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Why Friendship Trumps Politics

This year’s presidential election has taken Americans through the ringer, and is quite possibly the most divisive election our generation has ever seen.

Understandably, emotions were high and for many, remaining friends with a person with an opposing view became nearly impossible. Issues such as a woman’s right to choose, gay rights, and racism became the forefront of many of this year’s election headlines—all because of a candidate whose marketing campaign took bipartisan issues to the next level.

Traditionally, Democrats have been viewed as the party of the working class while in recent years, Republicans have been viewed as borderline racist evangelicals and or staunch businessmen with a love of capitalism. So when Kanye West recently told a crowd of people he would have voted for Trump, people were shocked. And if they weren’t ready to disown the artist over previous antics, this was the nail in the coffin for many.

It’s easy to pull support from a business when we don’t agree with its politics. I’ve never eaten at Chick-fil-A and can’t see it happening in the foreseeable future due to the corporation’s stance on gay marriage. It’s a lot harder however, to pull your emotional support from those you love and who are loyal to you personally when it comes to politics.

For a long time it was a running joke between me and my mother that George W. Bush seemed like he’d be a good neighbor. We were horrified at his presidency, but thought it was mildly entertaining to imagine “W” coming to the rescue in a neighborly fashion and doing things like borrowing a cup of milk, or shoveling our snow.

In real life George W. has people to do all these things for him, but our joke illuminated the idea that some of the nicest people sometimes do and support political theories or perform actions in their business life that we don’t accept or agree with. But when somebody has seen you through intense emotional life situations, is it that easy to throw in the towel?

In some cases political differences can be mild. Choosing candidates in a primary election tends to be not so divisive, because both candidates are representative of a similar platform. In America, national elections tend to be more brutal because for some reason the Republican Party has taken a hard line against minorities and gays, while the Democrats—who say all the right things to minorities and the poor—don’t always follow through once they gain office.

The two-party system has left Americans skeptical of who they can trust vs. who is simply saying what’s needed to get elected, and the situation we find ourselves in now is representative of that fear. The times are bleak to say the least.

Because campaign promises so often never come to fruition once a politician is elected, Americans often choose candidates based on their rhetoric or who they like personally. This reason alone is why politics shouldn’t trump friendships. We shouldn’t assume that who a person votes for means they agree with the campaign rhetoric that a candidate uses to get elected. Voting is more strategic for many.

When a person votes, they aren’t simply voting for what a candidate is saying, but also for what a candidate is not saying. They also vote strategically by imagining what the outcome would be if a certain person is elected. Others simply vote for the lesser of the two evils.

I will never forget my fight with a cab driver back in 2007 when Obama was campaigning for the presidency. My 20-year-old self was sickened by the idea that a fellow Black person didn’t think America was ready for a Black president. And although I still think that cabbie was wrong, I understand today that he wasn’t self-hating, but was just a hater/skeptic. To assume a person is voting for a candidate simply based on that candidate’s platform is faulty reasoning. So when Kanye West says I would have voted for Trump, I assume there is a personal reason why, and that it’s not because Trump was backed by racists throughout his campaign.

When the two met on Tuesday, they made it a point to say they met as friends, and let’s be honest, do we always agree with our friends? Unfriending a person over politics is rarely a good idea, unless you know for a fact that they are indeed racist, homophobic, or downright evil. But nine times out of ten, it’s more than complicated.

Elizabeth Aguirre is a Digital Writer and Retail Design Project Manager living and working in Chicago, Il. When she’s not tweeting about social justice issues, she can be found meditating or blogging at cultureofthechi.com.