Is Politics Worth Losing Family and Friends Over?

If someone had told us 50 years ago, that a news network, started by someone from another country, would come here and start a broadcast network that airs stories that are only in line with one party, we would have said, No, that will never happen, that’s propaganda! If someone said, Democrats and Republicans will be at each other’s throats, so much so, that friends are lost and family connections are strained and even broken, we would have all said, No way, never — that won’t happen in this country! 

But it has. News we see clearly as one-sided propaganda in countries like Russia and North Korea, we don’t recognize as propaganda here. And in March, when Fox News own analyst, Colonel Ralph Peters, quit after a decade of working with them because he claimed they were a propaganda machine, even stalwart Fox viewers must have been asking themselves, What motivated that? The New York Times quoted Peters as saying: “In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration,” If you can’t believe a respected, retired member of our military, who can you believe?

I’m sure Peters resignation has been hashed out back and forth, and both sides came up with their reasons for either believing or discrediting him.  And, in fairness, MSNBC can be just as one sided as Fox.

I don’t usually talk about politics in my blog because I have family members and great friends, who I love and have the greatest respect for, who are members of the Republican party.  And yes, I’m a registered Democrat, (but did vote for a Republican once).

If we could just talk issues, without personal attacks, that would be great, but it doesn’t happen anymore.

I simply refuse to paint all Republicans with a broad brush. When your own family and best friends are registered Republicans, you just don’t do that. I know and love these people. We have similar values, we were raised the same way,  and if they feel the way they do, I’m sure they have valid reasons. I’m not about to slam them. They have every right to their feelings.

But, so do I.

And we have to ask ourselves as a nation: Are politics worth losing family and good friends over?

Sadly, this post started out with me answering, absolutely not! But something happened that changed my mind.

I don’t post political things on Facebook because I think it’s very destructive. Plus, if I can’t prove a story is real, I won’t post it. Posting untrue stories just furthers ignorance and is incredibly destructive, as is posting demeaning things.

Which is why I recently confronted a Facebook friend over a video she/he posted. It was originally a commercial for Becel Margarine , a product of Unilever, sold in Canada and other countries. The commercial was developed by Ogilvy Canada. It was brilliant advertising, showing how people won’t bother to make an effort when it comes to their health. It shows two people, a black man and a white woman, on an escalator when the escalator stops running. Instead of walking up the stairs the rest of the way, they start yelling for help.

The commercial was then used by the Republican Party and labeled, Democrats on an Escalator during the 2008 election.

The Facebook friend was a relative. I’ve probably spent less than 24 hours in my entire life talking to this person, so I wouldn’t say we’re close, but she/he always seemed nice. Not only is the video insulting to me, as a hardworking Democrat, it’s insulting to the memory of my father, and my still living uncle, one of the hardest working people I know. All of us are Democrats.

I know this person was fond of my dad and my uncle, and I think, used to be fond of me, but probably no more. I reminded this person that people in the family, including me, are still hardworking Democrats and that she/he is better than this kind of post. I honestly did it thinking that if this person knew this post was hurtful, she/he wouldn’t post things like that anymore. I knew this person to be a good soul. I really didn’t do it to be nasty, and didn’t name call or demean, just pointed out that it was hurtful.

We went back and forth a few rounds, her/his friends chimed in that I had no sense of humor, then this person went on about how funny it was and how good the acting was, not knowing it had been an actual commercial first. She/he went on to post more things that just reinforced other negative stereotypes. When I commented again about the new posts, this person said, “Right or wrong, this is my Facebook page and I’ll post whatever I want.”

And even though I hated to do it, I unfriended this person because clearly whatever connection we had, that used to keep things civil and kind,  has disappeared into a haze of ugliness, prejudice and demeaning posts. And just like she/he has every right to post whatever she/he wants on Facebook, I have every right not to have to see posts that are insulting to me and the memory of my father.

In memory of the 50th Anniversary of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, I wanted to err on the side of love and compassion. There was a beautiful article in the Los Angeles Times last Sunday about the busboy, Juan Romero, who was in that last tragic photo of Bobby Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel. It made me sad all over again and I longed to honor Bobby Kennedy by mustering up all my love and understanding. I know that love always triumphs over hatred and that truth always prevails over lies, but love and truth seem to be losing lately.

Whatever hatred gets the most viewers wins, whether it’s on TV news or Facebook.Whoever shouts the loudest, or calls the other person the most demeaning name wins.  Behavior we would have disciplined our kids for we now accept from our leaders, and some of us do it in the name of Christianity. Being mean spirited, bigoted, lying, name calling, and posting things that are verifiably untrue, are all business as usual now. People have seen the lead taken by news media and our politicians, and have jumped on the bandwagon.

And we’re losing family and friends because of it. If Bobby Kennedy was here to see it, he’d be so disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “Is Politics Worth Losing Family and Friends Over?

  1. Francesca, your comments are right on the money! In years past, pride and arrogance eclipsed the better part of me. I was a PoliSci major, had all the answers, expressed very strong political views, and helped ignite more than a few unsavory family debates; I saw the damage this approach produced. As my brother once said, “History shows how political debates and family disagreements were so intense over issues of slavery and emancipation that brothers armed themselves and went to war against each other.” Do we value family enough to be more thoughtful in our responses and to know when we should simply keep our mouths shut? Silence, wise restraint, and words softly spoken are a better choice I believe. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Oh Jerry, I totally understand. I had real concerns about even writing this post because I love my family so much, that I’d hate to think I alienated anyone over these ideas. But I really put it out there because I think both sides need to show restraint. It’s something I learned from my dad…it’s much harder and takes much more maturity to keep your mouth shut than to pop off every time someone says something you disagree with. As my friend Carolyn says, if we all seek to understand, rather than judge, we’ll be much better off! Thanks so much for your thoughtful response! Feel free to repost this and forward it if it touched you and made you think. xoxo! Hey, let’s do lunch one of these days!

  2. I should state that I try to make a sincere attempt to “seek to understand” why someone thinks the way they do. It’s ok to have a different view, It’s just not ok to be an as about it. Teaching this to my kids has been challenging but I think its important.

  3. I do find it to be an intriguing time. As I get older I find myself less tolerant of those who generalize and make statements attributing the traits/ characteristics of some to all in a group. I struggle with those who constantly judge and are critical of others. Though I think we all are guilty of this on some level, some just take it too far for me. Maybe it’s the natural depletion of serotonin as I age, who knows. I too have utilized the ” take a break” feature on facebook on a few folks. I did it because I’m at a point in my life where I am making a conscious decision to avoid negativity. Life I too damn short and I want to maximize what time I have left with the people that I care about.

    • I would love to meet you guys for lunch anytime you’re ready! Just let me know. And I think you are right. I don’t mind talking politics with people who can discuss it rationally without name calling and being jerky about it. In fact, I have great discussions with one of my best friends, who happens to be a registered Republican. If people could just remember to respect each other, it could be so much more civilized, and even enlightening. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I’m not sure why it made you start again, but I’m sorry. And retirement hasn’t done a thing to you, you are as sharp as ever!

    • I totally understand Carolyn! I honestly only do FB because of my blog. It’s an unfortunate necessity. I am less tolerant of bigotry and generalizations than ever before. Maybe it’s because I realize I have a finite amount of time left on earth, or maybe it’s because I recently watched a documentary on Hitler. His attacks on Jews came first as a generalization. He blamed Jews for Germany losing the war, then he said Jews controlled too much money, then their businesses were broken into, then they were sent from their homes, and then they were killed. People can be convinced of anything, even murder if they have a charismatic enough leader. Hate speech starts it all. Thanks for taking the time to write. I love you!

  4. I just wrote a long response and they said it could not be posted. I block political posts on Facebook. I don’t unfriend, but take a break from them for 30 days. I joined Facebook for the pictures of family and friends, but politics. If I wanted politics, I would be watching the biased political channels!!!
    We have been blasted in person by family… I can keep calm, Al can not! This reminds me of the Civil War era where families were divided.
    Stay calm, avoid politics if possible, but speaking for myself, I find the whole situation stressful.
    Maybe we can meet us again for lunch with Sue in August?? I hope so.
    Marianne

  5. Fran: In these troubled times, you haven’t lost one ounce of your class! Luckily I don’t know too many Trumpletons, nor do I even associate with a large number of people these days. But, I did come very close to severing contact with a cousin with whom I’d always had a brotherly relationship, over his vehement support for the disaster we have in the White House–and as it is, he & I will never again be as close as we were for nearly 60 years. I’ve always felt Bobby Kennedy would have been the finest President we’d ever had. I still remember my lost feeling the morning I found out he had been shot–and my knowing at the time, that he (we?) would not survive. That lost feeling has come full circle for me in the past year-plus, which makes me appreciate you even more, for your personal courage and stamina as expressed in your views. I always wish the best for you, and hope you are spared and sheltered from all possible pain you could never deserve, for sticking with your convictions.

    • Aw, Greg, if I was capable of blushing, I would be right now. Thank you so much for such a kind response to a blog post I probably worried more about than any I’ve ever written. I hope it didn’t alienate those I’m close to, but maybe made them think about what they’re watching every day, and how it’s poisoning their relationships.

      Since we are both news people, we know, it’s the job of the press to watch those in government like a hawk, because the old saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is unfortunately very true. I think powerful people reach a point where they think they’re unassailable, and that’s the beauty and the duty of a free press. To let everyone know what’s really happening.

      Unfortunately, not all press is created equal. I’m always amazed at people who say, “Oh the press is biased.” Well, of course it is because it’s job is to be skeptical. You can love a president, but still take a serious look at what he’s doing. It doesn’t make you un-American, it makes you the epitome of American. It’s what our forefathers knew when they founded this country, that so many seem to have forgotten.

      OK, I’m stepping down off the soapbox now. Thank you Greg. You rock. We’ll have to get together for a coffee sometime. xo

  6. Sigh…….I scroll right past almost all political posts, never comment. I’ve considered closing my FB account but I have a few people I would really miss so I keep scrolling. It’s been a stressful 5 yrs. since my husband died, he was my only liberal family. I can’t disown my sons no matter their politics. Keep on keeping on Fran.

    • I will do my best, but I have to say today was really disheartening. So much vitriol came from a post about trying to respect each other and not posting things that are mean spirited or untrue. As I said before, I guess haters gonna hate. But if you keep loving your sons and they keep loving you, as I do my family, there is hope for us all.

  7. I loved Bobby Kennedy like no other politician in my lifetime. I often wonder how/if things would be different had he been elected POTUS. I saw him at a campaign stop in Springfield, PA, and can remember it as though it were yesterday. He had a heart of gold that always seemed to be in the right place.

    • Thank Rob. Yeah, I still remember how terribly sad I was the day he was shot. I was 12 and it was such a tragedy. I remember thinking, no matter who the good person is, he always gets shot. What a sad realization for a 12-year-old.

  8. Fran, you’ve learned as I have that so-called “social media” is actually highly “unsocialble media”. Each person will handle interaction on the internet as they please. I’m strictly out of any kind of deep discussion online because that never really happens. All it takes is one little slip or ambiguous remark and right away a forest fire is ablaze. It is symptomatic of many things wrong that have not been adequately addressed in real time. I think taking that energy and putting it to use in real time is more productive. That is why I do not engage very deeply online.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I think I am taking a page from your book and steering clear of politics from now on. I have never seen such hatred beamed at me, pretty much ever! And the whole point of this was to get people to think about why posting things online can be so hurtful and harmful. I guess it’s true, haters gonna hate.

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