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Have you lost any friends or family over politics?

Don't make me unfriend you | Gina Trapani | Flickr

After Trump won we turned on each other and we’ve never been the same as a nation.

If we see someone wearing a MAGA hat or Biden 2020 shirt we know that person is one of them. A traitor to our values and to all we hold dear.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

In one night our good friend of 20 years or sweet Aunt Alice turned into either a “namby-pamby liberal snowflake” or a “heartless racist Trump-lover.”

Remember when you used to have friendly conversations with that guy at the gym and you never thought twice about whether he was a Republican or Democrat? Who cared?

But then after the 2016 election he made an offhanded comment like “well you know how it is with that lyin’ Hillary (or Trump)” and suddenly you knew all you needed to know about that guy.

Our candidate now defines who we are, or so we think.

Listen I know all the reasons Trump won. Some of it was the Dem’s fault. I know all the reasons his fans are doubling down on their Trump love. It’s what we do when we’re attacked. The more we hate your guy, the more you love your guy.  

Because if we hate your guy it must mean we hate all that you stand for. But it’s just not that simple.

You’re Mars and I’m Venus

In the first year or so after the election it was all the rage with pundits and town hall moderators to insist that we at least hear each other out. The idea was that if we at least listened to the other side maybe we’d come to some new understanding (if not agreement) and stop screaming.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

In theory I still believe that, but at this point we can’t even politely agree to disagree like we did BT (before Trump).

The best we can do now is smile, nod and zip it. Like the Hippocratic oath, at a minimum “do no harm.”

My stepmom, a lifelong Democrat activist thinks it’s tragic that we can’t bring up politics at the table anymore. I don’t think we’re doomed to never again politely talk partisan politics, but while Trump is still on the world stage we can’t come to the table hold hands and have happy happy epiphanies about Trump vs — everyone else.

The best we can do right now is agree that you’re Mars and I’m Venus (remember that book for struggling couples?). And then we need to move on and talk about things that have nothing to do with politics.

But unfortunately the pandemic is all we’re talking about right now.

I get it. It’s a really scary time. But even a pandemic that should have us “all in it together” has turned into another divisive political bloodbath.

Defend your values, don’t defend your candidate

Last month I told my daughter about a friend who I found out from another friend, has some pretty prejudice, maybe even racist views about people of color. I was pretty shocked and disappointed. My daughter said to me, “Mom, you need to stop being friends with her, she’s racist!”

But it’s just not that simple.

I really like this friend. She’s thoughtful, nice, a good listener and really fun. She has a good heart although we see the world really differently. I mean like her version is somewhere in the 1950’s where all (good) moms stay at home.

Now, if she ever says something supremely judgmental or racist in front of me I’ll be sure to calmly but firmly tell her how I feel. I have no problem standing up to my values.

But if my friend mentions she likes Trump (she hasn’t) I’ll just smile and move on. I won’t talk about Trump with people who love him.

The mere mention of DJT guarantees the room will go cold. People squirm, they look away, the fun dies and whatever relationship you had with that person is now a little awkward and a little tainted.

I can’t tell you how many people in the last four years told me that the election destroyed relationships, or at the very least put a serious wedge in between. Someone got political at the holiday table, the insults flew and someone unfriended someone or stormed out of the house.

Personally I never had an issue (until last year, more on that later). But it’s only because I make a point to never talk partisan politics in person.

But I do post politics on my Facebook page. All the time. I don’t attack friends who voted for Trump (but I do ask why? why?). I unmercifully go after Trump and his long list of GOP enablers.

Okay so about six months ago a close relative who’d never commented on any of my political posts decided she’d had enough of my Trump rants. Fair enough. I figure if I put my opinions out there some people will want to debate me.

But the problem was this close relative didn’t want to debate Trump’s policies. She wanted to rile me up and get personal.

And she wanted to get personal because I told her that I’m open to debating policy but I’m not open to debating Trump’s character. That pissed her off. Because if someone attacks our beloved candidate’s character, doesn’t it feel like they’re attacking our character?

In my view Trump’s sorely lacking in the character department. My relative 100% disagreed, citing as proof that Trump’s done plenty of good for the nation, that his wife loves him and that his kids turned out really well (I’ll leave all that alone).

But our Facebook disagreement really got going after I posted an article about Pence where he said we need to “spend more time on our knees than on the internet.” I wrote: “hee hee I know what he means, still this is funny stuff.”

Okay I know, not exactly mature. But sometimes childish irreverent humor is all I have left to survive the insanity.

So then one of my friends commented that “Pence is an ass” to which I “liked” his comment (Pence isn’t an ass, he’s a prince compared to Trump but his archaic LGBTQ views are indeed, asinine).

My relative was incensed that I supported my friend’s “ass” comment although her response to my friend was: “You’re an ass.” To which my friend wrote “You’re a troll.”

Yeah it went like that. So I stayed out of it.

Why I had to finally unfriend my relative

I tried to rationally explain my views about Trump and Pence. After a few futile back and forths my relative posted, “I’m bored now” adding a bunch of laughing emoji’s.

She posted laughing emoji’s in response to my sincere effort to explain my view on Trump which is first and foremost to focus on his character, and then on his policies (which I also don’t agree).

She wrote that her husband (who I’ve always adored) was also laughing at me. She said I needed to lighten up and that I had no sense of humor since Hillary lost. Gaslighting, however unintended.

I was so hurt and angry that I decided I had no choice but to unfriend my relative. People unfriend people all the time. I don’t. She’s the only person I’ve ever kicked off my page and it felt absolutely horrible.

But to stop the madness I had to do it. She’d started posting articles on my timeline about guns and Trump’s accomplishments saying that “my Trump haters and I needed to read this.”

When I told her it’s not cool to post opposing articles directly on someone’s timeline she said, “I don’t don’t care. You can do it on my page.”

I finally told her “clearly we shouldn’t have a relationship on Facebook.” Since then it seems we have no relationship which is pretty sad but I guess it’s what she wants.

My relative couldn’t separate the personal from the political so after 50 years of love and memories we’re done.

I decided a long time ago to never Facebook friend people. I mean why subject the unsuspecting into my world of inappropriate humor and Trump-bashing?

But if someone says she’s going to friend me I warn her that my page is stuffed with politics and super controversial stuff that might very well offend or piss her off.

If she still wants to friend me fine, she’s been warned.

Here’s my feeling about my Facebook posts:

It’s my page.

If you disagree with what I post then by all means present a counterpoint. I really don’t want to exist in a bubble which is why I watch Fox News sometimes or post Fox articles that seem balanced.

But I insist on two rules if you comment on my posts:

  1. Use facts and credible sources. I recommend checking sources for bias and factual rating on or
  2. Be respectful. No “libtard” or “mask-wearing sheep morons.” This of course goes for everyone. No “racist Trump-loving stupid assholes.” And you won’t catch me insulting Trump’s hair, tan, body etc. Granted insulting looks is one of his favorite past times but I don’t want to act like Trump. Going low diminishes credibility and the argument. If you want to guarantee the other side will tune you out or get nasty — sling personal insults.

You also have a few other options if my posts make you spitting mad:

Delete, scroll or unfriend me.

I honestly don’t mind if someone unfriends me. Do it loudly or do it silently. We can still be friends in person if you want. Easy enough. 

So I’m wondering, have you lost any family or friends because of your pro or con feelings about Trump? What happened? Or have you made a pact to avoid talking politics with friends and family?  Please share your story. No judgment.

More: Trump Nation. Yes We’re Divided, But You and I Are Fine.

Image credit

Laura G Owens

Writer. Blogger. Essayist. My focus is wellness, social commentary and personal essays that explore the messiness of being human. Our ambivalence. Our uncomfortable feelings that when revealed, shed shame and reveal our authentic selves.

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Site last updated March 14, 2024 @ 3:00 pm; This content last updated January 21, 2021 @ 2:31 pm

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