WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rob Long and Caroline Melear don't agree on much, politically speaking. Long is the head of the Young Democrats of Palm Beach County. Melear is vice president of the Palm Beach County Young Republicans.
They do agree, however, that something has to change.
"What we do see online, what we see on TV, does spur actual anger towards each other as partisans -- that's the unfortunate reality -- and it is on our generation to have to try to heal that divide," Long said.
The two have become friends.
"Us coming together and being able to talk and agree where we can agree and respectfully disagree where we disagree is huge," Melear said.
Their goal is to lower the partisan divide.
"If you and I can work together to do things that are good for the community that we can mutually agree on, it's vital," Melear said.
"I think that's really an important example to set," Long said.
The hope is that their mindset trickles down to their respective groups. The two organizations have picked up trash together instead of talking trash during beach cleanups. They've also had brunches pre-pandemic.
"To show people that, 'Hey, in the real world, there's actually people working together despite our political differences,'" Melear said.
The pair is collectively fighting against the way people are engaging right now.
"'You think this, so you're stupid. You think this, so you're immoral,' and it's, like, how did we get there? How did we get to personal attacks instead of just talking about the actual things we should be talking about," Long said.
"Right, and it's such a dangerous thing that it's become so common," Melear added.
She said, in the end, they'll be the ones who live with it "for decades to come."
"Exactly," Long agreed.