Today’s topic has long been a fascinating discussion to drop into a group of (right-leaning) Baby Boomers. The subject of having “liberal friends”.
NOTE: We are NOT talking about Facebook Friends. We are talking about the old-fashioned We like each other because we choose to. Not because we have to friends.
This discussion as recently as ten years ago would, I proffer, have seen a much more conciliatory response with a bit of eye-brow raising, some tongue-clucking, and amused head-shaking…. with thoughts of your sister’s no-count nitwit 3rd husband spoiling the family’s Thanksgiving. Luckily no-count nitwit 3rd husbands are usually discarded for 4th husbands within a year or so so maybe your luck will change.
Under my definition, your sister’s no-count nitwit 3rd husband (who thought Michael Dukakis looked quite macho in that tank) does not qualify as “a friend”. …. nor does that multi-tattoed intern in your company’s mailroom. The one with the three nose rings wearing the Che Guevarra beret ….. “those people” are “liberals who have invaded your universe”. A very different category from “friends”.
Using the broadest definition of “liberal” and my personal definition of “friend”…. I might have THREE “liberal friends” at this point in my life. Two of those three would likely be deleted if I had to deal with their crap on any regular basis. The ONE has been a BFF since 3rd grade. Somewhere during our respective mid-life journeys we chose quite different ideological paths. Hey, it happens.
When we realized that; it was too late for either of us to ever “re-connect” in the old way again. Independently we both decided we would simply delete all sorta-kinda political subjects from our conversations both on-line and in-person. That left a short list “back then” (about seven years ago) that keeps getting shorter by the hour.
How much conversation can two baby boomer guys squeeze out of “cheerleaders we had crushes on in high school” and “whatever happened to ol’ whatshisname?” Most of our emails these days involve exchanging obituaries of former classmates. We are “trying” but it’s definitely not like it used to be… or ever will be again. ….. sigh.
NOTE: As a benchmark…. I had “friends” who voted Obama in ’08 thinking The Great Unifier would resolve America’s racial divide. I rolled my eyes but gave’em the benefit of naivite. The ones who repeated that mistake in ’12 got zapped from my Contact list. (See below re: “avoiding confrontation”)
To me, “a friend” is someone you can “be yourself” around. No need to pretend or apologize…. just me being me and you being you and that’s what we appreciate about each other. “Old friends from back when” are a different category from that “nice couple that moved into your cul-de-sac four years ago”. You are “friendly” with the latter…. at least until they buy a barking dog or put that Hillary 2016 sign in their yard.
“A friend” is different from a client. You are an accountant, attorney, real estate, insurance, bank officer, mechanic, sex therapist, yoga instructor, or “mow yards for a living”. If you happen to learn the political leanings of your clients you push it way back in your cognitive awareness. If you can provide them your professional service without considering they are “f-in nutz” then it’s OK. That liberals tend to be slow payers and totally unappreciative of anything you do for them can be an issue.
From the service-seeker side of that equation, several years ago I made a list of the service providers we use….. from “our Korean dry cleaner lady” to “Robert The World’s Greatest Mechanic” to “Carrie The Commando Accountant” etc etc etc. The list was 10-12 long and everyone of’em share my ideological bent. No, I don’t ask as a requirement for doing business, but somehow it just leaks out over time.
It – being a freakin’liberal – manifests itself in (1) body language…. (2) assorted lack of patriotic symbols…. (3) trigger phrases from bumperstickers ….. and an over-all conversational tone that radiates “my colon is full of concrete”. I can usually tell within five minutes. You’ve heard of Gay-dar. I have Lib-dar. When I get within ½ mile of Chapel Hill, alarms start going off like London during The Blitz.
With “our dry cleaner lady” I went in one day 20 years ago and she had Rush on the radio. She had no clue (then) “what I am”. I noted “You do know not everyone is going to appreciate that”? “It’s my store” she replied smiling. I went around the counter and gave her a big hug. If competing dry cleaners cut her price by 90% I will NEVER leave her. Sometimes I take perfectly clean shirts in just to support her.
But what about “family members” you ask? That can be a problem. In our extended family we have “one of’em” out of about a dozen adults total. She learned really early to sit quietly at holiday mealtimes and not allow the grinding of her back teeth to be heard. Your situation might be more complicated.
I inadvertedly encountered “one of’em” recently on social media. “Encountering one of’em” has become a punch line of the New Millenium. I commented on a thread started by a Conserv/Repub about “my liberal friend said….”. I offered a 25-word synopsis of this essay. Before you could say “The Party of Peace, Love, and Joy” his “liberal friend” was calling my mamma names I had to look up in an Obscenity Thesaurus.
Do liberals have access to a special “obscene names” dictionary? Hardly a day goes by that I’m not called “something” I know is meant to be derogatory but have no clue how or why. I was thinking of changing my name to “Agent Hitler The Homophobic Racist Bigot” but it was already taken and there’s quite a waiting list with Go Daddy.
BTW…. When I delete “a friend” who becomes “too liberal” for me to bother with, I do it without confrontation or making a BFD about it. For me to avoid confrontation is totally out of character but I do it out of respect for the fond memories I once shared with that individual before “the tie that binds” was severed…. I don’t initiate further contact. If they contact me, I reply VERY succinctly… but politely.
What about the “if we don’t talk, how will we ever come together….” Yadda yadda? So if I sit down and talk fine dining with a Viet Namese I might decide to eat Fido for lunch? America is soooo far beyond “resolve our petty differences” and “find compromise”. There is nothing “petty” about our differences and you have obviously never tried to “compromise” with a liberal….
…. Maybe you find pleasure in arguing politics (which now encompasses EVERYTHING) with “friends”. I don’t.
…. Maybe you buy shoes three sizes too small on purpose. I don’t.
…. Maybe you leave the milk out so it will “go bad” quicker and you enjoy sour milk. I don’t.
If you are holding on to “liberal friends” hoping for a larger crowd at your funeral…. Forget that. The only factor that will determine who/how many show up at your funeral is ……….. the Weather. …. which leads to an argument over Global Warming.