Civilized Politics

by admin on October 23, 2012

The U.S. Presidential election is coming up and my husband “Joe” and I belong to different parties, which has not caused any conflict between us. We have good friends, a married couple named “Sam and Susan”. I was always aware that Susan is a pretty outspoken member of the opposite party than me, but it’s never come up in conversation because I try to avoid talking about politics.

Today we went out to lunch with Sam and Susan and our children. After much pleasant conversation, Susan asked, “Are you ready for the presidential election?” Joe volunteered that he and I will cancel out each other’s votes. After questioning who was voting for who, Susan seemed shocked to find out that I am a member of the opposite party. “My esteem for you has just gone down,” she said, and not in a very friendly or joking way.

She then proceeded to hammer away at my candidate and everything he stands for. I stayed silent because I am not good at debating, and there was really nothing I could say that wouldn’t turn it into an argument. Of course, most of the things she was criticizing as terrible policies/programs are things that I believe in, so it was very hard to sit there and listen to them being trashed. Then Sam chimed in and the whole double diatribe lasted a good ten minutes. All I eventually said was, “Maybe Joe will convert me one of these days,” hoping to change the subject.

Later on, Joe agreed that Susan and Sam had been over the top, but other than the “esteem” comment, he felt that they weren’t criticizing me, just my party and my candidate. I feel that it is rude to subject someone to a diatribe against their political views when the other person hasn’t expressed any desire to debate or even discuss it. Who’s right? 1012-12

OK, you knew ahead of time that Sue was an outspoken person of a political party different than yours.  I was surprised to read that you actually answered her question of who belonged to which political party instead of deftly beandipping so as to avoid the oncoming trainwreck of a discussion.    Regardless of the topic, you cannot open the door to someone knocking and expect that the other person will “get it” that you consider it rude to discuss that topic.

And I agree with your husband that expressing an opinion about a party, its platform, it strategies and policies, etc is not a personal attack.  Unless you happen to be the politician being scrutinized but then one would have to expect that as part of the job description of a public figure.

And this is a good post to announce the creation of an entirely new Ehell sister site,  www.civilizedpolitics.com.  Brand, spanking new…it’s a forum to discuss politics in a sane, civil, respectable manner for maximum edification.  CivilizedPolitics.com

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Noon October 23, 2012 at 4:58 am

If the point was to browbeat you into changing your views, I would say that Susan and Sam were being very personal and certainly going on the attack. Regardless, monopolizing the conversation for an extended period was boorish in and of itself, as was continuing to argue without you expressing a reciprocal interest in having a debate or contributing in any way.

I agree with Admin that you could have simply declined to identify yourself, which would have avoided it all at the expense of making you look rather standoffish, but I would not say that a ten-minute diatribe was a predictable outcome here; again, you never signaled that you were interested in arguing. Had you responded with arguments of your own, that would have been the cue to start engaging in debate in earnest; Sam and Susan should have noted your silence and ceased the attack once it was clear that you had no intent to defend yourself.

Personally…after maybe a minute of that, I would have waited for Sam or Susan to stop for a breath and then politely cut in, saying “I did /not/ put my views up for debate”. At this point, active refusal is appropriate, because anything more aggressive than the “esteem” comment constitutes an attack, and because arguing one’s position in the manner described demonstrates a pronounced lack of respect.

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Lo October 23, 2012 at 6:12 am

One of the reasons I dread the election year in this country.

My husband and I are not particularly close on the political spectrum and he was raised by parents who were completely opposed politically and so they did not talk about politics ever in their marriage. So that’s how he thinks politics should be handled in ours. I disagree and that makes for conflict of it’s own so that’s fun. On top of that there’s everyone else freely offloading their political opinions.

Your friend should have realized that the minute you were not engaging her back in, uh, “spirited debate”, she should have closed her mouth. I’ve gotten the hint before when I put my foot in my mouth by casually badmouthing some politician only to find out the person I’m talking to supports them. That’s a cue to shut up and be peaceful. It’s really suprising how many people will take a mention of political support on your part as an invitation to debate. The last few elections I’ve been in the habit of whenever people are mentioning a particular candidate looking for support to say, “Well I that’s fine but didn’t/won’t vote for so-and-so” and 99% of the time it’s true because I support a 3rd party.
Unfortunately plenty of people take as an assumption that I support his major party opponent. When I bother to explain that I’m voting for an 3rd party they tell me I’m throwing my vote away.

It’s a bad situation no matter who you support– you should be free to talk about it politely but you can’t do that when other people are hot to debate and when you do want to debate among friends it turns ugly.

Hopefully this woman will calm down after election season.

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Zilla October 23, 2012 at 6:20 am

I think that the OP’s husband should have nipped it in the bud and say let’s change the subject. Susan was rude to tell the OP that her esteem of her went down. Lastly, Susan seem to take it personally that the OP was not of her party when all she had to say was, “Oh I didn’t know you were of opposing party. May I ask why you support it?” And let the OP agree to debate or decline.

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DowagerDutchess October 23, 2012 at 7:06 am

There are lots of things you could have said without arguing- “Oh Susan, let’s talk about something more fun than politics,” “Oops- broke my own vow not to talk politics at meal time,” “Excuse me, I must run to the ladies,” “I’m not much of a debater, but I think it’s pretty clear we disagree, let’s just move on,” “I’m sorry to hear that my politics makes you think less of me. I personally value tolerance and a diversity of opinions. Perhaps we should just change the subject.”

I just find it rude in a way to let her go on and on without saying anything, and then complain later.

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Michelle October 23, 2012 at 7:17 am

While I agree with admin that technically this is not a personal attack, I know it can sure come off sounding like one. I have an aunt who is passionately for one policitical party and even more passionately against the other, and I refuse to get into political discussions with her because we just don’t agree. She does not know how I vote. She will never know, in the interest of preserving our aunt/niece relationship. But when she gets going on one of her “anti-other-party” diatribes – look out! Hyperventilating, red-in-the face, shaking with rage anger – that all comes across as very personal, as to her – it is!

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Erin October 23, 2012 at 7:43 am

I have to disagree with the admin here – it became a personal attack when Susan said her esteem for the OP went down, and refused to change the subject when OP clearly wasn’t interested in arguing. Susan was using the OP as a stand-in for the politician she didn’t like, and the “Oh, it’s not personal, it’s just politics” argument is a cop-out for her blatant rudeness.

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Brian October 23, 2012 at 7:44 am

We have lots of friends of the opposite party. And none of us would be so boorish as to start a political debate. When you insult someone’s candidate, they often feel like that have to jump in and defend their choice, and it makes for an uncomfortable exchange. Stick to less sticky topics, like what’s the one true religion.

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Audra October 23, 2012 at 7:55 am

OP- I don’t understand why you let this woman continue on for so long. Any of @DowagerDutchess’s suggestions would have worked. After letting Susan know it was not up for debate and she continued, I would have said excuse me and left the table.

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Amp2140 October 23, 2012 at 7:59 am

I’d like to point out that the admin did make an assumption that the OP said what party she belonged to. Joe volunteered that he and OP were supporting different parties, and it is entirely possible that Susan either already knew Joe’s party, or Joe volunteered it and ‘outed’ the OP. it is kind of rude to assume she ‘deserved’ it because you assume she opened herself up for debate.

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josie October 23, 2012 at 8:09 am

When I get asked about my party affliation, I tell the person “I vote for the person, not the party”….drives them nuts. Really, do your research and vote based on who would be the best. I dread political season…. I think OP should of just changed the subject.

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Michelle October 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

@Brian – I love it! LOL!

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June First October 23, 2012 at 8:29 am

I’d sit there, acting vaguely amused. “Well, Susan, we certainly know where you stand. Let’s just agree to disagree. It works for us. Right, Husband?”
And then talk about the bean dip.

That seems like taking the high road to me. Why on earth would someone tell a friend they have less esteem for them because of their political candidate?? Your verbal filter is supposed to catch your thoughts before they leave your mouth!

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Mrs. Lovett October 23, 2012 at 8:45 am

I don’t completely agree that Susan’s diatribe was not a personal attack. True, beyond the comment about her esteem for OP going down, we assume that none of what she said directly referenced OP. However, political beliefs can be a real reflection of a person’s priorities, beliefs, thoughts, and personality. If Susan were only raising concerns or criticizing aspects or effects of OP’s candidate’s programs and platform issues, I would agree that that’s not a personal attack. However, to tear down a candidate and trash programs and political agendas that someone supports to their face is quite personal as you are trying to invalidate what that person believes in.

There are civil ways to criticize a candidate or a political party, but even these should be reserved for an appropriate time and place, and should not be continued for longer than they are welcome. It sounds to me like Susan way overstepped those boundaries and chose not to be civil. I’m very sorry that OP was subjected to that, as it can be upsetting to have to listen to, as I well know because many of my extended family members are fiercely loyal to the political party I oppose. However, I have found my polite spin and have learned to say, after one has launched into a political tirade or told a political joke, “And that’s all the politics we’re going to discuss for the evening, correct? Has anyone tried the bean dip? It’s delicious!” Generally, this comment is well-received and everyone respects my request to avoid politics, at least in front of me.

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jena rogers October 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

Asking about one’s political choices is an invasion of privacy. In these politically charged times, it helps to have a ready answer for the inevitable boor… My default answer, when asked, or when someone starts to bring up anything like this is, “I never discuss politics.” Then I continue to ignore the dialogue ’til they get the message and change the subject… The question is rhetorical anyway; folks don’t want to know your choices as much as they want to push their own agendas.

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Cat October 23, 2012 at 9:10 am

If someone is rabid about a political candidate, I try to avoid all mention of the topic. Once you are directly asked a question, you can say, “I never discuss religion or politics.”, go with an off- the- wall answer, “I’m voting for J. R. from Dallas; he’d just bribe everybody to get along.”or go for the line from “Young Victoria”, “We have exhausted the subject.” and refuse to discuss it.
The line about lowering her esteem for you was meant to insult you. There’s the, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Your political opinions do not affect my regard for you.” There’s “Well, I’m glad I didn’t tellyou my views on religion. You’d never speak to me again.” And then there’s the incredulous look and the exclaimation, “Really!?”
A woman with whom I worked constantly tried to correct me. I finally got tired of bean-dipping and said, “In my next life, I’m going to be just like you. In this life, however, you’re going to have to accept me as I am.”

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Amber October 23, 2012 at 9:11 am

Oooh, intrigued by the new forum. I’ve only been on one other forum that succeeds at sane political discussion. I certainly hope that this one is just as focused on keeping things civil!

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S October 23, 2012 at 9:27 am

I have been subject to this sort of behavior more times than I can count. I am a professional political operative, and so when the inevitable “So what do you do for a living” question comes up, I generally try to remain as evasive as possible, because my job title necessarily invites criticism and debate from those who disagree. When I am outed, usually by someone else at the gathering who does know what I do, my standard response to the debate is ” Oh, geez, I deal with this all week, it’s a party, I dont’ want to talk about work! How’s the bean dip?”.

When someone won’t stop their tirade, I have been known to simply walk away from them. Rude on my part, probably, but any more rude than the person who simply will not stop berating me over my politics/profession?

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Stacey Frith-Smith October 23, 2012 at 9:33 am

Relationships and the forms that preserve them trump politics and religion. Lectures, insults, diatribes and similar tactics aren’t going to change anyone’s views and are a form of bullying. It is abuse. Anyone wanting to impact a community for the better must first live in a community- that is to say that they must foster mutuality of respect and communication. If the acid test of whether you can be around other people is whether or not they agree with your views, you have a narrow community and you will never gift the world with your wisdom nor receive like gifts in return.

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Spuck October 23, 2012 at 9:40 am

I think it is reasonable to mention a subject without wanting to go into a debate about it. Naturally there are going to people out there who will fight no matter what. I was in a group where if you said you liked the color blue this girl would go into an argument about the superiority of green. You can’t bean dip with someone who is going to argue for an arguments sake. All the OP said was that she was part of another party, and her husband outed her so she doesn’t deserve a 10 minute discussion about how bad her party’s policies are. What she should have done is spoken up said, “It is obvious that we have different view points. Lets agree to disagree and move onto another subject.” If the arguer continues, you leave. All they want is an audience. It is up to the person who is being talked at not to be the arguer’s soundboard.

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Jay October 23, 2012 at 9:49 am

I think it WAS a personal attack. The fact that it started with a very clear personal statement reinforces that. My response (in theory, anyway) is to wonder whether Sue really thought I wanted to hear any of that stuff. Anyone who understands even the most basic principles of conversation would know that someone (a friend!) doesn’t want to hear 10 minutes of shouting about why the things she believes in are wrong.

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Andie October 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

That’s why I never tell anyone who I’m voting for, even if I get the sense that we support the same candidate. You could say you’re undecided or say coyly: “that’s for me to know!” Or make jokes: “I always withhold judgement until after the swimsuit competition.”

You don’t have to tell everyone everything.

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TylerBelle October 23, 2012 at 9:56 am

I’ve had someone do somewhat similar to me, but on religious beliefs (shocker). Although the aggressor may say that they aren’t attacking you, but your views (as said to me), it can feel quite personal when it goes beyond simple disagreeing and into apparently trying to stomp your views and opinions into the ground. It’s rather funny when people act in this manner, making an intense and aggressive stance, especially when it’s one-sided, for it has a good chance of damaging their case more than helping it.

As mentioned, I’m curious too of what of the OP’s husband? As Sam and Sally were going off on their rant towards her, what was her husband doing? I wished they both could have employed something as the topic changers listed by previous posters. But they shouldn’t have needed to, because this couple should have zipped it as soon as it registered they were the only ones in their tacky debate.

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Susan October 23, 2012 at 9:56 am

Something that has been making the rounds on FB: By John Wesley

I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.

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Politrix October 23, 2012 at 9:56 am

Remember the post about the crazy vegetarian houseguest, who threw out all her host’s meat and animal by-products? “Funk Monkey” left a great quote, and I’ve committed it to memory and plan to use it if anyone tries to engage me in a political debate I clearly don’t want to be a part of. ;)

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L.J. October 23, 2012 at 9:59 am

Sue wouldn’t have been stopped by bean dipping. It sounds like she wanted a captive audience for her rant and she was determined to get it. If the LW had tried to avoid the question, Sue would have grilled her on it and eventually just assumed she was on the opposing side and gone into the same diatribe. LW says she’s not good at debating, which is probably what made her such an attractive target for Sue.

LW, Sue is not a pleasant person. She used you as a political punching bag. It was NOT your fault in any way. She would have said exactly the same things to any other convenient target. Life is too short to spend time with someone who would treat you that way. The two husbands can hang out together while you do something you enjoy instead. Pamper yourself with a day at the spa while Sue is sitting home alone.

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Chocobo October 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

I cannot agree that the act of simply stating what political party one belongs to opens one up to a lengthy rant and personal criticism. The rude people here are absolutely Sam and Susan. I think the OP handled the situation beautifully, I love her closer that ended the ranting of the bores, how elegant. Regardless of what party I belonged to, I would stop associating with these people who are clearly incapable of carrying on a civil conversation and by their own admission do not respect who think differently from them. No thank you.

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Chocobo October 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

@jean rogers “The question is rhetorical anyway; folks don’t want to know your choices as much as they want to push their own agendas.”

And how!

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MichelleP October 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

I respectfully disagree with admin that this was the OP’s fault, and yes the “friend” did attack her personally. It’s easier said then done to handle a situation like this when you’re not in it.

Stay away from “friends” like these, OP. Regardless of the politics involved.

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The Elf October 23, 2012 at 10:20 am

Ugh, I feel for the OP. Before I learned some techniques to deflect and bean-dip, I got caught in this trap too. After all, I feel strongly about my political beliefs too. But after being accused of “not being a real woman”, I realized that the there is a reason why religion and politics are not topics for polite discussion!

I love being able to discuss or debate either one with people who treat opposing points of view respectfully and can maintain civil discourse. We keep to subjects and don’t make it personal. Those people are sadly rare, and becoming more so as politics has become far more polarized. But when you find that rare person, it is very enjoyable to discuss these topics and I have often times come away with a new perspective. Even if it hasn’t changed my view, it might bring nuance to it or at least sympathy for “the other side”.

My typical response to such political questioning these days is both truthful and evasive: “I’m disgusted with the entire system and both parties. It’s enough that I can’t rightly get behind any one candidate.” If asked, and I have been recently, “Are you ready for the presidential election?” I respond “Yes! I can’t wait for it to be over!” This is also something people can get behind – very few people are gung-ho about anyone these days, and most everyone is sick of seeing attack ads. There’s a reason Congress’ approval rating is the pits. If they don’t jump on that conversational hook and continue to push their own politics, I bean dip like crazy.

After Susan and Sam got no argument from you, they should have picked up on the fact that it was not a topic you feel comfortable questioning. Although it may not have been personal (though the esteem comment makes me think it was), it was still a brow-beating that a polite person should not have engaged in.

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The Elf October 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

Lo: “When I bother to explain that I’m voting for an 3rd party they tell me I’m throwing my vote away.”

Oh man, this makes me crazy. I’ve voted third party before. Not often, but I have. People who say this have no understanding of how Presidential elections actually work and how it is so strongly dependent on the politics of your particular state.

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Lacey October 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

Completely agree with the Admin. The “my esteem for you has just gone down” was really rude, and if I were you, mine for her would have gone down upon hearing that. However, as was said, an attack on a politician’s policies is not an attack on the person voting for that politician, unless the friend had said “all people who vote for X are idiots” or something to that effect. I love having debates about politics (though I realize there is a time and a place), and it really bothers me that some people can’t have a debate without taking someone’s opposing opinion as a personal affront. Not everything has to get personal.

I once had this conversation with a close family member (we’re actually pretty close on the political spectrum, but vote for different Canadian parties) who got upset that I now criticized a party I used to vote for. She pointed out that she didn’t attack my party, and I responded by saying she was absolutely welcome to, because she had the right to say anything she wanted about a political party or politician. I think that made her realize I didn’t mean any criticism of the party as a criticism of her, and we now have great discussions where nobody gets offended. Again, unless the other person criticizes the people voting for the politician instead of the politician himself, it’s not personal and taking it personally only causes problems.

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Annie October 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

Talking about politics is a close second to talking about bowel movements, in my opinion. It should only be discussed if you are really, really sure the other party wants to hear about it.

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Kimstu October 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

Good for you, Admin. I think any attempt to foster polite and respectful political discourse is a very worthy effort, and I’m off to register at the new forum now.

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Rachel October 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

I don’t understand why people are saying that this was a personal attack. If I criticize George Washington and his policies, what on this green earth does that have to do with you? What does your “personality” have to do with the candidate’s voting record? Or your “personal beliefs” have to do with the candidate’s stance on global warming? I can understand a somewhat more personal touch on the issue of abortion rights, but even still, how are we supposed to grow and learn from each other if we get hurt feelings every time someone disagrees with us? Just because we agree with a candidate does not mean we have to identify with them to the point that we take an attack on them as a personal attack on us. This is how people end up killing each other over politics.

I agree that the “esteem” comment was a personal attack, but I don’t think that the whole “diatribe” was rude. And we have only the OP’s say that it was a “diatribe”. Considering that she wrote that she “stayed silent’ which implies not that the others did not let her speak, but that she chose not to speak, and the fact that she stated that she was not very good at debating, implying that she does not often discuss politics with people with opposing viewpoints, I am guessing that her feelings were hurt by listening to someone criticize her candidate, and not that Susan actually took an aggressive tone. In addition, I bet Susan was surprised by her friend’s silence, since the OP never, not even at the end of the “diatribe”, stated that she did not wish to discuss politics. I am guessing Susan wanted to start a little discussion, especially since she and Sam had a ten minute “diatribe” about politics, and kept waiting for the OP and her husband to chime in with their viewpoints, and didn’t realize that OP and her husband didn’t want to talk about politics. I say, if you don’t want to talk about it, don’t answer questions about it, say you don’t want to talk about it, and don’t take it so personally, especially since lots of people are going to want to talk about politics, and goodness forbid you hear someone criticizing your candidate!

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DGS October 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

I agree that OP should have attempted to beandip or at least, redirect Sam and Susan, and while Sam and Susan are entitled to their beliefs, I do think it was wrong to say to the OP that Susan’s esteem for her had gone down. That was quite rude. I’d probably say something like, “Oh, Susan, I make it a rule to never discuss politics or religion at mealtime. Why don’t we address something truly important like the Kardashians?” And if choice celebrity gossip does not redirect, and Susan continues to rant on, suggest a book or movie recommendation that is slightly related to the topic that they are discussing but is far off enough (e.g. “Oh, and while you mention foreign policy, I recently read a memoir of Henry Kissinger’s where he talks about meeting the late Leonid Brezhnev”) and try to segue away from the current discussion.

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Ashley October 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

Whenever politics comes up, I just say “We’re done talking about politics, has anyone seen the new Iron Man 3 trailer that came out today?” Replace Iron Man 3 with whatever other relevant tidbit you like. I flat out refuse to discuss politics because it always leads to stupidity. I will bean dip to different conversations til I’m blue in the face.

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Shannan October 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

My family lives all over the country. Most live in red states but there is one part of the family who are “Chicago democrats”. Politics is something that is rarely discussed. We see each other so seldom we usually have better things to talk about.

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Roslyn October 23, 2012 at 11:33 am

“Your political opinions do not affect my regard for you”

Oh, I am writing this one down!!

I am independent because I don’t 100% agree with ANY PARTY. I think the two party system is archaic and I agree with the above, vote for the person, not the party.

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barbarian October 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm

My mother-in-law has asked my husband and I to “Please, please vote for Candidate X. My friend needs this person to win so he or she can land a business deal that would put him or her over the top”. Of course MIL thinks she will get a piece of the action from the deal too. I just replied, “We look at every option when we vote. We’ll think about it” and change the subject ASAP. My husband puts her down for her opinions impolitely sometimes. While visiting, he told her to change the channel because she plays a certain news network non-stop during the day “I can’t believe you watch this garbage”. I told him privately that all he needed to do was ask to change the channel to avoid grief.

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Powers October 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm

There are certain issues which go beyond politics and enter the realm of human rights. Economic and foreign policies are one thing… but it can be very difficult knowing that a friend supports policies that restrict human rights.

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Green123 October 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

The OP and her husband need to apply a HUGE dollop of Bean Dip if this happens again.

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Goldie October 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Sorry, but I think OP’s husband dropped the ball on this one. Both OP and “Joe” already knew that Sue was outspoken – precisely the reason why they had never discussed politics around her before. When Sue asked “are you ready for the presidential election”, would it have killed Joe to say “yes” and change the subject? Instead, he gave a response that pretty much outed his wife and put her on the spot against her will, then sat back and listened as Sue steamrolled over his wife for ten minutes, and even now, does not agree that Sue was rude to her (which, it goes without saying, she was!)

Like a few commenters before me, I too disagree with Admin that what happened was the OP’s fault, because she told Sue who she was voting for. OP did not tell Sue anything. It was Joe who told Sam and Sue that he and OP would cancel each other out, making it clear that one of them would be voting against Sue’s candidate of choice. Which gave the OP pretty much two options: lie to Sue and say it was her husband, and have her husband chewed out by Sue; or come clean and get chewed out by Sue. Not exactly “actually answering Sue’s question as to who belonged to which party”, if you ask me!

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WeatherGirl October 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Oh, my! A close family member and I have been having some, er, “interesting” discussions recently. He thinks I’m nuts for voting for my candidate (he’s told me as much, although he used a different word); I think he’s nuts for voting for his candidate (I haven’t told him that).

He and I used to be of the same party (in fact, I may be the only family member to vote for my current party… I’ve only been discussing politics with this one relative) up until a few years ago. I abstained from voting last election, but am definitely voting this year. I think Candidate X has the best vision for our country and I’m going to support him.

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Lerah99 October 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

When I find out a friend supports the opposing party from the one I support, I do lose respect for them. I’m not rude enough to tell them. But it is true. It makes me think “Why on earth would you support them?”

Also, being bisexual, theres a chance my life partner will be female rather than male. So when I find out a friend supports the political party that wants to restrict my human rights, it startles me. Just as I would be startled if my friend made some sort of racist remark like “Segragation really had it right. Those were the good old days.”

So, while Sarah was clearly in the wrong on this, I understand her impulse. I understand her feeling like “But if you realized what that party actually stands for and how people are affected, you wouldn’t still support them…”

However, as adults, we have to suck it up sometimes and accept that our friends have every right to hold views and beliefs that we find awful.

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Silverlily October 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Many of us are, of late, being asked for whom we are voting. I have found that this statement, derived from an Epic Rap Battles of History rap, tends to shut down an unwelcome discussion fast: “It’s hard for me to decide which is the shiny-est of two [insert plural form of extremely uncouth word here].”

Susan trekked into the land of Unforgivably Rude when she said to the OP: “My esteem for you has just gone down.” Yet it is hard not to feel this way about people who vote for candidates who then impose policies which impede one’s personal freedoms, income level, and civil rights. Such voters are helping to make these things happen; they aren’t just an abstract irritation.

Would I come out and say something this rude to someone? No. Even the quote from the beginning of my post is used only to shut down discussions which I feel have devolved into a personal attack.

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Erin October 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

It’s kind of sad that people are actually supporting the idea that it’s OK to dislike someone for the way they vote…no candidate will ever be exactly the right person for the job, so you pretty much have to hold your nose and vote for the person who most fits what you’re looking for. People are so much more than their party affiliation.

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The Elf October 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Lerah99, it is important to note that few people agree 100% with any given party’s complete political platform. So it is possible that your Republican friends are actually in favor of allowing gay marriage, but have chosen to align with the Republican party for other reasons. Give them the benefit of the doubt until you know for sure, please.

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Lo October 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm

@The Elf

As someone living in a state where the outcome of the vote is in no way in doubt, I think that if the vote is as good as cast the best thing anyone can do if they don’t like either candidate is vote third party in protest of the bipartisan system that is inhibiting our freedom of choice. Stop picking the lesser of two bad choices and lets broaden our choices. I am not a fan of the system either.

Of coures etiquette dictates that when discussing politics I put that in the nicest and most respectful way possible… but it’s hard to be nice about when so many people have such a low opinion of any third party, regardless of leaning. I just keep on doing my thing.

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Another Alice October 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Ugh, I feel bad for the OP. While I don’t think that discussing politics or a candidate in general is personal, the statement, “My esteem for you has just gone down” is VERY personal. For Susan, a person’s political preference DOES have to do with them personally.

However, I also agree with those suggesting a deflection, but not necessarily immediately. After all, the OP may have been perfectly comfortable disclosing her political preference to these friends; I think most people would be, to be honest. That’s why they’re your friends. However, the “esteem” comment should have been met with a cheerful, “Oh, goodness! Well, don’t worry. My esteem for you won’t change because of a political candidate!” and a quick change of subject.

It’s unfortunate that even friends can’t have a civilized discussion regarding politics. One of my best friends, that I consider to be almost a sister, has the same political beliefs as me – and yet her passion is through the roof, to the point where I don’t even want to talk about politics with her! And to think – I actually agree with her! ;-) I just don’t always want to get into a debate, regardless of whose side I’m on. I know I can be very passionate myself, so I try mightily especially around election time to just keep my mouth closed. At the end of the day, if you can’t have a calm, clear discussion or the person isn’t looking to be “enlightened” by your personal opinion (which most people aren’t), then you won’t change their mind anyway, so what’s the point?

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Spuck October 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I would not call Susan’s diatribe against the OP a personal attack, but I would still dub it an attack. No adult should even rant at another adult. Grown up conversations are all about the back and forth. Even if the discussion was about politics, Susan and her husband were acting like children. They did not respond to the OP’s silence like they should have, and I can imagine that they wouldn’t let her get a word in edge wise (without making a dramatic gesture) even if she bothered to speak up.

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