Dining across the divide US special: ‘He said it was my opinion that humans caused climate change. No, it’s science’

He’s a Republican, she is a Democrat – can they find any common ground on the climate crisis, taxes or the truth about the Capitol attack?


April, 48, Boulder, Colorado

Occupation Massage therapist

Voting record Democrat. April says: “I have always had liberal views”

Amuse bouche April has a dog “the size of a squirrel”. She’s an artist and does graphite illustrations


Ted, 59, Boulder, Colorado

Occupation Sales manager

Voting record Republican. Voted for Trump twice, but doesn’t defend him – “I think he was kind of a jackass, the way he carried himself in public”

Amuse bouche Ted, who is one of April’s clients, almost died after jumping into a supposedly dry stream to retrieve a golf ball. He got stuck waist-deep in mud and his friends had to fish him out with a pole

For starters

April I don’t usually hang out with my clients, but it wasn’t awkward. I’ve known Ted for a few years and we’ve developed a comfortable relationship. Still, there’s a different power differential when the person’s naked on the bed and you’re not.

Ted At the beginning, we were joking about whether this was going to be a cat fight. But it didn’t turn out to be; it was a lively debate. Before I left for the dinner, my wife told me: “Remember, it’s OK to have different opinions!” I went there with an open mind.

April I had oysters on the half shell, half a steamed lobster, a cup of gumbo, key lime pie and a pinot grigio. I didn’t know you could get such good oysters in the middle of the country.

Ted I had mussels and a bowl of gumbo.

Ted and April sitting at a restaurant table

The big beef

April We got swept up in talking about the climate. He believes climate change is real but doesn’t believe humans are responsible.

Ted She kept using the word “exponentially”. And I just don’t know for sure if humans are powerful enough to change the course of events on Earth to the extent she thinks we can.

April I was emphasizing that if you look at history, the speed of climate change is unprecedented. It took thousands of years for the magnitude of change we’ve caused in one century. And he didn’t agree. He kept saying it was my opinion. I’m like, no, it’s science. There’s research.

Ted Another point of contention was transitioning to green energy. I think we should continue to use fossil fuels until we get the clean energy ready to go and then transition, like the market would have you do. She’s ready to make the change now. She thinks the oil companies are profiteers. I think we’re in a capitalist society and they’re just making money. It’s very expensive to go out and find oil and gas. I don’t think they’re taking advantage of us.

Ted and April sitting at a restaurant table

Sharing plate

April We agreed that politicians on both sides are insanely greedy. They all seem to think they should be allowed to invest in stocks while in office. We both think Washington is a swamp.

Ted Neither of us have trust in politicians. They’re going to pander to whomever they’re trying to talk to, but it’s like professional wrestling: you’re arch enemies on TV, and then you go out and share drinks.

Ted and April sitting at a restaurant table

For afters

April We had a hard time understanding each other’s perspectives around inequality and taxation. He has more experience in economics, but I have more experience living at the lower end of those economics. I think corporations and top executives need to be taxed more and have their bonuses revamped.

Ted There’s plenty of money to go around. Instead of just throwing money at an issue, we need to manage it better. Take education: I think there’s local corruption. The teachers’ unions are a problem. We should get the local people out of there and have it run by outsiders.

April January 6 came up. We had very different views of what happened. We ended up steering away from the subject because we knew nothing productive was going to happen there. We would end up in a situation where he wouldn’t be coming back to see me ever again as a client if we continued on that subject.

Ted Supposedly there’s a video they’re going to release that shows the FBI had a number of agents dressed as Trump supporters at the rally. I don’t think the whole thing was a setup, but my opinion is they’re trying to do anything they can to keep Donald Trump from being in office or running again.

Ted and April sitting at a restaurant table


Ted We had some common ground, but she was pretty adamant on her views and I wasn’t going to back down on mine. I think people pull themselves up, they work hard, and get successful. She has more of a victim mentality. That shapes how she sees things.

April Ted’s a great guy and he’d give you the shirt off his back. But nothing will change his mind on the climate. There’s a lack of trust in anything that comes out of our side. That’s what he was calling it. He was like: “Your side, my side.” It became an argument rather than a debate at that point.
Additional reporting: Kitty Drake

• April and Ted ate at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar in Boulder, Colorado.

Want to meet someone from across the divide? Find out how to take part


Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

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