Karlyn Borysenko LINK Normally when I publish content online, I focus on the world of work. I hope you’ll forgive this brief departure, but I think that those of us on the left need to take a long look in the mirror and have an honest conversation about what’s going on. If you had told me 3 years ago that I would ever attend a Donald Trump rally, I would have laughed while assuring you that was never going to happen. Heck, if you had told me I would do it 3 months ago, I probably would have done the same thing. So, how did I find myself among 11,000+ Trump supporters in Manchester NH? Believe it or not, it all started with knitting. You might not think of the knitting world as a particularly political community, but you’d be wrong. Many knitters are particularly active in social justice communities and love to discuss the revolutionary role that knitters have played in our culture. As a casual knitter, I never really paid attention to this. I knit as a way to relax and escape the drama of real life, not to further engage with it, but for anyone who is active in the knitting world on Instagram, it became almost impossible to avoid it. It started about a year ago when roving gangs of online social justice warriors started going after anyone who was not lockstep in their ideology. People were bullied and mobbed by hundreds of people for such offenses as publishing an article expressing excitement about going on a trip to India, posting a video saying they were leaving IG because they were uncomfortable, and posting a poem asking for kindness. Katherine Jepsen Moore has documented the full stories extensively and the BBC recently covered it as well. I started paying attention after one man who was attacked got mobbed so badly that he had a nervous breakdown and was admitted to the hospital on suicide watch. There was something that was not right (well, so many things really) and it witnessing the vitriol coming from those who I had aligned myself with politically was a massive wake up call. You see, I was one of those Democrats who considered anyone who voted for Trump a racist. I thought they were horrible (yes, even deplorable) and had worked very hard to eliminate their voices from my spaces by unfriending or blocking people who spoke about their support of him, however minor their comments. I watched a lot of MSNBC, was convinced that everything he had done was horrible, that he hated anyone that wasn’t a straight, white man, and that he had no redeeming qualities. But when I witnessed the amount of hate coming from the left in this small, niche knitting community, I started to question everything. I started making a proactive effort to break my echo chamber by listening to voices I thought I would disagree with. I wanted to understand their perspective, believing it would confirm that they were filled with hate for anyone that wasn’t like them. That turned out not to be the case. The more voices outside of the left I listened to, the more I realized that these were not bad people. They were not racists, nazis, or white supremacists. We had differences of opinions on social and economic issues, but a difference of opinion does not make your opponent inherently evil. And they could justify their opinions using arguments, rather than the shouting and ranting I had seen coming from my side of the aisle. I started to discover (or perhaps rediscover) the #WalkAway movement. I had heard about #WalkAway when MSNBC told me it was fake and a bunch of Russian bots. But then I started to meet real people who had been Democrats who had made the decision to leave because they could not stand the way the left was acting. I watched town halls they held with different minority communities (all available in their entirety on YouTube) and I saw sane, rational discussion from people of all different races, backgrounds, orientations, and experiences. I joined the Facebook group for the community and saw stories popping up daily of people sharing why they are leaving the Democratic party. This wasn’t fake. These people are not Russian bots. And moreover, it felt like a breath of fresh air. There was not universal agreement in this group — some were Trump supporters, some weren’t — but they talked and shared their perspective without shouting or rage or trying to cancel each other. I started to question everything. How many stories had I been sold that weren’t true? What if my perception of the other side is wrong? How is it possible that half of the country is really overtly racist? Is it possible that Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real thing, and had I been suffering from it for the past three years? And the biggest question of all was this: Did I hate Trump so much that I wanted to see my country fail just to spite him and everyone who voted for him?