Two Congressmen drive to DC

A “Bromance” is Born on a 1,600-Mile Drive to DC

They’re fierce opponents on opposite sides of the aisle. But two Congressmen put politics aside and did their own version of Carpool Karaoke by sharing a 1,600 mile drive from Texas to Washington, DC to arrive in time for an important vote.

Reps. Beto O’Rourke (D) and Will Hurd (R) live-streamed their trip and people tuning in loved it. Can’t their budding bromance become a model for other opposing members of Congress? Can’t it influence how we collaborate with people we work with, doing what’s right for our company even if we personally don’t agree? Can’t we discuss our points of view with people without the conversation dissolving into a screaming match?

The Ride That Went Viral

Rep. O’Rourke suggested they share the driving when their flights to DC were weather delayed and then cancelled. It was a little awkward at first. But soon they were singing “We’re the best of friends” along with Willie Nelson.

Cooped up together what choice did they have but to lower their defenses and begin to connect with each other? At the end of their arduous trip in a rented 1999 Chevy Impala they toasted each other with donuts: “Cheers Buddy.” Here they are in a video they made with a smart phone on the dashboard:

Can’t We Just Talk?

Their trip lifted my spirits. It showed that people with opposing points of view can find common ground. I’m not alone in being dismayed by the partisan bickering in Congress that’s spilled over into so many friendships and family relationships.

Just recently, I noticed that I wasn’t seeing the Facebook posts of my nephew’s wife, who is conservative. I discovered she had unfriended me. Yet just a little more than a month ago I sat next to her and my nephew at a family wedding. We cautiously didn’t discuss politics and, after a little awkwardness, found common ground in other subjects. We had a good time.

How has it come to the point where we can’t discuss current affairs even with our closest friends and relatives? I did a little research and different sources suggested that a primary reason is that we become angry when our point of view isn’t acknowledged. We start raising our voices, because we want to be heard. But are we acknowledging the other person’s right to his or her point of view? I think we’ve cemented our views to the point where there is no room for discussion.

It didn’t used to be this way. Congressmen from different parties were friends after “work.” They dined together, and even shared living accommodations. That’s all changed and politicians are barely civil to their opponents.

I personally can’t remember a time when our differences were so polarizing that family members stopped speaking and friendships wilted. I don’t want that to happen. So I’m going to open my mind and heart to other points of view. I don’t have to agree, but I do need to listen.

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    • Susan — that’s all we can do is hope — and maybe throw in a prayer once in a while. I honestly think the whole country is depressed.

  1. The reason why I’m really not a fan of politics (aside from the fact that I just don’t get it) is that it tears relationships and friendships apart. So I love that this post shows that people can still get along despite their political views, and I’m personally a sucker for a good bromance. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rosary — Well, I hope we can start having more conversations with each other. Maybe we’ll all get tired of being angry all the time.

  2. You are so right, Jeannette. When did it become impossible for us to have differing views with our friends or family members? I’ve never been big on discussing politics and this has all made me go even further underground with my opinions. That doesn’t help dialogue one bit, does it?

    I’ll stay open along with you.

    • RoseMary — It’s difficult to start a conversation with someone who holds equally strong views as you. What’s sad is that it’s like the elephant in the room and colors your conversation, even about other topics.

  3. Agree with you completely that it’s essential to be friends no matter what political views you hold and to cooperate for the good of the country.

    But I think it’s completely out of hand in the US with a president and administratioin constantly lying. And the fact that POTUS’s followers usually get their news from fake news site makes the matter even more complicated. They are living in another world that doesn’t exist. As you know, I removed an American woman that I don’t know from Facebook because she was constantly insulting me because I don’t approve of what Trump is doing. Started by trying to discuss with her. But how do you explain that Breitbart is not a credible sort of news to someone that’s brainwashed into relying on that site for news and keeps on insulting you? If I had known her it would have been different. But I don’t so bye, bye.

    • Catarina — unfortunately, our President also gets his news from Breitbart and other far right media. He treats their lies as facts. So when a commentator on Fox News said he had evidence that former President Obama had tapped Trump’s phones, he didn’t bother to have his intelligence team check it out before his defamatory tweet.

  4. Interesting topic. Here in the U.K there has been much unrest with citizens voting out of the European Union. Some have used this as an excuse to air their racist and facist points of view. It is unsettling and many non British citizens are concerned about their future.

    I am happy to walk side by side with people who do not share my views but I will not tolerate talk that demeans others.

    • Phoenicia — Civil discourse is degenerating around the world. I don’t how it started on this path, but our own President has encouraged it and it seems to getting worse everywhere.

  5. Absolutely, Jeannette. We’ve got to respect and accept the views of others, even if we don’t agree with them. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, as long as we’re not hurting someone in the process. That certainly is difficult in some cases, but that’s the way it’s got to be if we don’t want to isolate ourselves.

    • Doreen — Agree and the problem is that civility has gone out of discourse. So many conversations in this volatile political comment degenerate into shouting matches.

  6. I believe we may have different views from each other but still, there can be some connection on which we can connect!
    What say?

  7. in 2000 or 2002 I traveled to Mauritius (east of Madagascar) to facilitate a week of management training. One thing among many that I learned is that the very mixed culture knows teamwork and HOW to listen was their number one strength. Even some of the comments I read in your post show that many of us, are not listening from the get go.

    Mauritians listen to UNDERSTAND first. In my experience, even in some of my own listening, many of us listen to RESPOND. It’s what we respond with that likely is the tell tale of – are we really listening? The Mauritians listen to find – a point of agreement. Anything could actually work.

    There is a huge gulf in our listening over our USA politics right now. We almost immediately begin DISCUSSING but discussing from our point of view, meaning digging our heels in deeper on our beliefs. Really? How is that listening? It simply means – we are listening for what we want to hear. We judge, we jump to conclusions. I find it easier to talk with those who disagree with me on anything, politics included, when I listen for the big picture. In that I can usually find a point of agreement and then can more civilly converse.

    There are many studies and articles about this kind of listening, and lately, many articles about why we are NOT going to change our beliefs. There’s some crazy technical term for this I can’t remember although the main conclusion I can summarize, we each have our own beliefs and keep trying to find evidence to support those beliefs, rather than – listening to find common ground.

    (all caps are just for emphasis not yelling)

    Oh dear, I could go on and on about this Jeannette. Let me go back to saying – thanks for sharing this video and the experience of the 2 Congressman. I cannot HELP but wonder why the heck the media didn’t report more on a relatively positive experience!

    • Patricia — I agree and confess that I often am thinking of my response as soon as I pick up on the topic instead of listening to everything the other person is saying. You’re right, we’re lining up our arguments about why our points of view are right. Thanks for writing such a long and thoughtful comment.

  8. This is such an important issue! I saw this piece on the news recently, and it’s encouraging. Unfortunately, in the same feed, there was a story about a couple who had been married for nearly 3 decades getting a divorce over their political differences.

    But let me be completely honest – while I continue to be a passionate believer in free speech (whether I agree with the speaker or not), I would be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with this issue myself. I’m working to understand all sides of the stories thrown at us each day, but I will not condone lying, cruelty or cheating and that is non-negotiable. I think most of us feel a bit like we’re attempting to go upstream without a paddle right now. 🙂

    • Marquita — I agree that we don’t necessarily have to agree with someone else’s opinion but I stop engaging when the conversation degenerates into name-calling and belittling my points of view.

  9. I rarely think the ‘good old days’ were actually all that great upon reflection. However, I do believe that politicians have become less civil to each other over the last twenty or so years. I hope the example in your post shows others that they can be decent to one another even if they strongly disagree.

    • Jen — I read today that in the “old days” members of both parties would dine together in the Congressional dining room. They don’t anymore. Instead, they caucus with their own party members at lunch. What a wasted opportunity.

  10. This is a great video. Imagine what can happen when people just get together and talk about stuff and can do so without blowing a gasket.

    • Jeri — I agree and that’s why I used it. Was refreshing to see two Congressmen of opposite parties actually laughing together.