Opinion: Is the Election Really Worth Giving Up Your Friends?

As part of our “Love Essentially” series, Jackie Pilossoph helps us navigate the complex world of relationships. Have a question that you would like her to answer? Contact her here, and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

Like most Americans, my first thought when I woke up after election night was, ‘Who is our next president?’ Before I even got out of bed, I turned on the TV, only to find out that neither candidate had a victory.

Despite the discomfort, stress and fear of the unknown that I was carrying around, I tried to go about my day as normal as possible. I walked my dog, made coffee, checked my emails and began working. As I usually do mid-morning, I went on Facebook.

What I saw was very notable and actually refreshing. Surprisingly, no one was posting any political comments. Because the outcome was so up in the air, I felt like there was a sensitivity, almost a courtesy, keeping people from gloating or smearing. For the first time in months, even years, I felt a unity in that no matter who you voted for, people just wanted to see fair results and a winner declared. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

But just when my faith in less divisiveness began to renew, I stumbled on this post, and it had a huge effect on me. On a side note, I have removed the candidate’s name because it’s not relevant in the message I want to ultimately convey.

It doesn’t matter who wins at this point. I’ve seen enough to know that I’m deeply disgusted by so many of my fellow “Americans.” For years, I’ve seen social posts that demand kindness and compassion. They insist “we’ll still be friends, no matter who you vote for.”

That is not OK with me. If you voted for ___, please remove yourself from my Friends List. I don’t care how long we’ve known each other. I don’t care if we’re related. If you voted against the life and rights of me and my loved ones, we are not “friends.”

I found this post disheartening, depressing, and frankly, immature. Is this what our democracy is coming down to? Sacrificing friendships for opposing political views? Suddenly, I felt really sad. 

I decided to cheer myself up by taking my dog for another walk, a longer walk on this unseasonably warm late-fall day. What’s so interesting is that when I got outside, the first thing I noticed was the deep blue sky. I then found inspiration and gratitude for the beautiful fall colors of the trees, plants and flowers. As I looked down at my little dog, happy as could be, trotting along sniffing everything in sight, I realized something.

No matter who’s in the White House in 2021, there’s a lot that isn’t going to change. I am still going to have gifts that include the pleasure I get from these walks. If the person I voted for loses, I will still have pleasures like of making coffee every morning, having a job I love, being a mom, writing, and more. 

Whether Biden or Trump is president, I will remain in control of doing the things in my life that I have the ability to control. That includes the thing I love most: spending time with friends and the people I love. They’re here for me. Except this one Facebook person who wants me to unfriend her.

Why on earth would I give up even one friend whose political view differs from mine? If I dump a friend for seeing things differently in politics, should I also stop being friends with people who are of a different religion because it’s not what I believe? Should I end relationships with those who have dissimilar values when it comes to parenting? In fact, should I say bu-bye to a friend who prefers tea instead of coffee or cats instead of dogs? Of course not. Instead, why not respect other’s opinions? In fact, why not celebrate our differences? That’s what makes the relationships so interesting and beautiful; that we can respect each other’s views and love unconditionally.

If the presidential candidate you voted for lost, here’s what you could be facing over the next four years. You could turn on the news and see the president speaking and cringe or cry or get angry. You might see government policy changes that upset you. And let’s be honest, you could end up being affected by them in a way you see negatively. I won’t minimize that. Those changes are no small thing. 

Photo courtesy of RawPixel.

But, why stay angry over things in which you have no control and/or something that hasn’t happened yet? You voted. That’s the extent of the control most of us have when it comes to politics. Does it help to end friendships with those who are happy about the new president? 

I am sensitive to the high-emotions that run after a presidential election. Several years ago, after watching my candidate lose an election, I refused to watch him on TV, and instead watched Seinfeld reruns for the first six weeks of his presidency. In another election, a close girlfriend of mine told me she didn’t get out of bed for two days, except to grab a bag of potato chips and to answer the door for the pizza delivery guy. 

Elections are very personal to people, and I’m not minimizing the disappointment, frustration and fear someone might experience upon learning the president of the United States is someone for whom they have strong negative feelings. But by dumping your friends over it, all you are doing is hurting yourself.

Remember, it’s 2020, so it’s not surprising that anything can happen. Whichever candidate ends up with a victory, and whether that’s tomorrow, next week or next month, the beauty around you and the people you adore are your victory. In essence, those who have love in their lives are the real winners. 

Think of it this way. In the long scheme of things, most politicians come and go. They serve either a two-year or four-year term. True friends and family, on the other hand, serve a life-long term. That to me means a hell of a lot more than Mr. President, whoever he may be.

Do you feel the election is worth dumping a friend over? As part of our “You Said It” Op-Ed series, we invite contributors to submit their opinion pieces. The views reflected in these pieces may not be our own. Have a submission? Contact us here.

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Jackie Pilossoph is a former television journalist and newspaper features reporter. The author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially, Pilossoph is also the creator of the divorce support website, Divorced Girl Smiling. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers.

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