Do Politics and Friendship Mix?

Tuesday’s a big day folks. Election time.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of my friends are on the same side of the election fence. More often than not, we pick pals with similar values to our own. So I haven’t had to deal with much political infighting amongst my friends, or even any awkward dinner conversation.

But we all know the rule: no politics or religion at the dinner table. It can be a tough subject to avoid at this time of year.

In the past I had a very close friend with whom I didn’t see eye to eye. He loved getting into political battles with me. I chose instead to say “I’m not talking about this with you.” I knew he wouldn’t change my mind and I wouldn’t change his. I also knew that the conversation, at least on my end, could only lead to frustration. I didn’t want to like him less, and I was worried that if we got to deep into debate, that might be end result. So we chose to cool it, and talk more about everything else we did have in common instead of the one thing we would never agree upon.

But that was many years ago. Now we live in separate cities, and don’t see each other or talk nearly as much as I would like,  so we won’t have what I know would be a heated debate this year.

Still, this time of year does make me think. Political seasons can be the end of friendships. Or at least a controversial time between a Democrat and her Republican bestie.  So you tell me: Ever lost a friend, or gotten in a real fight, over politics? Does the “no politics at the dinner table” rule still hold up? Or that too old-fashioned?

18 Comments

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18 responses to “Do Politics and Friendship Mix?

  1. Anonymous

    My best guy friend is of the opposite party. We’ve had very open conversations about our political views, but it’s never affected our friendship. I think one of the main reasons is because we don’t aim to change each other’s minds; we just explain why we believe in that party and which views of theirs we support. I think we respect each other enough, even though we know the other is voting for the wrong party. 🙂 Interestingly enough, my girlfriends of the opposite party avoid bringing it up. We all know we disagree, but we never feel the need to talk about it to each other.

  2. Nancy

    We get into political discussions in the faculty room around the lunch table occasionally. Seems like most of the teachers I work with belong to the wrong party (I will never understand). I have had to walk out of the room on occasion, but I will also express my opinion once in a while. I know who I can talk to and who to generally avoid. We manage to get along OK, but I will be glad when this election is over!

  3. Cher B

    I have typically enjoyed a healthy exchange of political views with my friends and family. Discussing politics and current events can be very interesting, but it seems that people are too polarized in the current political climate. I have definitely lost respect for friends and colleagues not because their opinions differ from mine, but because of their utter contempt for the opposing view or party. Agree to disagree but not to disparage. A little civility could go a long way to bring people together.

    • amommys2cents

      I agree. I can’t talk to my family about this election because they believe people in the opposite political party are bad, ignorant people and the candidate they like has no faults.

    • Emily

      You have put into words what I have been feeling this entire election, thank you! I, too, have lost respect for friends because of their “utter contempt”, not because of differing opinions. I even lost respect for those whose political opinions were the same as mine but they expressed those opinions in such despicable manners. Thank you thank you thank you!

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  4. Christina

    I try to avoid talking about politicians and their views on abortion with people who are ultra conservative, because I find that they just don’t hold the same views as I do about a woman’s right to choose.

  5. I avoid talking politics with one friend of mine because not only is he not going to change but he’s legitimately ignorant of the things he’s supposedly against. We almost came to blows yesterday over his thoughts on Habitat for Humanity (him: I don’t support giving houses to people who don’t have jobs and don’t pay taxes. because that’s how Habitat works) and I consider him a hypocrite for supposedly supporting Christian values but not actually doing anything to back up his claims. Because he doesn’t agree with helping people who are clearly just homeless by choice.
    That’s why I can’t talk to him about politics because if I do I’ll end up not liking him anymore.

  6. LOVE THIS POST. My husband and I went to break fast at his sister’s and inadvertently got into a very uncomfortable conversation with the date of one of her friends. It was awful and awkward.
    It became a “hot button” issue which should have been avoided. We do have the same no politics/religion at dinner policy, but we knew almost everyone attending this annual dinner. And, the girlfriend was always with our point of view. Where did she find HIM?
    There is usually a hint of what direction a person leans by who they are with or I sometimes ask what TV station they watch for the debates. If someone says FOX NEWS, we just can’t have a rational talk on this subject.
    I can’t wait until this election is over and hope Sandy helped our side.
    THE END.

    • Unsolicitedious

      Re “If someone says FOX NEWS, we just can’t have a rational talk on this subject”

      Well no wonder your dinner conversation became awkward; I suspect that your inability to have a rational discussion with those leaning towards the right is more to do with your tendency to make comments like that than anything else.

      Ideology doesnt preclude rational discussion, but the attitude and character of the person advocating them does.

      • Let me clarify, I can’t have a rational conversation with someone who says that life begins at conception. And, then that person says that if an 11 year old mentally retarded girl is raped by her uncle she should not legally be able to have an abortion.
        If you believe the above to be true and right, then stay away from blogs that often have controversial viewpoints.
        I admit that this year’s election became more heated than most, but I would prefer to have a conversation over music, theater or books than politics that go against everything I believe in.
        You must admit that you, too, were being judgmental.
        I’m ecstatic Obama won!

        • Unsolicitedious

          I’m not American & find American politics odd & rather undemocratic (esp given very low voter participation) so not phased either way.

          Sounds like you have had some rather interesting & heated debates at the dinner table – yes music, theatre & books are far more preferable.

          I only passed judgment on your assumption that right wingers are not capable of rational debate. There are always fools on either side. The trick is to pick them & ignore them🙂

  7. amommys2cents

    I used to love to talk about politics but I don’t any longer. I’m registered with one party but I’m truly an independant and I’ll be voting for the other party this election. I discovered that a recent aquaintence has opposite views than mine and I’ve decided it’s better not to bring up this election with them at all.

  8. thetemenosjournal

    I love talking politics and as a Canadian/American I have a unique perspective. Just recently my Dad & Step-mom came up to attend my partners funeral, and the Romney/Obama election did come up. Both her and my Dad grew up in rural NC. My Dad’s more liberal minded himself. She, on the other hand, is a lovely, sweet, non-drinking baptist church attending republican. Most of my friends would normally have dive-bombed her political beliefs. However, we’ve had the discussion with her before. So, rather then talking we’ve choose to listen. Now, while I still don’t agree with her, I do at least understand her perspective and I respect it. Its difficult, I think, to really talk politics if you don’t even “understand” your opponents POV. So that’s my 2 cents.

  9. During heated moment of politics in my country (not the US), I’ve disconnected with some of my friends because of the different standpoints. However, after 2-3 years have passed, we were back to reconnect again. But, we still keep in mind that politics is the taboo topic among us. It’s quite ridiculous when thinking back to the time that we had arguments due to the dissimilar political believes. Time passed and friendship heals.

  10. This year seems to be more heated than other years. Even without directly talking about politics, this year’s election leaves an uncomfortable tension in the air.

  11. Anonymous

    Had a “friend” who called me, “stupid, uninformed” and “close-minded” because our political views differed. Seems that because I’m African American I’m SUPPOSED to be a Democrat…I claim neither party. Seems that those who want acceptance and claim “intolerance” are unaccepting and intolerant of any opposing views! Sad…4 years from now it’ll start all over again…*sigh*.

  12. Unsolicitedious

    Yep. I have experienced something similar to anon above who “had a “friend” who called me, “stupid, uninformed” and “close-minded” because our political views differed”.

    I have also been called racist because I said I would not deliberately move from our currently lovely, peaceful neighbourhood to a low income one that had a high crime rate, high gang association rate & high truancy at the local schools. The funny thing is that they would never do what they were asking me to do which to me is hypocritical.

    I used to be on the same side of the political fence, but found my values changed as I realised that idealism is all very well if it is not you writing the huge tax cheques out.

    So I think becoming friends with people on different sides of the political fence is very different to being friends with those on the same side then finding overtime your values change.

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