Losing Friends Over Politics


In last year's election cycle, it seemed that the discourse was more raw, rough, and angry than ever before. It seemed that posturing was taking place among the candidates, of course, but also mainstream media was clearly favoring one candidate/party over another. How does this impact our relationships? Does it impact them? And, since the election, has it changed? I think not.

One of my favorite movies of all-time is a 1970's French film by the renowned director, Claude LeLouche. This movie, "And Now My Love," has a conceit in its concept that only the French would do and, in this case, pull off magnificently. It is the story of love at first sight. However, the destined lovers do not meet until the very end of the movie as they are figuratively passing ships in the night. We do learn that they share one thing in common - they both take three lumps of sugar in their coffee.

That is ultimately the McGuffin of the movie to use a movie term that I believe began with Alfred Hitchcock films and doesn't really apply. Let's just say it's the device that threads throughout this adorable, lyrical, and amazing cinematic achievement. For me, it's also been a lifelong lesson in relationships that has now encompassed political views - for me.

Should taking three lumps of sugar be the basis of a relationship? Maybe not, but it was an allegory for this particular couple's destiny. When I got divorced and began dating again, I realized that my three lumps of sugar were not what I had always thought they would be. Religion turned out not to be that important a difference since my (second) wife turned out to be Christian, while I'm Jewish. But, the fact that we both shared the basic tenets that both our religions share, turned out to be more relevant than if I'd met a secular Jew. She believed in the Old Testament, just as I do. She believes in the values it espouses and our only difference, essentially, was the role Jesus played in the world.

Similarly, we shared the same politics and I realized that I could not be with a woman who thought the opposite of me. The consequences of that thinking, in my opinion, would be catastrophic for our country, our world, and more importantly to me, for the future for my boys. Of course I don't mean on every single policy, but an overall belief system. So, how could I share a life with someone who believed otherwise?

As my view of the world and my values solidified, I began looking at my friend's values and views. I found that with many on "the other side," we could just not have a respectful dialogue. In some cases, we agreed to just take politics off the table and continue to stay friends and talk about the more micro issues of our lives: work, family, fun.

In other cases, the extreme views and values of some friends just made it hard to continue the friendship. I found that these friendships more or less drifted apart in a natural way without any rancor though for me, with the realization that our time had passed (as friends).

Of course, we should not choose our friends solely by their ideological views. Or should we? I would suggest that friends we had from years past should be given more slack in this regard and just as with the example described earlier, maybe some topics are just not discussed.

However, with new friends and especially with a life-long partner, I believe sharing similar values and (political) views just is easier. Of course it does none of us any good to just have friends and/or family that simply agree with everything we say or do. But, on the other hand, some views/values are just beyond casual discussion and inevitably lead to passions getting inflamed.

I'm a pretty out-there guy with out-there views of life and the world. I could just keep my mouth shut and not let some of these macro issues of the world intrude in my personal life. But, I'm just not that sort. Passivity about anything isn't in my blood.

I have no doubt that this column will stir much debate and disagreement with this point-of-view. You are welcome to express those contrary views to me via email or in the comments section of my website. When I wrote a pretty over-the-top rant about the Occupy Wall Street movement, the response was significant.

Happily, the vast majority of those that disagreed with me did so with thought, respect, and intelligence. They were still wrong, of course, but at least the discourse was civil. Those that simply called me names usually did so anonymously and I did not delete a single one of those hateful comments because they really did speak for themselves and require no response.

In my personal life, I'd rather not have the rancor that we are seeing in the public sphere. I am glad that my friendships have evolved so that the majority of those close to me do think along similar lines, though with varying degrees of harmony.

Frankly, most of the friendships that have drifted have done so not due to politically different views, but just the natural evolution of our changing lives and/or a silly, small incident that grew to more than it ever deserved and unfortunately, derailed the friendship. I'm not proud of those friendships that ended over trivia, but I'm far from a perfect human being.

What do you think about this issue? Have your friendships endured significantly different political positions. Have your views of the world changed while your friend's views haven't? Please share your thoughts.


Bruce Sallan's second book is an e-book only - "The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad's Point-of-View" - and costs a whopping $2.79 for PDF and $2.99 on Amazon/Kindle. It's a travelogue, an emotional father-son story, and it contains 100 photos and 7 original videos. Bruce is also the author of "A Dad's Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation" and radio host of "The Bruce Sallan Show - A Dad's Point-of-View." He gave up a long-term showbiz career to become a stay-at-home-dad. He has dedicated his new career to becoming THE Dad advocate. He carries out his mission with not only his book and radio show, but also his column "A Dad's Point-of-View", syndicated in over 100 newspapers and websites worldwide, his "I'm NOT That Dad" vlogs, the "Because I Said So" comic strip, and his dedication to his community on Facebook and Twitter. Join Bruce and his extensive community each Thursday for #DadChat, from 6-7pm PST, the Tweet Chat that Bruce hosts.


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