Why can’t we be friends?
A Pew Research Center survey found that nearly half of liberal Democrat respondents admit that discovering that a person voted for Donald Trump would make a friendship with that person difficult. The other half of respondents did not admit this.
In contrast, a large majority of conservative Republicans indicated to pollsters that they could put politics aside for the sake of a friendship with a person who voted for Hillary Clinton. Almost three-fourths of conservative Republicans said a person’s vote for Hillary Clinton would not put a “strain” on their relationship. Just a quarter of them said such a vote would strain the friendship.
The results reflect (and perhaps influence) the increasing partisanship in Washington and take the longstanding advice to keep politics out of polite conversation to a different level by keeping people with opposing political views out of the conversation entirely. The results also clash with stories in the not-so-distant past of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans buddying up.
Political history overflows with ideological enemies becoming personal friends. Democrat Jack Kennedy forged a friendship with Republican Joseph McCarthy, who hired his brother Bobby, dated sisters Eunice and Patricia, and served as the godfather to niece Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, occupying places closer to the opposing poles of the political spectrum than to one another, famously, and perhaps apocryphally, enjoyed beers together after legislative fights. The late Antonin Scalia, perhaps the most conservative member of the Supreme Court in recent times, found his closest friend on the bench in Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most liberal members in recent times.
The poll, released July 20, reinforces other polling data and anecdotal reports that suggest that politics so subsumes the lives of some liberals that friendships with conservatives remain off-limits
Gay writer Michael Musto, for instance, recently advocated dumping friends who disagree politically.
“Everything in a friendship that might have seemed good suddenly goes sour when I learn that they advocate Trump and his hideousness, which involves attempting to diminish rights for women, LGBTQs, Muslims, immigrants, the arts, and the non-rich, not to mention all those treasonous-sounding doings with Russia,” he explained. “Am I supposed to understand that a gay friend is simply concerned about tax breaks and therefore can’t be bothered to devote any energy to little things like human rights? Bye, Felicia!”
A Public Religion Research Institute poll taken after last year’s presidential election showed that almost three times as many liberals as conservatives blocked others on social media based on their political postings.
The political dealbreaker extends for some to romantic relationships.
“[I]’m left-leaning politically, and, truth be told, can’t see myself ever developing feelings for—or being in a relationship with—anyone that supports [T]rump,” one Wayne, Pennsylvania, Craigslist lonely-heart wrote potential beaus. A male professional “Seeking College Student for Dating” in San Francisco added this postscript to his Craigslist ad: “No Republicans or Trump Supporters need apply.”
How pervasive is the political intolerance? A recent OKCupid blog headline explained: “In 2017, Trump Is a Major Dating Dealbreaker. Golden Showers Are Not.”