Friends and Politics

I keep seeing posts from both sides regarding reactions to this election, and I feel I need to make one distinction very clear, from my perspective. What I want to discuss is the difference between civility and friendship, as well as the difference between agreement and respect.

This discussion supersedes personal political beliefs. You may not have liked Clinton’s politics, and you may have been turned off by the scandals the media perpetrated. Fine. I’m not here to debate that, because it no longer matters.  I’m not judging you for your stance on pro-life vs pro-choice. I’m not judging you based on your deeply held religious beliefs. I likely do not share them, but I can respect that you have them.  I’m not judging your stance on immigration, welfare, healthcare, or any of the hot-button issues that make up a political debate. I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where you have to choose your friends based on what party line they subscribe to – although, believe me, between our President-elect and his Vice President, I’m terrified. But this is different. Presidential candidates of past elections have had many different platforms and stances on issues, and we voted based on which side of the fence we fell on such issues. The debates could be heated, but in general we all could move past it. For example, despite what many may think, I did not vote for Obama in either election. Shocking, I know. However, though I did not vote for him, I greatly respect him as a president and leader of our nation and hold zero ill will for those who supported him during the 2008 and 2012 elections. Some of his policies aren’t to my liking, but overall he has had a very successful presidency.

 

“For the first time in anyone’s living memory we have elected a candidate who actively, publicly, and unashamedly stands for hate.”

 

The difference with this election isn’t the platforms, or which political party or candidate you identify with. There’s something greater than that. For the first time in anyone’s living memory we have elected a candidate who actively, publicly, and unashamedly stands for hate. For the first time, we have a candidate who promotes violence and discrimination over tolerance and respect.

Now, when one disagrees with another over a political issue or candidate, both parties are still entitled to the respect of others. That we can all agree on. We can also agree that in order to establish a friendship we have to have some kind of common ground. We have to believe that those we choose to share friendship with have a certain moral integrity, certain views on humanity, and certain views on basic decency. Friendships can develop around shared interests, work or social places, and even politics. But as I said, this is about more than political position. While I do not have to agree with your views, I do have to respect them. However, while I do have to be civil toward you, I do not have to be your friend.  If you have elected to vote for hate, I can assure you that we do not share the same beliefs regarding humanity and basic human decency, which is something I value in true friendships.

The silver lining for me is that Clinton won the popular vote, so on a mere technicality we can say the “majority” of the country did not vote for hate. However, if you were one of the many Americans that said yes to a leader who degrades women; thinks his wealth and television popularity are justifications for his atrocious behavior; publicly humiliates and condemns individuals in every class that is outside of healthy, white male; and is a documented hypocrite then I’m sorry, but I cannot be friends with you. What this means isn’t that I’m refusing to associate with those whose political beliefs differ from mine. I’m more mature than that, and as I’ve explained this isn’t about the politics of the situation.

 

“But this is about the difference between basic human decency and pure hate, and I cannot call someone a friend if they’ve chosen to be represented by the latter.”

 

As a human being with a sense of decency and professionalism, I intend to treat those I meet and have to interact with for one reason or another as I would anyone who shared my opinion on this matter. I do not discriminate based on your politics. But this is about the difference between basic human decency and pure hate, and I cannot call someone a friend if they’ve chosen to be represented by the latter. But I cannot support or respect your choice, and I cannot be your friend. If this means we must part ways, I wish you the best. But do not call me out as being narrow-minded because and pin my decision and my opinions on a difference in politics and a refusal to consider another side, because it’s not. If you want an embarrassing confession, I voted for McCain in 2008 – so I have considered your side. But as I’ve grown and learned, I’ve realized that that isn’t the direction I want the country to go. I’ve also realized that I don’t have to be friends with people who I believe do not share my views on common human decency. Actually, I’ve found it’s far less stressful if I don’t. I do have to treat you with respect when I interact with you outside of social media, and I will. But I do not have to be your friend.