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How To Make A Friendship Outlast Your Vote

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

35 thoughts on “How To Make A Friendship Outlast Your Vote”

  1. Agree totally… Facebook is a nightmare right now for me… I am fiercely Independant in the sense that I truly can’t pick a side completely… And it bothers me to no end when people attack the opposing side just because they THINK their side is right and the other is wrong. We are supposed to be “friends” no matter what party we agree with. Yuck, hate politics.

  2. This is so well thought out and written. I wish more people were as considerate as you are when expressing their political opinions, including politicians. There was an article going around FB yesterday about some politician who said people who vote for Obama are mentally retarded…I found that so offensive for so many reasons!

  3. oh, goodness. yes, the facebookiness of it all is starting to get to me, too. i’ve been *this close* to posting things that are negative (and i think, hysterical) about romney several times in the past few weeks, but i haven’t, because i just don’t feel like arguing with people. or alienating them. the flipside, as you pointed out, is that i end up feeling alienated by others who don’t give a crap and post SUPER RIDICULOUS THINGS ABOUT OBAMA ALL THE TIME EVEN MY GRANDPA STILL CALLS HIM A MUSLIM OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME. ahem. excuse me. 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. thanks for your post.

  4. Yes I agree and rarely post anything political on FB…I think its important that we understand why people think the way they do. I have had to debunk several things with my parents of late (nearly always they cross each others vote out)… because they are both so willing to believe what is said. They are not super internet savvy and it makes me crazy that all that negative campaign junk and something their friend found in their spam email becomes truth. MAKES ME NUTS IN THE HEAD so yes I have had to defend both sides…and talk both sides down. My Mom just recently had double knee replacement surgery at a fairly youngish age…. (in her 50′s) and two different doctors encouraged her to do this early because those two doctors fear that the decisions insurance companies and medicare will make in the future will be much more cost vs length of life left…. and not what a doctor or patience thinks is needed… so my Mom is TERRIFIED of obamacare, she is getting up to that age where she does worry that someone else is going to be deciding if her life is worth $$ and sadly I’ve had to tell her that both sides want to cut medicare and that it will probably be a fear no matter what…. but I am not in a place in my life where medicare is my biggest concern, yet we have to respect that there is a portion of our population that are AND ARE SCARED. This is just one example, obviously women (perhaps especially of my age/generation) are very vested in this vote because even though Romney is distancing himself somewhat from the republican platform on women’s issues…. its still a concern…. so the way I try to bridge the gap is that I try to remember what stage so and so is in life, and think about what their primary concerns are, try to do as much fact checking as I can and basically ignore as much political crap as I can. *sigh* I just wish each candidate could worry about saying what they will do, and not bad-mouthing their opponent. GAH! (PS I am also sick of Tweets from both camps that always say I am “fighting” for xyz, he is “fighting” for ABC… to me in this day in age, I think we need less FLIPPING fighting, less war, less partisanship and more working…. rhetoric is easy, WORKING for solutions to real problems is hard, so quit fighting and get to work).

    1. I really try to get in the heads of the other people too. I am STAUNCHLY for reproductive rights and I will argue the right to choose until the day I die. HOWEVER – I was raised in a Catholic community and I am surrounded by Pro-Life Catholic family. The issue truly breaks their heart, and to know I’m on the wrong side of it makes them so sad. And I get that. I do. So I allow them their, “Your Momma Was Pro Choice, Darlin’” posters on FB because I get the emotional weight of issues like that.

      1. I am with you on that even though I am Catholic and it does break my heart when I think about girls and women using abortion as birth control, though I do believe they represent the exception not the rule……. that said, if you believe women are educated enough to vote, if we are good enough to be political leaders if we are important enough to demand equal rights (and we are) then you cannot possibly argue (in my opinion) that we do not have the brain power to make decisions about our own bodies.

  5. I try to avoid posting political too but if it’s blatant lie, I WILL call you out on it… And if I get in a rage about the other guy, I might put up a post to let off some steam but then instantly regret it and pull it straight down… LIke I did last week. I really try but I’m a bit of a hot head when it comes to bullshit and people trying to play to the lowest common denominator.

    1. Oh, I’m a hot head. I ALWAYS type a response. I just have yet to click “send”. Now, I have unfriended before people who just blankly insult the gay community. One “friend” recently posted that he didn’t think heterosexuals would support the gay community so much if he knew what we were supporting. “One man stick his p3n!s into another man’s anu$! Who would support that?” I could NOT unfriend that guy fast enough.

      1. I always try very hard to respond civilly… such as “These statistics are not accurate. Here’s a link to the real numbers” instead of “Stop getting your news from Beck, Limbaugh and FAUX news! You’re smarter than that, don’t prove them right and the rest of us otherwise by believing that crap!”

      2. I have had to do the same thing…. I will not let homophobic rhetoric live on my facebook wall… first I tried to reason with said individual and quickly I learned that he thrived on that kind of conflict and my blood pressure did not need constant reminders of that hate. I have to believe that someday, someone he cares about will be gay, and perhaps he will feel ashamed of the way he treated other human beings in the name of Christianity.

  6. I claim to be the right side but some of my views fall to the right. I like your criteria list because to me it is balance. It says to me I’m willing to hear your opinion but let me tellyou why I feel the way I do. To me that is a breath of fresh air. I see too much of our both parties being hateful to mankind and it drive me crazy. I do agree we need to have those checks and balances. If not we go sideways and nothing gets done to improve our country. Well put.

    Also, congrats on the new baby to bbe.

  7. I do what I can to stay out of it. Yesterday I failed. A family member posted a comment such as “if you vote for Romney then you are ____” I honestly don’t remember what it was, but it was negative to him. It was the comments that followed by someone in which they referred to the president as “Osama” I responded with, “Osama was a terrorist that was killed, not the POTUS” Something like that. Oh lord the responses this person came up with afterwards??? I was a lesbian, non working, weed smoking, take advantage of the government and a bunch of other racist, discriminating things. All for saying they they had put the wrong name up. I have now thought of better responses, but basically it was having a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Like, honey if I was a lesbian, I wouldn’t be single, I would be in a happy loving relationship (sometimes I really wished I liked girls.) Weed smoking? not my thing, but put it in a baked good and I am a happy camper. I could have gone on and on……but like a I said, a battle of wits with and unarmed person. So I kept telling them, Have a GREAT day!! :) at the end of each post. That seemed to tick them off even more. I don’t get angry people like that. So I am going to go back to my original stance of not posting my thoughts on a social forum. I know a few people who are too fanatical for both sides and have distanced myself from them. I am will be so happy when the election is over……

    1. Stacey – I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I mentioned in another comment above my own horrible similar experience that was so bad I just unfriended the person. I think there is a line of close-minded beliefs that can not be reasoned with on any level. And so, instead of feeling my blood boil with every post from that person, I just unfriended him because I couldn’t handle it.

      :sigh:

  8. There are things I like and hate about BOTH candidates. There’s no one perfect for me to vote for, but that’s ok. You know, one thing I had to teach my students was that Presidents and candidates are puppets. They have a team of people telling them what to say, what to wear, who to shake hands with. It would BLOW THEIR MINDS to hear that they have speech writers and stylists who help them to portray a certain image. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s just a reminder that it’s not ONE GUY running things up there. It’s a whole team putting him together and he’s only one part of our government. I appreciate you not posting on facebook because I don’t want ANYONE posting political/religious/VERY personal information on facebook. It’s social media and I use it for fun, not for frustrating myself.

    1. I think I feel like such a minority on FB – so many of my friends/family post religious/political things all the time that I really don’t mind it as long as the execution is respectful. I actually have one friend who I reference CONSTANTLY. She is the exact opposite of me in ever political/religious way. BUT – she posts the most insightful political/religious commentary articles in the world. I love them. I thank her often for being the example of how I can learn from the other side. I really wish I could call her out more on FB as being awesome, but she gets a lot of flack from some of the people in her community (who seem to want to encourage more hateful rhetoric) so I don’t want to make her life any harder. ;) She really is the perfect example of someone who can post things I totally don’t agree with, but never upsets me because it’s well thought out and respectful and I never feel attacked or insulted.

      If only everyone else who chooses to broach those sensitive topics could be more like her ;)

  9. Well put, very well put.

    As a fairly conservative voter I wish more people had a sensitivity bone when it comes to political issues. Way too much blood has been spilled in an effort to allow us to have our opinions, do we really need to be UGLY about it?

  10. There are extreme people on both sides and I try to ignore them. I am glad you are not categorizing me in a group of people. I try not to do that too, especially with the ones I know face to face, that I see, watch, and observe on a day to day basis. Politics is politics but friendships are a different animal all together. Friendships will always come first for me and the most important thing is that I may LEARN something from the other side. We are closer to one another than we think if we just take the time to learn and get to know each other and find the similarities instead of focusing on the differences.

    1. One of my FB friends that I swear I learn the most from is on the most opposite side of the spectrum from me as possible. She’s staunchly conservative and fundamentalist Christian. But she posts these links to these amazing articles that I read word-for-word because they are so insightful and open minded and just beautiful. I think that I learn a lot from her, even though she’s on the other side of the aisle from me. I hate the idea that some people would be closed to that kind of influence because they’re really missing out!

  11. I try my best not to post my political views on Facebook. I might post something every once in a while but it is not mean, or I hope it is not mean anyway. But for the most part, I try to keep it off Facebook.

  12. Thanks for this post. I have two niece in-laws who attack me all the time. It’s fine that they vote for who they think it the best candidate. That’s what we’re supposed to do, but they FB entries and not to me are filled with hate and loathing. All because of political beliefs. The funny thing is, I never talk about politics at all. But this election cycle seems to be bringing the worst out in people on both sides. So thank you for this post, Kim! It made my day!

  13. Thank you for saying this so well! This is EXACTLY how I feel this election. Four years ago, I wasn’t as respectful and it hurt a few people. This time, I’m the one who is trying to be very careful in how I word things and in what I post, partly because I also have many more Republican friends this time.

    I’ve been unfollowing a lot of people these last few weeks, mostly due to hateful comments about “all Obama voters” or “all Liberals.” I know that’s just how election season is (and has been, even since the 1800s), but it really does hurt to see that kind of stuff, even if (or maybe especially because) I wasn’t the specific target.

    So far, I’ve posted a total of three political things on Facebook and only one was my opinion (and it was something positive about my candidate). Although I still reguarly comment on other people’s political postings, I generally try to limit it to the sharing of information from various fact-check organizations.

  14. Awesome post.
    I feel like you do about the whole political battle going on. Every now and again I will get sucked in to a conversation or make some stupid statement. I usually will not debate anything. I love all my friends and I have to respect their right to chose and hopefully they respect mine.
    I do agree with Maribeth’s reply. Things sure feel so much uglier this year.
    Cannot wait for all of this to be over. :)

  15. YES! FB is especially hard right now. This year I have tried to not get into ANY debates about politics, no matter how goaded I get (which is a lot goaded, because I am the only liberal in my family and I have a lot of conservative friends who like to “tease”). The most I’ve posted myself is something like “Yay Obama!” when he publicly supported gay marriage, or something like that. More personal and only positive. I’ve often felt lumped into that “Anti Christian, America hating, elitist” group and it hurts my feelings, so I try to be careful not to do the same to others, even if I’m feeling petty and kind of want to teach them a lesson.

  16. This was my Facebook status two weeks ago:

    Here’s the funny thing about an election year, I get to see all my friends beliefs and I still love them after all of their political posts on Facebook. Or maybe that just makes me funny? All I have to say is whatever your beliefs are I still think you’re entitled to them, whether I agree or not.

  17. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago–it’s such a hard thing to deal with right now. I don’t mind opposing views, but it’s the ugliness, the name calling that breaks my heart. Something about social media (FB in particular) makes people write things they would NEVER say to your face. And it makes me sad.

    That said, I totally agree with every one of your rules.

    For me, I just want to make it out of this season without my family calling me (by proxy when they post about liberals) unAmerican or too dumb to vote again.

  18. Completely agree with you. It boils down to the old adage of catching more flies with honey than vinegar. If you attack, you’re never going to convince someone to think as you do. In all honesty, the more negative the supporters of a candidate are, the more I find myself disliking the candidate.

    In order to survive Facebook right now, I find myself skipping over a LOT of posts. I trust that the people I’m friends with are not complete jerks and have some redeeming quality that caused us to be friends in the first place, so I try to ignore political posts as much as possible.

  19. I had to link to this on FB. I’ve seen stuff that people post and I have to tell myself to STEP BACK FROM THE COMPUTER. NOW. It’s nice to be able to inject some common sense into all the nastiness. I’m thankful that I’m getting a pass on TV exposure this election cycle…well done, Kim.

  20. I so get this…. the endless Chick-Fil-A postings a while back just straight up depressed me. I wanted to reach through the computer and damn throttle my “friends” who were posting pictures of themselves smiling holding a large waffle fries in their hand. It just felt so ugly and hateful to me…. I remember telling my girlfriend “this shit has really got me worked up!!”….which is really not like me. I love this post Kim, thank you.

  21. I felt the same way about Chick-Fil-A and seeing it play out on Facebook. People boasting about eating it 3x a day, bragging about waiting 45 minutes for their damn chicken. It felt very mean-spirited and hateful to me. My heart ached for my gay friends and family.

    Mostly I’m a silent observer on Facebook, but the ignorant posts do get to me. I just suffer in silence, unless I can’t bear to keep quiet.

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