I’ve not written much politically here this election season for one reason and one reason only:
I have have a wider circle of friends than I did four years ago, many of them vote Republican and I am desperate to make sure our relationships outlast this election.
Of course we all know I’m Lefty McLiberal. We all know who I’m voting for. But I’m avoiding talking about it online. Why? Because Facebook is a NIGHTMARE for me right now. I see that a lot of people either A) Don’t realize their negative postings might be hurting/alienating their friends and family or B) They just don’t care.
But I care. I see the negative postings that upset me and make me wonder if I should debate them if it’s a fact that I know is wrong (I don’t), or if I should defend myself it’s something that attacks me (I don’t), or if I should remind them that they have friends/family that are in their attack zone (I don’t).
Either way it puts me into a GIANT STRESS BALL and there is no way I want to do that to the people I love and respect. Other people are stronger than I am, don’t take this stuff as personally, so they don’t mind putting it out there because they don’t actually feel the stress it can cause. I am NOT one of those people. I feel the stress. So I don’t want to do that. Also – I love my friends and family on the other side of the aisle. I’m not naive enough to think that someone who votes differently can’t contribute something positive to my life. I don’t want to do anything to push those people out of my life because – no matter how they vote – they make my life BETTER.
These are the simple rules I keep in place to make sure I don’t alienate anyone in my family or any of my friends. Most of these relate to postings on things like Facebook, but they also relate to my mentality in general. By keeping these simple rules in mind, I’m able to respect my conservative friends/family and continue to love them even if we vote differently.
How I Maintain Relationships With People Who Vote Differently Than I Do
- I don’t classify all opposing voters in big negative groups.
This is the one that has offended me the most in the past, from both sides of the aisle. I see people who say that anyone who votes for Obama is Un-American. Or that we just vote for Obama because we’re young and the celebrities love him. Or maybe we’re all socialists. I see people who assume everyone voting for Romney must be elitist, racist, and homophobic. I see those groupings all over Facebook and it devastates me. Therefore, I never do that. You’ll never see me say that EVERYONE who votes for Romney ____________. Everyone votes for their own reasons and I trust my friends and family and their reasons. Even if I don’t agree with them. I’m not going to negatively group them as a whole.
- I don’t ever place blame on any President entirely for bad things happening in our country while he’s in office.
Example: Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Bush.
I am Lefty McLiberal. There are few people in the political spectrum further away from George W. Bush than me. However, I never succumbed to the, “Don’t blame me, I voted for Bush” train of thought. Our Democracy runs well because there are THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT so that no one branch gets all the power. If legislation is passed that I don’t agree with? I don’t blame the president because it takes more than him to get it done. Yes, they are responsible, but blaming the economic collapse of the housing marking on George W. Bush is as ridiculous as blaming our current economic woes on Barack Obama. I’m very proud that our democracy is much too complex to allow one person to carry the blame for all things. I am not saying they are not at fault at all. I’m just saying there are tons of factors at play in our democracy so no one person can shoulder the burden of all of our failures.
- I can admit when the guy I vote for makes mistakes.
My guy did this in 1996. And I will blast his part in that legislation (I will not blame him entirely for it though: See rule #2) until the day I die because that legislation is what is standing in the way – on a federal level – between my gay friends/family ever having equal rights in this country. Whomever you support – you must be able to admit THEY ARE FLAWED. If you can not find any point of criticism with your guy – then your blinders are on too tight. I was not happy that Obama didn’t stand up politically for same-sex marriage until recently. And I said that often up until the day he finally proclaimed his support. If you can’t openly discuss one thing you disagree with Obama or Romney about, then you are A) Wearing blinders and B) Not informed. Do some research. Be open to seeing your guy’s flaws. It helps you understand the other side better.
- I can still say good things about a President I didn’t vote for.
I was very unhappy with the Bush presidency. But let me tell you things he did I find favor with. GOOD THINGS. His presidency was actually more supportive of the LGBT community than I would have predicted. Especially in that time, before support of the LGBT community was becoming mainstream. Did you know he appointed an openly gay man as the U.S. ambassador to Romania? And he did NOT overturn President Clinton’s executive order banning federal employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which many LGBT supporters feared he’d do. He also refused to turn away gay and lesbian families from the White House Easter Egg hunt. Do you know how much I appreciated all of those things? I also am a big fan of Romneycare in terms of a solution to our healthcare crisis. When Mitt Romney was looking to be the Republican nominee, I held on to that good thing he did. Please don’t be blind to the good things the other guys does. If you can’t tell me one good thing Bush did, or one good thing Obama did, Or one good thing Romney did, then you are not going to be able to bridge the gap between you and your friends/family on the other side.
- I don’t think my guy losing means the end of the world.
Example: If Romney gets elected, I’m moving to Canada.
This is also similar to #2. We have THREE BRANCHES of government here. This is so that the power is balanced out. Yes…for either side the worse-case scenario would be the Opposing sides President, the Opposing side majority in Congress, and the Opposing side leaning Supreme Court. Until that happens in a severe extreme – then you really can’t play Chicken Little “THEY SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING!” The Chicken Little behavior is probably that which upsets me most. If you want to play Chicken Little and act like Romney/Obama winning is the end of the world, then just be aware: YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE FRIENDS. YOU ARE GOING TO HURT FAMILY. You acting like their guy is SO BAD that you couldn’t be in this country with him as president? Is about as insulting as you can get.
And I’ll be honest…from a Liberal stance? Right now it’s all about the Supreme Court. A lot of big cases may be drifting to the highest court in the next four years, I’m thinking more about the judicial branch some days than the executive branch.
- If I’m going to post anything politically, it’s supportive statements about Obama and not attacks on Romney.
If I just can’t control myself and HAVE to post something political on Facebook, I prefer to post supportive posts about MY guy instead of attacking posts about YOUR guy. Even if your guy has done something RIDICULOUS, I’m not going to risk upsetting my friends/family by drawing attention to that. If I post something Pro-Obama and someone gets mad? Then they’re probably overly sensitive and just angry at everyone on the other side. But if I post something bashing Romney and they get mad? I’m the jerk in the situation. I don’t mind seeing pro-Romney stuff on my FB feeds at all! It’s the Anti-Obama stuff that makes me crazy. Why would I want to do that to my friends/family?
What about you? Do you have mixed relationships too? Do you have any tips on preserving those? Do you get disheartened if friends or family are maybe not as respectful as you’d like them to be? Do you unfollow people? I’ve unfollowed before, but more about LGBT issues (I’ve proclaimed before that those are my dealbreaker issues.) than with the election itself. And that’s mainly because posts against the LGBT community honestly make me cry, and I don’t need anything else in my world doing that.
What tips do you have for maintaining relationships in the election year?
Edited To Add
GREAT comment from supertiff with a quote that is so perfect I had to share it on the post itself:
i feel like i’m just sitting here swallowing down other people’s bitterness, not wanting to add any to the pot, but not being able to do anything to sweeten it up, either.