Can You Be Close Friends With Someone Who Doesn’t Share Your Political Views?

I found out the other night that my friend is a Republican. She hasn’t always been this way. There was once a time when we were both equally liberal, sharing our apartment on East 7th Street back in the day, broke and happy. But then something happened and she changed. I don’t know when this thing came over her, if it’s contagious or if there are meds for the situation, but apparently she’s voting for Mitt Romney and there’s nothing I can do about it. Barack doesn’t give her shivers when he speaks anymore.

Of course, she has every right to vote for whomever she wants, but I was just surprised by this new her. Do her parents know? Was this how she was going to raise her child? Why didn’t I get a memo? It clearly could not have happened over night; it must have taken some time to get that way.

If we were dating, it would be an issue for me. I’m quite certain I couldn’t date someone who hung out on that end of the political spectrum. However, she’s my friend, my best friend to be exact, so I can’t fault her for having different political opinions from me. But it’s still strange when you realize that people can do a 180 on something, and probably won’t be doing a 180 back.

We put the topic to bed, because we hadn’t seen each other in months and there was no sense in ruining our black truffle pasta with debating something that neither side can win. I know that she and I will always be close — it doesn’t matter how we cast our ballot, but I also know that for some, that’s a deal-breaker for friendships. But I figure as long as she doesn’t set up camp outside a Planned Parenthood trying to deny a woman’s right to choice, then we’ll be OK.



Photo: Someecards

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    • Tania

      That really depends. I’m quite liberal. If they were voting Conservative (one of the major parties in Canada), it might not be an issue. UNLESS they were voting Conservative (over NDP, Liberal, Green, Bloc Quebecois, etc) because they were hoping for restricted abortion rights (there are currently no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada, something the Conservative government is currently trying to change), to get rid of the equality act, etc. That would be a deal-breaker (and also unlikely unless they were from a small town, or Alberta. Albertans have almost as many people who believe in Intelligent Design as the States does).

      I like using parentheses, it seems. I hope it makes sense.

    • M -

      I just want to say that it’s a difficult friendship to maintain – one of my oldest, close friends and I have always shared a different political/cultural opinion. We’re from a country where there are ethnic tensions, and we’re on opposite sides – him on the more privileged side, me on the lesser. We always tried not to discuss politics, because we obviously don’t understand each others’ position, but one discussion got out of hand and we had a massive argument, ending in tears. We managed to talk things through, but I’m not sure things will ever be the same.

    • Jamie Peck

      Nope. Couldn’t do it. Guess I’m not as good a person as my boyfriend, who apparently can.

      • NotThumper

        I’m with you Jamie, I can’t do it either. I’m not terribly political but this election has me fired up because of the women’s rights issues. I’m ready to write off former friends and even relatives who only care about $$$ as opposed to the bigger issues at hand. I’m sorry but someone shortchanging your pension is not as big a deal as someone revoking my basic human rights! (that last bit was towards a friend of mine in the military who is hellbent on voting Romney because he claims he’ll lose money if he doesn’t.)

    • Marissa

      I have conservative friends, but they mostly play the “fiscally conservative” card, which I’m actually kind of against b/c ultimately you’re trading your views on taxes over compassion for social programs. However, as long as you thoroughly think through your choices, then GREAT. I am not friends with people who vote mindlessly and carelessly, or who don’t vote at all.

    • Renee

      I guess I would be more concerned about the 180 turn. Why change so drastically? What caused that to happen? Has she changed in other ways.

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure I could be friends with someone who has beliefs that are morally repugnant to me (trying to take away the rights of others).

      So if she is worried about the economy, so wants to vote conservative, while I may disagree, I understand the impetus. But, if she is anti-choice, anti-gay rights, anti-poor people ect. then we would have a problem.

    • ThinksForHerself

      I think its entirely possible that two intelligent, open minded and tolerant persons can be friends despite their political beliefs. Both just have to be well read instead of just parroting what they hear in 20 second sound bites on TV or whatever limited exposure they have to the press. Sometimes you have to read both liberal and conservatives papers to get the truth. I don’t mean, relying on Colbert or Stewart for your news, I mean, reading both National and International News and then agree to discuss with your friend. Remember, you can’t point the finger and call someone intolerant if you yourself aren’t being tolerant and open.

      • Katrina

        My best friend and I disagree on religion, but we discuss it quite often. She is Nazarene and I’m an atheist. We weren’t always this way, when we were teenagers I was Catholic and we sometimes went to each other’s churches. But, as we grew older I changed and stopped believing in religion and the idea of a God. That doesn’t mean she loves me less or that I think she is less intelligent for believing something science can’t prove, it means that our conversations have changed. It’s okay for the conversation to change, it means that you’re both growing.

      • LaLa

        Yes! You said pretty much everything I was going to say. My husband and I have some very different political views, but we still love each other. It makes it fun. We had some very spirited debates during both conventions. But I thinks that’s a good thing (debating, not arguing). In fact we both laugh and wonder what two people who agreed on everything talk about. I think the most important thing to both of us is that a person come up with his or her political views themselves. And, like the above person said, if you preach tolerance then you should be tolerant yourself.

    • Katrina

      If she is only ‘fiscally conservative’ then maybe Gary Johnson would be the better option for her.

    • Lo

      Probably depends on the issue. I have some views that might be conservative (government snoopin’), and most that are probably liberal (civil rights). I guess my deal-breaker would be anything that interferes with how we live our personal lives — say, cutting state interference down to a minimum but replacing it with religious law.

    • Lisa

      My best friend and I are still best friends despite political differences, but then again we almost had a friend breakup the other year and had to basically form a contract over what we’re not allowed to talk about so that hate and claw-scratching will not occur. It works out dandy!

    • Gibson

      It’s all about talking and learning. When you live in a midwestern college town you have friends anywhere from Anarchists to people who think Ben Bernanke’s name is actually “666″. As long as they listen, and as long as you listen, and you realize the thinking is without the bullshit talking points and comes from thought, you can always debate. Mentre che la speranza ha fior del verde

    • PortraitofMmeX

      Nope. Not interested in having friends like that. There are some political-ish issues I can disagree over with friends but when it comes down to it, I find the Republican platform reprehensible and I could not have adequate respect for someone who would support it to be her friend.

      This is not to say that I couldn’t put on my manners and be friendly to someone with different politics than mine, but we could never be actual friends.

    • Michael

      I have several friends with whom I disagree (sometimes violently) politically , but I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t continue the friendships, here’s why: I consider myself not only politically to the left but socially as well, and as I see it, one of the primary tenets of being “liberal” is acceptance. Acceptance of others as they are, and not as clones of us, acceptance that there are reasons people believe whet they do and that those reasons may be (at least definitely, in the case of one) part of the reason we get along so well in the first place, and finally, and most importantly, him being one of my dearest friends has lass to do with his politics than it does with his fair, kind and wonderful heart.

      I also don’t believe that you grow if you don’t surround yourself with people who disagree with you, no one can agree with you on every topic and that friction is what makes us unique, interesting and attractive. I know I would move heaven and earth for my friend if he needed me to, and I am positive he would do the same. That goes beyond political ideology or even religious belief. (the friend I am closest with is also a conservative christian while I am an vocal Atheist)