The Karens: can friendship trump politics?

Karen Ward and Karen Cotter live in the town of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. There is one thing on which they really don’t agree: politics, and in particular, Donald Trump. Yet despite everything that sets them apart, these two women have become close friends and believe there is a way to heal the political rift that has torn apart so many communities in the past four years

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Karen Cotter and Karen Ward live in the town of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania – the state that decided the election for Joe Biden last weekend. Karen Ward is a deeply religious former police officer who, despite growing up in a Democratic household, backed Donald Trump in 2016 and voted again for him this month. Karen Cotter, who is a liberal, believes Trump is a “menace to society”. Yet despite their opposing political viewpoints the two women have become close friends, drawn together by their shared horror at how divided their country has become.

They tell Michael Safi about how an argument in their local town over a wedding dress and a same-sex marriage bought them together in friendship and how they believe changing the way we communicate with one another could help heal the rift that has torn apart so many American communities. Michael talks to Anushka Asthana about the turbulent political period we are living through and why meeting the Karens left him both optimistic about the relationship they have built but also concerned about whether this can be achieved on a wider scale.

For more information on Braver Angels, the organisation that Karen Cotter and Karen Ward joined which works to bring together people from different political persuasions, go to braverangels.org

Archive: YouTube; Facebook; Fox 56

Karen Cotter and Karen Ward
Photograph: HANDOUT
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