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Published February 4, 2020

 

Managing politics and friends, family

By John Toth / The Bulletin

A friend recently posted a message on Facebook about how a couple of lifelong friends he knows parted ways because of political differences.

This friendship was many decades old. The two women have known each other since Kindergarten. They have not spoken to each other in two years. They don’t let their grandchildren play with each other.

It could be said that if politics breaks up a friendship, it wasn’t very strong in the first place. But according to my friend, this relationship was strong, and it lasted for a very long time – through grandchildren’s baptisms, weddings and graduations.

And it ended because of politics.

We live in interesting times, to put it mildly. We need to protect ourselves against what happened to these two old friends – former friends now. Let’s see how some of the odd couples in the political world keep from falling into this trap.

Kellyanne Conway and her husband, George seem to be doing well. They represent the extreme politically opposite couples.

Kellyanne ran President Trump’s campaign and now serves as his counselor. George has criticized Trump in public and on Twitter multiple times. They have been married since 2001 and have four children. While we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, their publicly visible lives seem to be doing just fine.

And look at James Carville and Mary Matalin’s two decades-long union. Carville is a Democratic commentator and strategist, and Matalin, his wife, is a conservative strategist. They have two daughters.

“We’re very practical in our local politics, and we’re philosophically opposed on the role and scope of government, but we love each other. What can I say?,” she told U.S. World and News Report.

I would guess that they have a lot of things in common that they focus on aside of their political differences – like kids, schools, community, spending time together and loving each other.

Here is my take on how to handle turbulent political waters with friends or family.

At family gatherings or when dining, talk about the Astros, the weather, school, neighbors, but never about politics. If the high rollers in the business of politics can do it, we can also.

If someone delves into politics at a gathering, change the subject. If they persist, tell them that they’ll have to stand in the corner for time-out, facing the wall. Just kidding, but I have been searching the Internet machine and found a possible escape route. Just say: “You’ve given me something to think about. Let’s talk about something else and come back to this at another time.”

Facebook friends who feel like their calling is to advocate political positions endlessly don’t realize that some of us may not be all that interested.

Although we care about our country and have views as to how it should be run, we also have other things to do – like working and enjoying our free time. You’ll regret jumping into one of their Facebook threads. Keep posting photos of vacations, pets, kids and grandkids. Funny memes and jokes are also a good idea.

Democracy can be messy at times. It is an inefficient form of government. The noise it generates can be deafening. But it should also be managed and kept in perspective.

So, my unsolicited advice to the two friends who have parted ways: Get back together and have a good time watching the grandkids play. And stay away from politics.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)