Historically, we were taught that politics, while crucial for our democracy, shouldn’t be enough to divide us. But party affiliations are infamously divisive, and 2016 was not a “normal” election. After Donald Trump’s victory, friendships and families that split their vote are still recovering from an intense divide. American voters, a study recently published in the American Journal of Political Science recently concluded, aren’t dispassionately discussing the nuances of tax policy, they’re angry about their country, and only getting angrier. A poll conducted by Monmouth University lays the situation out pretty clearly: “Fully 70% of American voters say that this year’s presidential campaign has brought out the worst in people. The poll finds 7 percent of Americans reporting they’ve lost a friend over this election.
Many are now asking “Can we still be friends after this crazy election?”. Obviously, It’s relatively easy to ignore opposing political opinions when they’re coming from the internet but what happens when it’s coming from your spouse, children or closest friends? If you’re looking for tips on how to survive the next few years, we’ve got some!
1. If friendship was only about sharing beliefs or interests, no one would have any friends.
While it is normal to spend time talking about each other’s perspective, don’t make it your life’s mission to argue your way into changing their mind. Even the more compelling and rational argument rarely changes anyone’s mind. In most cases, we only believe evidence that fits with what we already believe ( also called “biased assimilation effect). You’re better off giving each other a hand shake and agreeing to disagree.
2. Remember that what happens in your family is more important than who lives in the White House.
Strong relationships are not always the ones where everyone agrees on everything. On every election cycle, we’re going to have someone new in the White House, but your relationships have a much longer term, so keep what matters most in perspective.
3. Be wary of building walls.
Our ego wants to divide your world and create personal barriers. The game where people are different compared to you, the game where you are better than someone and worse than someone else. All of that creates fear. And so we build walls. But putting up walls tends to in the end hurt you more than protect you. But putting up walls tends to in the end hurt you more than protect you. So, don’t take it personally.
If a friend doesn’t share your opinion, it doesn’t mean they do not respect you.
4. Everything is better with some humor
“My first thought when I think about humor is it’s a great way for us to have evolved so we don’t have to hit each other with sticks,” says Scott Weems, a cognitive neuroscientist and author. If your friend has a good sense of humor, that will make any conversation and disagreement easier. As Victor Borge once said “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.”
5.What really matters
Do not forget that whatever any of us think about politics should mean infinitesimally less to you than what the people we care about mean in our life. They are the very reason you should even care about politics in the first place.