neo-cons that we saw through the Bush years and I'm against an isolationist policy that Trump is in favor of. I think the United States’ presence overseas is good.”
Do you think there are issues that have moved too far to the right or left? If so, which ones?
“Both gun control and abortion have become extremely partisan and moved too far to the right. We're not doing enough for gun control. We should push for more broad, sweeping reform. I think members of the Democratic Party are increasingly supporting a more gun-restrictive agenda, which is good, because I think for a long time we've had a lot of current members of Congress who support friendlier gun policies. I think we can do more to limit access to guns and how we conduct background checks.
“On the issue of abortion, I think the right is becoming more and more extreme. I think we are seeing members of the Democratic Party, particularly more progressive ones, speaking out more on how we need to protect a woman's right to choose.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.