DIFFERENT VIEWS: Is It Ever RIGHT to Lose a Friend Over Politics?

Written by Michael Cummings on October 15, 2016

No doubt many of you have heard the phrase, “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” Sometimes people are only there for one of these, sometimes two, or maybe all three. When you lose a friend, it’s rarely a pleasant experience and you often feel a loss – although, you may consider it a good thing later in life.

What if you lose your friend over politics?

I’ve heard conservative talk show hosts express incredulity that anyone would decide not to be friends with someone whose political beliefs are opposite of his own. The Glenn Beck Show recently pointed to a poll showing the following:

CBS News reports that nine percent of Hillary Clinton supporters said they’ve lost a friend because of the election and, 6 percent of Donald Trump supporters have said the same, as well as 3 percent of other voters. Monmouth noted that 7 percent of voters in previous political campaigns have also ended friendships.

In certain cases, I concede the possibility that friends can stay friends, and strangers can become friends, despite political opposition. However, you have to have something in common. If you don’t, the friendship is unlikely to last.

Let’s step back and ask why we’re friends with people. If you’re young, you don’t become friends just because you have the same school in common. You probably play the same sports, act in the same plays, sit next to each other in band, etc. One factor may set the stage for being friends (e.g. sports) but you have to have other things in common. Those “things” are values.

To varying degrees, my friends and I share religion, raising young families, Denver Broncos football, barbecue, good alcohol (of all kinds. No one’s picky), cigars, guns, hunting, fishing, and skiing. We also, mostly, share political views. If we share nothing but a past – e.g. we were friends in school – but have nothing in common now, why would there be outrage or despondency over losing the friendship? You don’t have to be enemies, but why would you be good friends?

Therefore, if you don’t think it’s important to stand with your hand over your heart during the National Anthem, we’re not getting off on the right foot. So, too, if you think Americans don’t pay enough in taxes. More:
• If you think abortion should be legal for anyone, anytime
• If you’re against the right of self-defense, and that the right to bear arms is a quaint but outdated notion
• If you support single payer healthcare
• If you believe there aren’t enough regulations
• If you believe Islam is a religion of peace, and that a worldwide Islamic reformation is not vital to the survival of Western civilization
• If you believe we don’t need a military
• If you believe I can wake up one day and identify as a woman, and legally use public restrooms intended for people with girl parts
• If you believe the earth is warming, man is causing it, and it’s catastrophic, and you believe the government has a right to tax and regulate to curb carbon emissions
• If you believe political correctness is necessary for civil society
• If you believe people should be forced to bake cakes, take pictures, officiate, or cater gay wedding ceremonies, or face fines and/or imprisonment
• If you think it’s acceptable for the Guggenheim Museum to feature an 18-karat gold toilet named “America” that museum patrons can pay to urinate and defecate in

Behind each of the above is a value system that, to me, is on a parallel universe to my own.
Supporting any one of these will lead me to think you’re crazy; you probably think the same of me. So we can be nice to each other. We can and should be civil. But we’re most likely not going to be friends.

And that’s okay.

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Share if you agree conflicting values can interfere with friendships.

Michael Cummings
Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.