The Trump verdict in New York inspired a lot of Democrat commentary on social media. On Facebook in particular pictures of Trump dressed as a witch, behind bars, or bathed in tears were not uncommon. On a personal level, I found it odd that so many of the anti-Trump posters on FB had Irish sounding last names: to me this called to mind the slow erosion of Ireland into a pagan country, as well as what’s happened to many of the Irish in Philadelphia — their capitulation to the woke agenda as manufactured by the corrupt Biden administration. 

One FB page I follow — Astral Plane — posted several anti-Trump screeds and got the predictable number of supporting comments from the largely LGBT crowd (who celebrate Madonna) and who have been hopelessly brainwashed into thinking that Trump is anti-gay just because he doesn’t support the surgical mutilation of children — without parental consent — in the name of transgender rights. 

These people took delight in the New York verdict and some saw it as the end of the so-called “red wave,” as well as Trump’s high poll numbers. 

I reminded these Trump verdict celebrators “to hold on tight because what’s coming will prove that this is a multicolored wave that will get bigger in time.” I might add that the injustice and rigged nature of the Trump trial was reflected in the opening salvos of the Hunter Biden trial with Jill Biden in the courtroom sitting in the first row facing the judge with Hunter, his wife and another family member, all of them forming a kind of bulwark or warning to the judge and jury not go the Judge Juan Merchan route and convict a Biden. 

Still, the problem remains: how to deal with pathological anti-Trumpers. 

All of which brings me to the end of my friendship with Mandy and her husband George (not their real names). 

Mandy grew up in Bridesburg; she is the mother of one son who died years ago of an overdose. For years she worked as a social worker. I’ve always viewed Mandy as a gregarious social butterfly with a big heart. I met her in a Port Richmond restaurant while dining out with a friend. She was seated across from us and because we were the only people in the restaurant, she introduced herself. We became fast friends. “Fast” as in an invite to a gathering she was hosting the very next week. 

Mandy did a lot of her socializing in her small home in Port Richmond. Her much larger, suburban home, in Bucks County, was where she and her husband lived. 

It didn’t take me long to realize that Mandy was a collector of people. She made friends easily — overnight — and her cast of characters included uncountable people from many different worlds. During the Covid lockdown, I loved it when Mandy hosted an Easter dinner for ten in her Port Richmond home. These were the days when the city disapproved of private gatherings above five or six people. The city even urged neighbors to report other neighbors for ignoring this rule. Mandy, to her credit, laughed at this restriction and vowed that nothing would prevent us from celebrating Easter. 

George, Mandy’s husband — a bookish sort with a soccer player’s build — worked for Amtrak. The demands of his job meant that he was away a lot. I liked George. He seemed to be a stable balance in Mandy’s free-spirited life. 

Soon Mandy was inviting me to her house in Bucks County when George was away on business. She told me she hated to be alone in the big house which was near a forest. Would I like a vacation from city life and stay with her for a few days? When work permitted it, I was eager to leave the city and so I joined Mandy in her home where we’d watch movies, go out to eat, visit thrift stores or just hang out. Sometimes Mandy would beg me to drop what I was doing and come out and stay with her. Once she offered to pay me for staying at her place with her. I told her no because staying with her was generally fun. Besides which, I was treated to a series of home-cooked meals. 

Before my visits with Mandy ended, George would usually come home and I had a chance to get to know him.

George was a die-hard Democrat and a supreme Trump-hater. When I say supreme I mean he was the King of Trump haters. Once he complained bitterly — and endlessly — because a co-worker of his was a conservative Trump supporter. 

George also lived and breathed MSNBC and CNN. He was in love with Rachel Maddow. The moment he got up in the morning he’d turn on MSNBC and complain about the Democrats and Trump. George knew that I was a writer and that a lot of what I wrote was social-political commentary. He was aware of my conservative bent although I was careful when around him to avoid political debates or arguments. George was a seething volcano when it came to politics, while Mandy claimed that she was apolitical — which wasn’t quite true, but I’ll get to that.

Like many Trump haters, George liked to interject politics in the middle of a pleasant gathering. Just as everybody was getting along, he’d grumble something about Trump. Last year he started saying that Republicans were a threat to democracy and urged me to vote Democrat even though he knew I was Republican “so that democracy can be saved.” The man actually believed this stuff, which made me question his bookishness. What kinds of books was he reading? 

Mandy had cautioned me not to “get into it” with him, so I’d usually let him have the last word. A lot of Trump supporters stifle themselves this way when there’s a rabid Democrat in the house. Still, I thought that George and I had a respectful friendship despite our political differences. He could be quite charming and funny, and I enjoyed watching a lot of movies with him and Mandy — that is, until the anti-Trump beast in him surfaced. 

Four months ago, Mandy called me and asked if I would like to spend several days with her. She said that George was going away on business and she dreaded being alone in the big house. I told her I could stay three days but not the five that she requested. We agreed to that and I took the train out to meet her in the suburbs. 

Mandy had recently returned from a trip to South America and I noticed a slight change in her. She seemed less able to focus. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. We had a good time anyway doing the usual stuff — thrift stores, food shopping, dinner and conversation. This happened to be the time when Frontpage magazine published a column of mine on Taylor Swift. Since I couldn’t post the column to my Facebook page at Mandy’s house, I took the liberty of posting it to Mandy’s page as a temporary measure until I could get it on my page.

My crime was delaying in removing the post because by the next day, at breakfast, George called Mandy and asked who put that “stupid Taylor Swift thing” on her Facebook page. I explained to Mandy that I had posted it because I could not access my own page. I apologized for tagging her with the column and offered to delete it on the computer upstairs. Mandy accepted my apology but said she would delete it. I watched as she took out her phone and tapped away in what I thought was an erasure, but the next morning in the car with Mandy, George called her and angrily wanted to know why the Taylor Swift column was still there.

I apologized again — the column was highly pro-Trump and anti-Biden — and imagined that George was having a major nervous breakdowns. Once again, Mandy seemed to brush it off. “I’ll take it off,” she said to her husband. 

“But I thought you took it off last night,” I said. (No answer.) 

That evening we were in the kitchen preparing dinner when I complimented Mandy on a spectacular looking crystal liquor decanter on her dining room hutch.

“Oh you can’t have that,” she said, “That’s a gift for George from a client. So, hands off.”

Had I just heard what I heard?

“You’re joking, right? You know I’m a wine drinker, besides which I would never do that sort of thing.” 

Mandy did not laugh but kept a straight face which seemed odd to me. In retrospect, this was a red flag, and her “police talk” to me about staying away from the decanter I saw as part of the mental disconnect she seemed to be exhibiting since her South American trip. In some ways, she was not the same woman. 

I forgot about the weird decanter exchange during dinner. Mandy and I watched a movie and then went to bed. 

The next day Mandy drove me home. When we got to my house she got out of the car and we hugged and kissed good-bye. Later that day I sent her a text about something I had bought at our favorite thrift store. I followed that up with another text when I didn’t hear from her. Then, after a week passed and I still hadn’t heard from her, I asked her via text if everything was okay.

That’s when George sent me a series of text messages, saying that Mandy was through with me. George, it seemed, was under the impression that I had sought out my three- or four-day “vacations” at their house on my own and not at the beck and call — demands, almost — of Mandy. He then mentioned the Taylor Swift episode and crowned his comments with the charge that I had gone into his gift crystal decanter and consumed some of his Jim Beam. 

His text messages to me seemed to seethe with the toxic fumes of Trump Derangement Syndrome. 

George brushed off my denials, called me a liar and said that I was no longer welcome in his home. “You were the only one in this house besides Mandy, and Mandy doesn’t drink and I was away, so it had to be you.”

Yet George was wrong. Because I could only stay three days, Mandy had one of her nephews fill in the gap until George got home. She talked about my replacement during the visit and described him as “a rough around the collar sort of guy.” In other words: someone who didn’t exactly fit the description of a teetotaler. 

Three weeks later, I happened to glance at Mandy’s Facebook page and saw a huge anti-Trump post.

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), a tired cliché in many ways, is nonetheless a real phenomenon. Over the last several years it has affected my brother — a Vietnam War veteran and avid Trump supporter — in his relationships with cousins on my mother’s side who have asked him point black whether he liked Trump. When he answered in the affirmative, he was told, “Don’t ever call this house again.” Although most of my family is pro-Trump, one sister still struggles with TDS. No phone call to her is complete without an unflattering Trump dig.

In George’s case — in his black horn rimmed glasses, George resembles

New York judge Juan Merchan — TDS has grown to occupy his soul. A friend, commenting on George’s obsession with Trump, asked me if George has a religion, to which I replied, “He is a fallen away Catholic. He has no religion.” So many rabid liberals are atheists and agnostics. 

But in the end they have to fill those empty spiritual gaps with something, be it Rachel Maddow, or lies about a pro-Trump friend who stuck his nose and mouth into a crystal Jim Beam decanter.

Thom Nickels is a Philadelphia-based journalist/columnist and the 2005 recipient of the AIA Lewis Mumford Award for Architectural Journalism. He writes for City Journal, New York, and Frontpage Magazine. Thom Nickels is the author of fifteen books, including “Literary Philadelphia” and ”From Mother Divine to the Corner Swami: Religious Cults in Philadelphia.” His latest, “Death in Philadelphia: The Murder of Kimberly Ernest” was released in May 2023.

8 thoughts on “Thom Nickels: When politics comes between friends”

  1. So let’s see if the author’s points actually hold up.

    People who supported anti-Trump posts had Irish sounding names. Is this a plot by the Irish and how has Ireland become a Pagan country? How have the Irish in Philadelphia capitulated to a woke agenda?

    The author knows full well that anyone under the age of 18 has to get parental permission and medical authorization before having any medical treatment. Especially anything regarding gender transition.

    Just like Trump had family members and elected officials sitting in the courtroom during his trial, the Biden’s have that same right. Unlike the Trump trial no one is threatening the court employees and their families or making statements telling the judge not to put Trump in prison.

    Then there is his belief that anyone who does not support Trump suffers from TDS and has a pathological hatred. Along with the author’s perpetual sense of victimhood. It’s not his fault that he injected his politics onto his fictitious friend Mary’s Facebook page by posting his column on her page rather than his own. It’s not his fault that he won’t talk to his fictitious sister, because he injects his political beliefs in a public forum

  2. Thom, this is one of the most moving and painful essays I e read in the TDS phenomenon. It can apply to other syndromes as well, noted among liberals during the Bush and Reagan eras, but it reached its full flower under Trump. I still have good friends who can navigate political differences, but I actually welcome losing the ones who display both a shallow intellectual curiosity, loyalty and a fear of being criticized. Beautifully written.

    1. Given Ms. Flowers narrow world view and her eagerness to block anyone she disagrees with on social media. Ms. Flowers displays both a shallow intellectual curiosity and a fear of being criticized.

  3. Oh, so it’s Biden family’s fault that Trump family chose not to be there with him at the courthouse during his trial? That speaks volumes about Trump’s family values and relationships than it does of Biden.

    And what were you doing posting your political beliefs through someone else’s account? Wasn’t that ‘politics coming between friends’?

    You sound one big hypocrite, and I’m not even judging for your labeling Irish as leftists or even Taylor Swift

    1. Now that Hunter judgement is out, do you see anyone from Biden family or democrats shouting ‘rigged systems, conflicted jury, corrupt judge’?

      1. You mean the case that almost never came to a courtroom because of a sweetheart plea deal with a friendly justice department and a Delaware special counsel investigator that got blown up by a district judge?
        Not even the leftist, dumbest democrat, nor even the defense legal team could argue against the evidence presented here, all thanks to Hunter’s laptop, which would have changed the 2020 election if not for interference by the FBI, Justice department and main stream media in discrediting its validity.
        No one has demonstrated that the judge in this trial has any conflict of interest (like Mecham in Trump’s trial), and the jury pool was from Biden’s home state fiefdom.
        Apples and orange (man bad)s here.
        Can’t wait for the tax evasion and the influence peddling trials start.
        You know what else is great about this? If loser Hunter gets off with a wrist slap, it’ll show that democrats allow leniency in punishing gun crimes, counter to their gun control 2nd amendment protests. Oh the irony.

        1. We with Irish surnames who are American citizens by way of arrival during the late 18th through the 19th century to present are allowed to be biased against an incompetent and purposefully reckless Biden administration.

          1. Do you mean the same Joseph Biden referred to here; “Of Biden’s sixteen great-great-grandparents, ten of them were born in Ireland. He is descended from the Blewitts of County Mayo and the Finnegans of County Louth. One of Biden’s great-great-great-grandfathers was born in Sussex, England, and emigrated to Maryland in the United States by 1820.”

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