Will Our Relationships Survive Politics?

 

When I first began to lament the absence of values in politics many years ago, I was told, in so many words, that’s politics. Get over it. Politics has followed its own set of rules forever, and that was simply the way things were. I should hold my nose and vote for the least bad candidate.

Whether or not that is still true today is something we can discuss. Of more importance to me is the role politics and values play in my relationships. The people on the Left with whom I’m friends are caring people; they aren’t violent or angry. In fact, I love them in part because of their kindness (and for tolerating me!)

But I’ve become uncomfortably aware that their intelligence and kindness may not be enough to maintain our friendships. They have taken positions politically and are resoundingly on the Left. There was a time when I simply said, well, we have so much in common otherwise that we’ll be okay if we simply avoid politics.

I’m not so sure if that’s true anymore.

Since politics and governance seem to be inextricably enmeshed, I’m finding that my friends on the Left have decided that anyone who isn’t on the Left doesn’t belong in politics or governance. Of course, one could say that I feel the same way. I think the difference between us is that the values I hold, not necessarily as a Conservative, but a person who calls herself a conservative, call on me to live my values in a very explicit way. I don’t believe in forcing my values on others, but I also don’t want them to force theirs on me. Due to their values that they expect to manifest in government in a restrictive and despotic way, they are condemning my values and demanding that I compromise them for the “good of others.”

The problems arise when their choices not only limit my choices, but imprison others, too.

Let me further explain my dilemma with my own friends, some of whom I’ve discussed on this site. I will describe my understanding of values by using the Moral Foundations Theory of Jonathan Haidt. I’m going to apply it liberally in order to adapt it to the extreme polarizations that we are experiencing today, so mine is not a pure application. But I think it will be helpful in understanding the strains that are arising in my relationships, and perhaps in yours. Haidt’s model includes Care/Harm; Fairness/Cheating; Loyalty/Betrayal; Authority/Subversion; and Sanctity/Degradation. I will compare the Left and Right through these categories.

  1. Care/Harm: Although the Left supposedly lauds the care of people of color as a priority, they are carrying out their goals by chastising, ridiculing, defaming, and blaming people who are not in those categories, in other words white people, for the current state of the country, especially for what they call systemic racism. To try to ostracize the majority of the people in this country through this argument is unconscionable. Those on the Right believe that we should help our friends and neighbors, but we are not responsible for hurting the entire society, particularly for something we’ve never done. All of my friends on the Left believe this racism exists. If I asked them if I was part of systemic racism, I suspect they would say (apologetically) that I am.
  2. Fairness/Cheating: In order to accomplish their goals, the Left is prepared to redistribute the money of everyone. The “rich” in this country (which still has not been defined) have more than they need and should provide more to those who have less. This could be done through taxes. The fairness comes in regarding the need for all of us to contribute, but not in determining the amount the government should be able to steal from us. From my perspective, fairness is a factor when I point out that we all have the opportunity to rise above our current spiritual and economic state in this country. In fact, if we simply give people money, they lose the opportunity to grow in their own self-confidence and self-reliance. If I were to ask my friends about my particular situation, they would probably state that I should at least contribute to those who have less—whatever that means.
  3. Loyalty/Betrayal: Loyalty can be experienced at many levels: loyalty to the country, the state, the community and our friends and family. Those on the Left that I know would insist they are loyal to the United States, and in the next breath list all the ways we have betrayed our fellow citizens. They would state that our errors far outweigh our achievements. Their loyalty to friends and family would only go as far as the compliance of those groups to the Left’s causes; in the face of disagreement, the Left would probably at a minimum call the Right misguided, at worst, evil and hateful. If I asked my friends how they felt about my loyalty, they would probably see me as a loyal friend; they would probably see my patriotism regarding the country as primitive and distasteful.
  4. Authority/subversion: In recent months, the Left has made their disdain for authority clear. Efforts to defund the police, attack law enforcement and willingness to burn down buildings or justify the actions of those who do are frightening. Rule of law is meaningless when social justice is a priority. Although burning buildings is terrible, from their perspective these acts are understandable given the state of the country. If I asked my friends about my support for law enforcement, they would reject my information about how law enforcement has been unfairly criticized and targeted.
  5. Sanctity/degradation: Sanctity has no place in the secular Left. If anything is sacred, it is their belief in their cause. Their leaders are idolized, their goals are sacred. Of my three friends, only one is religious; the other two believe in “spirit.” I believe that my religious friend focuses on those tenets that are congruent with the Left, and ignores or re-defines those that are in conflict with it. The other two have no concern about “serving G-d,” or deferring to a higher authority, since He doesn’t factor in their lives. We don’t discuss religion, since with the two non-believers, they aren’t much interested.

* * * * *

You may have a few questions about my analysis. First, why don’t I ask my friends how they feel, rather than guess? I already know their Leftist beliefs, because at times we’ve discussed them, enough for me to know where they stand. But if I asked them how they felt about me, they would probably tell me, but it would be awkward. At times, one has said I’m an exception to the typical Rightist. Besides, in one way it doesn’t matter what they think of me. What matters is how I see them as friends.

My major questions are, do I believe I should remain close to people whose values are so different than my own? How do I feel about people who are ill-informed about the facts regarding the current state of our country? Finally, am I prepared over the long-term to avoid discussing issues that are so important to me in order to maintain the semblance of close relationships? I know there are people who are friends with people who have very different values than their own. If I consider ending those friendships, rest assured I will find out what their values are, rather than speculate.

I’m just not sure that I want to maintain those friendships.

Have you lost friendships permanently due to values differences? If not, do you think that might happen in your own life?

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  1. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Giulietta (View Comment):
    I don’t think any native-born American takes it amiss if that person says, “I’m American”

    I feel gratified and proud.

    • #61
  2. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    As for America, we can’t seem to integrate our black underclass or our Native-American population. But what’s odd is that a Nigerian who is so black he’s purple integrates very quickly. I think our problem might be more of a class thing than a race thing.

    I don’t think it’s a class thing. I think it’s that those segments deliberately want to isolate themselves.

    • #62
  3. Giulietta Inactive
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    The French and British love to decry American racism but we do a far better job of assimilating different peoples than they do. It is almost a universal complaint by immigrant peoples that the Europeans are tribal in ways they do not admit or even realize so even after a generation or two, others feel they are not fully accepted. Clare Berlinski has written perceptively about this. When the banlieues stop being riot centers for France then they can lecture us about integration and tolerance.

    Yes my sister writes about that here on Ricochet based on her experience living in France. The funny thing is that after even a short time that a foreigner lives in the U.S., I don’t think any native-born American takes it amiss if that person says, “I’m American” but the equivalent case in France simply doesn’t come up with the same sentence about France- they would never say, “I’m French”. You just can’t take on French identity like that. I find it interesting that the unrest in the banlieues often comes from the 2nd generation, not the first. There is a strange nostalgia for the countries their parents left behind like Algeria. The 2nd generation was brought up and educated entirely in France and yet strikes out at the country that is entirely theirs.

    Do you mean Muslim immigrants to Europe? There are many Chinese from Hong Kong in Britain and many Vietnamese in France. I don’t hear much about them. Do they feel like foreigners in their own country?

    As for America, we can’t seem to integrate our black underclass or our Native-American population. But what’s odd is that a Nigerian who is so black he’s purple integrates very quickly. I think our problem might be more of a class thing than a race thing.

    Yes I was speaking more specifically about the Muslims in France but this likely extends to Muslims in other countries too. My impression – and this has been written about rather extensively– is that France has a problem with homegrown terrorism. There are instances that break the rule- the young man who decapitated the teacher two weeks ago was an 18 year-old Chechen and I am not sure how long he has been living in France. I wonder if the Asians in France feel like foreigners? I found the Chinese in France and Italy were quite isolated with their businesses and not very integrated with the larger society but that is a glancing impression.

    • #63
  4. Giulietta Inactive
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):
    Yes my sister writes about that here on Ricochet based on her experience living in France.

    So interesting! BTW, is your sister Toqueville-or something like that? You both are great writers!

    Yes, Toqueville is my older sister- She told me that I should join Ricochet and I think she was right:)

    • #64
  5. Giulietta Inactive
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):
    I don’t think any native-born American takes it amiss if that person says, “I’m American”

    I feel gratified and proud.

    Me too! It’s never bothered me in the slightest. I was always quite pleased when my ESL kids told me about coming to America finally after getting the official approval and visas and the church committees welcomed them with signs at the airport, “You’re home!” They told me very proudly, “I am American now!” and I just told them, “yes you are.” – Why not? Lovely kids.

    • #65
  6. CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker
    @CarolJoy

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    The French and British love to decry American racism but we do a far better job of assimilating different peoples than they do. It is almost a universal complaint by immigrant peoples that the Europeans are tribal in ways they do not admit or even realize so even after a generation or two, others feel they are not fully accepted. Clare Berlinski has written perceptively about this. When the banlieues stop being riot centers for France then they can lecture us about integration and tolerance.

    Yes my sister writes about that here on Ricochet based on her experience living in France. The funny thing is that after even a short time that a foreigner lives in the U.S., I don’t think any native-born American takes it amiss if that person says, “I’m American” but the equivalent case in France simply doesn’t come up with the same sentence about France- they would never say, “I’m French”. You just can’t take on French identity like that. I find it interesting that the unrest in the banlieues often comes from the 2nd generation, not the first. There is a strange nostalgia for the countries their parents left behind like Algeria. The 2nd generation was brought up and educated entirely in France and yet strikes out at the country that is entirely theirs.

    Do you mean Muslim immigrants to Europe? There are many Chinese from Hong Kong in Britain and many Vietnamese in France. I don’t hear much about them. Do they feel like foreigners in their own country?

    As for America, we can’t seem to integrate our black underclass or our Native-American population. But what’s odd is that a Nigerian who is so black he’s purple integrates very quickly. I think our problem might be more of a class thing than a race thing.

    In large cities where  there are decent job opportunities, we have been successful in integration. Many suburbs, from those of NYC out to Chicago and Oklahoma City, and on to the West Coast, are fully integrated.

    The big problem with integration is with the lowest end of society. So your comment about class is spot on.

    One of the sports channels had a very perceptive one hour show based on the lives of basketball players Larry Byrd and Magic Johnson. Johnson easily  got through college as although being black, he knew how to apply himself to his studies, with much encouragement from his dad and other male figures in his life.

    Larry Byrd, raised in a family where the father was a negative influence due to alcoholism, just couldn’t deal with college. He would have been one of society’s failures, despite his being white, except for his excellence in basketball.

     

    • #66
  7. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it. 

    • #67
  8. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker (View Comment):

    One of the sports channels had a very perceptive one hour show based on the lives of basketball players Larry Byrd and Magic Johnson. Johnson easily got through college as although being black, he knew how to apply himself to his studies, with much encouragement from his dad and other male figures in his life.

    Larry Byrd, raised in a family where the father was a negative influence due to alcoholism, just couldn’t deal with college. He would have been one of society’s failures, despite his being white, except for his excellence in basketball.

    Larry Byrd had a big advantage over Magic Johnson in one way. He couldn’t blame his failure on his color. Our ‘elite’ white and black left are encouraging an attitude of hopelessness and resentment among an underclass we should be trying to raise up. I am not saying that poor whites don’t have it rough in our society. But it does seem we don’t shackle our poor whites with the low bigotry of expectations. 

    • #68
  9. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    https://ricochet.com/803468/pit-20b-the-apocalypse-now-what-about-now-now/comment-page-435/#comment-4955946

    • #69
  10. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    It’s a fun time. You basically need to catch it on its first day and follow. The comments rack up fast and I’ve lost it before for constantly dismissing unchecked notifications.

    Otherwise, you need an invite or check the most popular/active feed…

    https://ricochet.com/803468/pit-20b-the-apocalypse-now-what-about-now-now/comment-page-436/#comment-4956003

     

    • #70
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    If not knowing where it is is all that is holding you back … here.

    • #71
  12. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    https://ricochet.com/803468/pit-20b-the-apocalypse-now-what-about-now-now/comment-page-435/#comment-4955946

    OK, I went there and now I am more confused than ever.

    • #72
  13. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Percival (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    If not knowing where it is is all that is holding you back … here.

    I checked it out. Not sure if it is the PIT or more second glass of wine.😳

    • #73
  14. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    EHerring (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    https://ricochet.com/803468/pit-20b-the-apocalypse-now-what-about-now-now/comment-page-435/#comment-4955946

    OK, I went there and now I am more confused than ever.

    As are we all.

    • #74
  15. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    EHerring (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    https://ricochet.com/803468/pit-20b-the-apocalypse-now-what-about-now-now/comment-page-435/#comment-4955946

    OK, I went there and now I am more confused than ever.

    Whenever I wander over to read a bit it just confirms for me that participating Ricochetti have waaaay to much time on their hands. :-)

    • #75
  16. Headedwest Inactive
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    The way it works for me is this: if we are in the same place and you start spouting off political hate, I won’t speak up. I’ll drift off and find somebody less hateful to talk to. I’ll never seek you out for anything, and if we again show up in the same place I won’t initiate any serious conversation with you. 

    I grew up under the mantra that polite people never discuss religion or politics unless they know they are with like minded people. If you do, you are not a person I want to be around.

    Part of this may be because I’m Swedish, and we invented social distancing.

    • #76
  17. Giulietta Inactive
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    The way it works for me is this: if we are in the same place and you start spouting off political hate, I won’t speak up. I’ll drift off and find somebody less hateful to talk to. I’ll never seek you out for anything, and if we again show up in the same place I won’t initiate any serious conversation with you.

    I grew up under the mantra that polite people never discuss religion or politics unless they know they are with like minded people. If you do, you are not a person I want to be around.

    Part of this may be because I’m Swedish, and we invented social distancing.

    That seems very reasonable. I imagine there is a tip-toe phase when you first meet new people and are learning what might be possible to talk about, or no? 

    • #77
  18. Headedwest Inactive
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    The way it works for me is this: if we are in the same place and you start spouting off political hate, I won’t speak up. I’ll drift off and find somebody less hateful to talk to. I’ll never seek you out for anything, and if we again show up in the same place I won’t initiate any serious conversation with you.

    I grew up under the mantra that polite people never discuss religion or politics unless they know they are with like minded people. If you do, you are not a person I want to be around.

    Part of this may be because I’m Swedish, and we invented social distancing.

    That seems very reasonable. I imagine there is a tip-toe phase when you first meet new people and are learning what might be possible to talk about, or no?

    It doesn’t happen instantly; you have to pick up small cues over time. I don’t like this, but the current situation is so toxic you just have to protect yourself.

    • #78
  19. CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker
    @CarolJoy

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    All my favourite relationships occur in the PIT.

    I stumbled onto the PIT once. Do t know how I got there and how to return to it.

    The PIT is a weird place. Every so often, notices from the PIT flood my notifications and I can’t avoid knowing how to get there. Then the notifications suddenly stop and so like you, I get stalled about how to get there.

    • #79
  20. CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker
    @CarolJoy

    Stina (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I’d like to reiterate one point, in case it wasn’t clear. I believe that people’s values–important values–are reflected in their politics. Is it appropriate to accept that a friend has differences with you in high-level values related to their political views? I’m trying to figure out if it’s right for me to accept that conflict between us and just avoid it, or to take it seriously in looking at our relationship. It seems like some of you don’t have a problem ignoring this conflict in values by simply avoiding politics. Am I hearing you correctly?

    It depends on how it affects other facets of our relationship.

    I had a friend where our relationship was largely predicated on theological discussion. I was an animal at the zoo worthy of study – I took the opposite position on just about everything. He was someone I could debate with without fearing loss of friendship. I could be intense and raise my voice and there’d be no stopping the debate over hurt feelings or intimidation.

    But something changed with BLM and the increasing rise of social justice outside college campuses. He started really buying the white privilege nonsense and I’m a bit of a nationalist on theological grounds, and he had a habit of calling people who disagreed with him a racist.

    We had a hard time reconciling our combative relationship at that point.

    That’s a shame. I was hoping to get through your post and hear you are still buddies.

    If he is a white male progressive, there is a chance that figuratively speaking, he will soon be eaten alive by some on the Left, and that might wake him up. (Or not.)

     

    • #80
  21. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker (View Comment):
    f he is a white male progressive, there is a chance that figuratively speaking, he will soon be eaten alive by some on the Left, and that might wake him up. (Or not.)

    He’s hispanic (by self-identification), wishes he were brown, and has lily-white wife and kids.

    His wife has traditionally been cooler towards SJW stuff, so I’m not certain if or when things start attacking his family if he’ll pivot. I’m praying for them.

    • #81
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Headedwest (View Comment):
    It doesn’t happen instantly; you have to pick up small cues over time. I don’t like this, but the current situation is so toxic you just have to protect yourself.

    If we don’t pay attention, we can be skewered or risk losing a relationship. There’s basically no other choice, unless we’re willing to write off all potential relationships, @headedwest.

    • #82
  23. Headedwest Inactive
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):
    It doesn’t happen instantly; you have to pick up small cues over time. I don’t like this, but the current situation is so toxic you just have to protect yourself.

    If we don’t pay attention, we can be skewered or risk losing a relationship. There’s basically no other choice, unless we’re willing to write off all potential relationships, @headedwest.

    Depends on the crowd, of course. Before I retired I was an academic, so it was rational for me to assume that 99% of my colleagues were insane leftists. Then it was up to me to figure out the few who were not.

    • #83
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