I dated a Democrat and I probably never will again.
After I studied abroad in Israel, I immediately flew to D.C. and began a congressional internship in a Republican office.
On my second day as a timid intern, I ate lunch alone in one of the cafeterias. As I was finishing, a man in his mid-twenties approached me and asked me to watch his binder to reserve his seat as he went to order his food.
“Weird,” I thought, remembering the warnings I had about overly-confident congressional staffers who take advantage of the young people labeled with green intern badges.
When the man returned, he asked if he could sit next to me and I said yes, eager to make more friends in my new workplace. He then asked in Hebrew if I was from Israel.
Confused as to why he’d ask me this question, I said “no,” and then realized he had noticed the necklace I was wearing, which spelled out my name in Hebrew. We began to discuss Israel, and I loved every second of our conversation.
If you’ve ever spent an extended period of time in a foreign country with beautiful weather, you know the begrudging feeling when you have to come back to your real life in the U.S. and once again worry about rigorous academics, bills, and internships. This man, whom I’ll call Tom, made me feel like I was still in my happy place studying abroad, learning languages, and exploring a new culture.
We concluded our 15-minute meal, and he invited me to dinner hosted by a pro-Israel organization the following week. I happily accepted, having enjoyed our conversation and interested in networking with others who share my passion for Israel. You see, Tom was enthusiastic about the pro-Israel movement and talked about the absurdities on college campuses surrounding this issue, even condemning the far-Left for being openly hostile toward Israel. Not once did I even consider that he was actually a Democrat.
I didn’t think we would be romantic at this point. It’s Washington, D.C. — everyone networks and is generally nice to people who share their ideology or work experience.
So, I went to the dinner. We mingled with others, ate great food, and had a fun laughing together at an eccentric woman at our table who was overly enthusiastic about everything while hooting and hollering at the speakers. We had a great time.
As he was walking me to the metro station, we started talking about our careers. He told me he worked for a freshman congressman from New Jersey whom I’d never heard of.
“Wow, he won in a blue state?” I asked.
“Yeah… why wouldn’t he?” Tom responded.
“What do you—wait. You’re a Democrat?” I asked with surprise.
“Um… yeah?” he said.
He had known I was a Republican, I just never even considered that he was a Democrat. We were too busy talking about other things for me to even care whom he worked for.
“A pro-Israel Democrat?” I asked.
“Yes. My boss is very moderate. And there are many pro-Israel Democrats.”
This is where I need to put a disclaimer. Tom was not and is not a Social Justice Warrior. He is a moderate Democrat, but that doesn’t mean our values don’t conflict quite a bit.
A few weeks later, we hung out again, and this time, it was definitely a date. Still, I avoided politics and we were around many other people. Working in Congress makes talking politics often tiresome.
On the next date, things got interesting. He invited me to his house to cook a Shabbat dinner. Again, missing my study abroad experience, I was enthusiastic. But this setting allowed us to really get to know each other.
The topic of politics came up quickly, and I realized that we had very different beliefs — and initially, I loved that. But then things got heated. It quickly became clear he had not debated many conservatives besides me. And I, the “Lone Conservative” at an all-women's college, had the upper hand because I did not get too emotionally invested in debates, as I was constantly in them at college.
Tom was getting frustrated, and couldn’t believe how I could be so against abortion, or how I could be for completely abolishing, in my opinion, inefficient government agencies (shout out to the IRS). And I was having fun. I felt like I was back on my college campus where I was so quickly vilified that I’d often take harder-line conservative positions simply for the amusement of watching my peers in disbelief that someone had such a different worldview than their own.
I’m not quite as moderate as he is, but I know how to compromise. Yet in these debate settings, I sometimes set that aside and like to debate just for the sake of debate.
That’s how a debate turned into an argument on the third date.
But, I still liked him, so we went on another date, and another, and another, until we started to spend lunch together every day and officially started a romantic relationship.
“How did we do it?” you might ask: We avoided politics.
We weren’t unhappy; to the contrary, we got along. But, I felt like I couldn’t bring him around in my conservative circles. For me, politics consumes my life, and it has for years. When I’d go to conservative networking events, I felt like I couldn’t invite him. When my conservative friends threw parties, I didn’t bring him.
To me, I was protecting my friends from a Democrat spy (though he clearly wasn’t) and protecting myself from him embarrassing me by getting worked up easily.
But then, I invited him on a road trip with two of my friends, a conservative couple.
Talking to my friend, I warned her that he’s a Democrat and that it was best to avoid politics. She thought this was hilarious since she and I didn’t really know how to talk about anything else when we’re together.
The 10-day trip started out smoothly. We went to Vegas, then Arizona, then Utah. That’s when it went downhill. Spending days in a small car with people you’ve only known for months can be stressful, especially when you add in hiking, camping, and avoiding politics.
But then politics came up, and Tom got quickly frustrated. The latter half of the trip consisted of intermittent bickering and arguing. Being around another couple with shared values and plans to get married made me open my eyes and truly consider if I could ever marry Tom, or if it was just a summer fling.
I believe that opposites can thrive together and that political beliefs are not important for everyone. But for me, family and children will be everything one day, and I want to raise my children with very specific values. This could be a problem since even some family values caused conflict between me and Tom. Additionally, as someone who works in politics, ideology is very important to me.
After the trip, I couldn’t wait to leave both Washington, D.C. and my bipartisan relationship.
I was ready to go back to the Democrats I only had to see in class, instead of the Democrats I decided to take an interest in romantically.
And so the relationship ended, but our friendship did not. To this day, we still regularly talk and bond over the main thing we have in common — our love for the pro-Israel movement.
At a time when we have Democratic congresswomen like Ilhan Omar promoting anti-Semitic tropes, I’m glad Tom is out there trying to keep support for Israel alive in his party.
Every time I visit Washington, D.C., we get dinner, and I’m happy to say that last time I saw him, he told me his dad is a big fan of The Daily Wire. Maybe next time I see him, he will be too.