You Should Be Friends with People Who Vote Differently From You

How has that become a hot take?

Thank God the election is over. That might have been the most toxic I have seen social media in my entire life. One type of post, in particular, caught my eye the most. The sentiment expressed was basically: “if you voted for Trump, we are not friends, and also fuck you.” Many of the people whom I saw make such a post, I would consider my friends, though, unfortunately, they seem not to feel that same way about me, a Trump voter. Curiously, though I’m sure they existed, I did not see any right-wingers threaten to cut off Biden supporters whom they knew. On the contrary, most of them made posts that said, “I don’t care who you voted for, let’s just be friends,” or something else of the sort. In reality, if a friend of yours cuts off ties with you because of a political disagreement, he was never your friend in the first place.

In reality, if a friend of yours cuts off ties with you because of a political disagreement, he was never your friend in the first place.

My experience is not unique. In 2016, a poll found that almost a quarter of Democrats and only 9% of Republicans and independents would unfriend someone on social media due to political disagreements. A 2014 Pew Research study revealed that the same was true offline. There is a God-sized hole in the hearts of all people. Some choose to fill it with religious devotion, while others choose to fill it with politics. The latter choice is dangerous, and it is far more rampant on the left side of the aisle, and it is a choice that has led to increased division in our country.

One reason for the division is the lack of charitability toward opposing arguments. A popular Twitter post displayed a black person, a gay person, and a transperson juxtaposed with a Confederate, a Klansman, and a policeman. The post asks, “Can’t we just all be friends?’ It then answers, “No I don’t think we can.” There are two main pieces of lunacy here. The first, obviously, is equating the police with Confederates and Klansmen. The second is far broader. It is the choice to cast all conservatives as part of the two vile groups it names. According to those who made and shared the post, if you disagree with any part of the Black Lives Matter movement, you’re a racist. Don’t like abortion? You’re a sexist. In these peoples’ minds, if you do not want high taxes, rioters burning down your city, or even the threat of socialism, you’re a bigot.

According to those who made and shared the post, if you disagree with any part of the Black Lives Matter movement, you’re a racist. Don’t like abortion? You’re a sexist. In these peoples’ minds, if you do not want high taxes, rioters burning down your city, or even the threat of socialism, you’re a bigot.

This attitude is not isolated to social media. To be completely fair, a lot of the celebratory posts from Biden supporters were fairly innocuous. Some were even pretty funny. I could shrug off or laugh at most of the reactions, but there was one which made me feel genuinely sorry for the person reacting. I’m talking about Van Jones’ unfiltered response on CNN. When Anderson Cooper asked him to share his thoughts, Jones broke down crying live on air. He said that it was “easier to be a parent” and “easier to tell your kids character matters” because Biden won. “This is vindication for a lot of people who have really suffered,” he added through tears. “‘I can’t breathe: that wasn’t just George Floyd. That was a lot of people who felt they couldn’t breathe.” It is okay to be invested in an election, but if its outcome throws into peril how much you believe in the value of character, you have more issues than just politics. True, Jones’ job necessitates that he keep himself steeped in politics, but that does not excuse melting down. If anything, his job comes with the expectation of professionalism.

Leftists are not the only ones who have strong beliefs about issues. Take abortion, for example.  Joe Biden withdrew his support for the Hyde Amendment, a law that prohibits federal funding for abortion services. Conservatives such as myself believe that Joe Biden wants to fund the mass murder of babies with taxpayer funds, a major factor in our decision to vote for Trump. Despite this view, conservatives are not unfriending leftists at the same rate as the reverse. The reason for me personally: I acknowledge that I could be wrong. Maybe an unborn baby does not have the same dignity as a born one, maybe socialism works, and maybe Donald Trump is secretly a totalitarian fascist who wants to destroy our Republic. I have a good reason to believe that none of these statements are true, but I know that I am fallible. 

The same can not be said of the unfrienders. They have received a revelation from the woke gods, and any person who disagrees with their wishes is excommunicated. The truth, however, is that the people who voted differently from you still have dignity. They are still Americans. Thomas Jefferson said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend.” He, as well as the other Founders, knew that they were creating a pluralistic society, and they knew that many different opinions would need to be protected. No matter how you voted, there are at least 70 million people who voted differently. Most of those people are good, and they want the best for the country which you both love, so you’d better figure out how to live in it together.

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About Charles Hilu

Charles Hilu is a sophomore studying political science. Charles is also a student reporter for The College Fix, a daily publication which covers higher education. In addition to his writing, Charles serves as the secretary of Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Michigan.