Back when it became clear Joe Biden was gonna beat Donald Trump in the presidential election, I kept seeing tweets from other Biden voters urging people like me to recall my disappointment in 2016 and show some sportsmanlike compassion toward my Republican friends. All I could say to that was, “My who?”
I don’t have Republican friends. I’ve had Republican acquaintances; I suppose we were friendly in the way of saying things like “hello” and “how are you?” I’m mainly thinking of old coworkers. But I don’t see them much now that I’m unemployed and home all the time. We certainly don’t seek each other out on social media. I’m not interested in what they think about anything happening in this country right now and I doubt they care to read my takes either.
Maybe you consider me intolerant. It’s true, I don’t have much tolerance for people with terrible values. Whether they care more about their personal wealth than the common good, blame immigrants for their problems, think black people deserve to be over-policed, believe poor people get too much free stuff, or prioritize ending abortion over all other social concerns, they seem pretty morally icky to me. And that’s not even accounting for the high potential for COVID denial and other forms of right-wing conspiracy theory. They’re not friendship material.
Perhaps you’re wondering if I can’t handle someone having opinions that differ from mine. Oh, I can have a lot of fun with a difference of opinion. I love taking hard stances on issues like “Which licorice do you prefer?” (black) or “Who is the best Beatle?” (George). I’ll happily argue about that stuff all day. But if I discover my friend is a misguided red licorice/John fan, I still respect them because their bad opinions don’t make our world a worse place for others to live.
No doubt some of you centrists who have Republican friends are shaking your heads in dismay because you take pride in having pals who disagree with your political beliefs. I’m curious, does that mean you have Maoist friends? Any anarchist buddies? Are any of your gun enthusiast pals arming up for the communist revolution? I have friends in all those categories. We don’t share identical political beliefs. But they’re still my comrades because as far as I’m concerned, we’re not THAT far from each other on the spectrum. Maybe you get along with Republicans because you’re not that far from them. I don’t think that’s anything to brag about, personally.
But hey, if you really like your reactionary pals, I wish you the best. I’m not here to talk anyone out of those relationships. My political goals — building democratic, multiracial, working-class people power — do not depend on that. But I will say this — if you do feel inclined to dump your Republican friends because you’re sickened that they voted for Trump again, or you can’t believe they’re defending the mob that stormed that Capitol, or maybe they were there themselves, just know that ditching them is a totally legitimate choice and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. If they call you a snowflake or say you’re weak for letting a difference of opinion get in the way of friendship, that’s just their way of coping with their inner ugliness. As with all breakups, the mutual ill will and lack of closure will feel weird for a while. But I predict you’ll feel better without them in your life, if their terrible values bother you that much.