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2008 Presidential Election, Family, Friends, Relationships

>What To Do With Family, Friends and Politics

>What should we do with family and close friends who share so many of the same values in life but differ sharply when it comes to politics? They support Barack Obama and you support McCain and Palin. Perhaps you agree on a wide range of theological matters and are even members of the same church. Maybe you agree, for instance, on approaches to raising to children, the value of hard work, or other similar matters. You are alike in so many ways, how could they support the other candidate?

The reason for the disagreement is probably due to the fact that you have differing macro values even while sharing many values on a micro level. Macro values would be things such as your view of mankind: is humankind basically good and able to be perfected through human progress or is humanity depraved and in need of spiritual transformation? Adherence to the first view can lead to support of utopian visions and a focus upon strategies such as transforming the environment around people so that the inherently good person may flourish rather than inner transformation. Adherence to the second view leads to a pessimistic view of mankind and skepticism of utopian dreams of healing all the world’s ills. Friends and family members may agree on a great deal on the micro level but differences on the macro level can lead to drastic differences as you may be currently experiencing during this election with those close to you.

The first thing to do is to avoid repeating the mistake of the Left which is to begin with the assumption that your political opponents want what is bad and they want this because they are bad. Many on the left continually assume this of their opponents on the right so you see conservatives portrayed negatively as people. Conservatives, generally speaking, tend to not see their opponents as bad but wrong. Their policies may result in bad things but we believe they desire what is good. They are just wrong. This is why you have liberals claiming that conservatives want children to starve and the elderly to go without medicine (see the welfare reform debates of the 90s). Conservatives may think their opponents are wrong, incorrect, misinformed, or even deluded or stupid but we do not assume that they are bad or want bad things for the country. Remember that your friends and family disagree with you, not because they are bad people, but because they have different ideas concerning the issues of the day. And the reason they have such different ideas even though you share so much in common is probably because you have different values on the macro level.

The second thing to do with family and friends who are voting differently than you is…nothing. Do not talk about it. That’s about it. You probably can talk about it to a small degree, maybe in general terms on a surface level. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a relationship with a close friend or family member that can handle debating and discussing deep political differences without any negative consequences for the relationship. Oftentimes, though, political differences can be explosive. It is not worth ruining a close relationship. Find some other things to talk about until the election is over.

[I am indebted to the practical wisdom of Dennis Prager. This post was adapted from similar advice on this same topic.]

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “>What To Do With Family, Friends and Politics

  1. >”Avoid repeating the mistake of the Left which is to begin with the assumption that your political opponents want what is bad and they want this because they are bad. Many on the left continually assume this of their opponents on the right so you see conservatives portrayed negatively as people. Conservatives, generally speaking, tend to not see their opponents as bad but wrong.”Really? Conservatives are that nice, giving the benefit of doubt to their opponents? What conservatives do this, ’cause I gotta meet them!I’ve been running an experiment for the past month, defending Obama and posing as a supporter online on various networking sites, like Facebook. The rancor and cruelty from my Evangelical Republican friends (and family) has been horrible. And it hasn’t been objective at all–a lot of the attacks have been personal attacks. They’d called me “very ungodly,” evil, stupid, emotional, foolish, etc. I was even told by one person that, since I’m a female and God made females to be inferior to males, I didn’t have the intellectual capacity to choose a president. I doubt he’d say the same thing if I chose the same guy he chooses!And the attacks are relentless. I’ve been very surprised at the response, because I thought my friends were more level-headed and open-minded, able to see different perspectives without stooping to personal attacks. Finally I asked them all to stop saying negative things and instead try to convince me by only saying positive things about their chosen candidate. I’ve had maybe two takers, but for the most part, they’ve been ignoring that request.And you know what? Being “on the other side” has opened my eyes to the way Conservatives and Evangelicals treat those of us across the aisle. It’s bad. Very bad. Yes, I said “those of US,” because in the midst of all the attacks, I decided I’m actually going follow through and vote for Obama. Call it a protest vote. Maybe I just want to see if we wake up on November 5th and the world is gone, as prophesied by some of my friends. Maybe I’m just a selfish greedy b****** who wants more government handouts and lower taxes, as was lobbed at me last week. Maybe I want to test the sovereignty of God.Whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to lose my salvation over this, because my spiritual well-being is not tied up in whoever wins the election. I’ll be okay. And so will you!

    Posted by mhgood | November 3, 2008, 1:44 pm
  2. >Timely words of wisdom. Good post Jeff.

    Posted by Kevin Bullock | November 1, 2008, 3:41 am

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