Why you should never discuss politics with friends! A lesson learned the hard way.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong – is the spirit of blogging supposed to be an avenue to share your opinions – and invite conversations regardless of differed opinions?

Earlier in the week, I had a very heated conversation with someone who has been my friend for five plus years. I knew not to discuss politics or religion with her, but during this particular conversation, I felt baited and cornered. As the result, I told her I loved her, I had loved her dearly as a friend, but I felt our friendship was over. I don’t know that I have had anything hurt that much in a long time – but in effort to move forward with personal goals I’m setting for myself in removing myself from stressful situations, I felt it necessary to remove myself from this one.

Here’s how it went down – for those who like to play armchair therapist… I’d appreciate a little honest and unbiased advice!

The girl I once called friend has shared her version on her blog, and well, it’s not exactly how I see it – and while she believes my version is wrong, I’m thinking her’s is the one that is a little off track. But that, I guess, is why they say – there are two sides to every story.

I tried not to discuss politics with her, I tried not to visit her blog and posts unless she specifically urged me to do so by instant messaging me a link. I knew we had differing views and I respected her difference of opinion. I posted on my blog, sometimes, not too often though because I knew she subscribed to my blog and honestly, I didn’t want to fan a flame I knew would ignite into an all out feud.

To me, that’s what respect is all about. She says I’m clever and manipulating with my words, but that’s not true. I’m expressing ONLY what I feel and believe based on the private conversation we had and she chose to make public – that hurt me, but I knew that was her goal, I knew she would – in fact, I gave a time limit to my family of how long it would take and it was even quicker than I’d anticipated – so I might as well say, for the record, she scored one for her home team. That’s how she deals with pain and anger. I know this about her.

She’d likely say that’s just my attempt at playing the victim again – with another poor me story and if that makes her feel better, I guess that’s ok and I’ll just chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on.

Anyway, my friend, IM’d me on the 9th with:

There’s a great town hall going on in WI. If you turn on Fox News you can see Palin and McCain answering questions from the audience. It’s a really good deal Gayla. You can see them working together. The questions are really good too.  They are off the cuff questions from the people that are attending.

I turned it over even though I think that Fox is as biased toward the right as the right thinks CNN is biased toward the left – but I played along.

Then she sent this:

You should put this girl in your news reader! MySpace Blog

The link is a young, black, conservative female voting for McCain

The following is the conversation that followed:

Me: I am adding things you send and other things I find to my reader on both candidates.

friend: Please read that entire piece I just sent you. Written by a black gal I might add.

Me: I see she’s black

friend: She actually has black commentators too. ;) I guess I’m a little obsessed when it comes to that because I didn’t see hardly any black people when Sarah Palin came.

Me: Honestly, my dad is cramming McCain down my throat so much that I’m getting a little irritated by having him forced on me. I still don’t think he’s good for my economy

(that was me trying to bow out of the conversation)

friend: I’m gonna tell you something and you’re probably not gonna like it…

This is when she proceeded to tell me why Obama was bad and McCain was good…

The conversation became pretty heated at this point, BOTH of us came out swinging with statements we knew to be very personal to each… I’ll admit I did that, but I don’t think she will own any blame for what ensued – it’s not in her nature and I believe her post will support that belief.

The conversation was typical of those I remember taking place between my liberal grandfather and his conservative friends when I was growing up. Seems times change, but political positions and beliefs of each don’t.

It’s become painfully clear why my grandmother always stressed to me to NEVER discuss politics or religion with friends or relatives. It’s just so damn hard to avoid it when some conservatives are so good at baiting and cornering a good fight. I almost think some of them thrive on it at least that’s my personal experience in my local area.

The main thing I wish everyone would understand is…

Across this country – which I do admit, I have said I absolutely detest at the moment, there are a varied group of peoples in varied situations that make different issues important to them.

In Texas it may be immigration

In Indiana, Ohio and Michigan – it’s the economy and jobs

In Florida it’s likely healthcare for the elderly

Regardless of what the issues are, there will be some that are most important to everyone – those are the issues individuals must weigh and vote for the candidate that is most like minded when it comes to those issues.

If I truly believe Obama is best for MY economical needs, then I should be able to cast my vote without shame or without being forced to defend my position.

I’m NOT a politician and I DON’T always have the words to support my position, but as an American, other American’s should just be glad that so many are voting – and are at least doing their homework – regardless of whether you feel their homework is wrong.

It may be wrong for you – but that doesn’t make it wrong altogether.

I tried to use personal and close examples of things that made me feel uncomfortable without point the finger directly – most times I’m dropping hints because I do truly hate to hurt peoples feelings. But hints were just not cutting it. I blew a gasket!

If immigration were the most important issue to me, I’d likely be voting for McCain – but it’s not.

Over the course of this election process, my instincts have lead me through a host of candidates. First I adored Guiliani – he was out. Then I admired Romney – he was out. Then Hillary and the dream of a Clinton/Bayh ticket – they were history.

What is left is the ONE politician I trust more than any other, spreading the message of hope and change and offered his endorsement to Barack Obama. That politician is Evan Bayh.

As I indicated earlier, I am not a politician – I don’t always understand the laws – I don’t always understand the jargon, but what I do understand is I have faith in one person who does – and if he has offered his endorsement to Obama, then it’s not out of question that I should at least trust his judgment and explore that candidate as the one that might just be for me.

Because of the events that took place recently between me and a person I called friend for over 5 years, I was able to stand up to my father tonight and tell him I would NOT, under any circumstance discuss politics with him. That he needed to know that he would not want to hear what I had to say and it was better to leave his political views outside my door when he comes to visit.

Time is too precious when spent with family – there are too many good times to be had, too many cherished memories to be created – to have it soiled by difference of opinions and views as it pertains to politics.

Naturally my dad being retired, single and a farmer – the issues that are important to him are going to be very different from those of me, a mother of 2, stepmother of 1, wife of a vet and as the primary breadwinner for my family.

That does not make my views and positions wrong – only different from others.

If the person I called friend can’t see my position as being just as important and found gratification in getting me so nervous and upset that my words didn’t make sense, then I don’t think that person was the friend I’d thought she was.

I can’t help but feel I’m doing something right, because God has blessed me in so many ways over the last several years. I truly feel in my heart that the karma I’m sending out is coming back to me in such a wonderful way – and that, to me, is unarguable.

Contrary to my friend, I’m not going to rush through my blogs and remove links to her stuff – I’m not going to rush through and dismiss her from all of my online activity – frankly I think that would be an injustice and quite immature – but if that’s what she’s got to do to make herself feel better, I guess that’s what some people just have to do. I’m a true blogger by nature and believe in a persons right to their opinion and without censorship and to act otherwise would be going against everything I believe.

Do you discuss politics and religion with friends and relatives? Have you found it difficult or do you only surround yourself with people who have the same beliefs? Have you had any bad experiences and if so, how did those work out?

*Update* – It’s taken 3 very long years, but my friend and I have grown up and beyond any political rift that existed before. I’m very happy to have my dear friend back!

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