Greenville—NC I googled “politics and friendships” looking for a particular quote. But, what I got was so much more interesting—and so very unexpected.
It never really dawned on me the actual number of friendships a person can lose over politics. That topic wasn’t what I was looking for when I googled, but—considering the past few weeks—it does seem rather serendipitous I came across the subject.
I’ve seen friendships end because of marriage. I’ve seen friendships end because someone moved to the other side of the country. I’ve even seen friendships end because of religion. But, it never crossed my mind that a person could lose a friend—a real friend—over something like politics. To me it’s kind of like someone telling you their favorite color. I wouldn’t necessarily get mad and not speak to someone—or call someone names—if I found out their favorite color was red and mine happened to be blue. Or, their favorite basketball team wasn’t my favorite.
Now, I know you’re thinking that politics is a lot more important than someone’s favorite basketball team—and you’re right. But, my point is that a true friend is way more important than politics!
When I googled the subject of friends and politics—like I said, I was looking for a quote. But, what I found were many, many articles about how politics and friendships sometimes don’t mix. So, I thought I’d share some personal experiences here and a few observations hoping that you can avoid some of the pitfalls of what seems to be (sadly) a more common experience than I’d realized.
We all focus on friendships from different perspectives and from different vantage points. So, it’s important to figure out what a friendship is…what it is to you and then what you think it may mean to the other person.
My autocorrect word dictionary (the same dictionary I cuss every single day) describes a friend as : 1) a person you know well and regard with affection and trust; 2) an associate who provides cooperation or assistance; 3) or, simply a person with whom you are acquainted.
Each one of these definitions are really very different in meaning. I primarily focus my blog and Facebook accounts on politics—and that is what I’ll focus on here.
So, when it comes to politics, which definition does your friend fit into…1, 2 or 3?
Types of friendships—Good to Best:
All of us have number three friends. They’re like Facebook friends. I mean that in a good way, not in a “I don’t know who the hell you are but I’m gonna friend you anyway”—kind of friend. We see them at committee meeting sometimes, we know their names, etc. But, they’re not the kind of friends you would necessarily call up on the phone.
The number two friends are the people we work with: what I like to call the project friends. They help you with Get Out The Vote in your county. They keep you up to date on the next meeting or training session. These are more than just Facebook friends, you depend on them and they depend on you to get the job done.
The number one friends are what I would consider the “real deal.” They’re the friends you’ve known for a while, you trust them, you think they would say the same about you. And, if you’re like me, you really don’t worry too much about pissing off your number one friends because you know if you said something they didn’t like they’d just call you and you’d work it out. They’re the friends who’ve got your back when nobody else does.
But, what happens when you and one of your best friends have a “falling out” over a political issue? It doesn’t have to be a big issue. Little issues can become big when they fester and escalate to the point of loud voices and name calling. By that point, it’s sometimes too late to mend the fences.
I’m not talking about anyone in particular—it’s just that over the years, I’ve had experiences with political friends that didn’t turn out well because we disagreed on issues. Some small issues that became big and some big issues that became even bigger. I learned, in the end, it’s all about communication. Don’t let it break down. If you’ve got a sinking feeling in your stomach that a friendship is headed in the wrong direction—and if you care to salvage that friendship—talk about it. Talk about it before it’s too late. Number one friends don’t come around all that often.
You know when your gut is telling you something. And, if you have that feeling you can bet your friend is thinking something similar—but both of you are too damn stubborn and too bullheaded to admit it.
Look, there are way too many primaries and way too many general elections for you to start losing good friends. There are enough issues we can agree on to offset most any county, district or state issue or disagreement.
Once the name calling and mudslinging starts between good friends, even over politics—you can’t take it back. You can’t unring that bell. Trust me when I say this: life is way too short and real friends are way too scarce to lose them over something that you can prevent. I’ve had arguments with people from years ago—now, five years later—I can recall the argument but I can’t really remember what we started fussing about in the first place.
All it takes is a little communication. And, in the long run you’ll be glad you took the time to work it out. There have been many times I look back and wish I had.
Oh! I found my quote–
I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. —Thomas Jefferson
Keep the faith!