Friends Don’t Unfriend Friends for Fulfilling their Civic Duties

America, we have almost made it. In just a week, this national nightmare we are calling the 2016 presidential election will be over. The votes will be cast. A victor will be nominated, and life can finally return to normal. This election, more than any other in my lifetime, I think, has been about the character and the soul of our country. It has been about human decency, treating others with tolerance and respect (so long as they agree with me politically) and standing up for what is morally right (i.e. voting for the candidate I support and not the other one).  In my social media feed, I have seen “friends” threaten defriending over this election, some claiming it has nothing to do with politics (although it clearly does) and everything to do with standing up against oppression and hatred. Bravo, social media friends. I applaud your heroic stance to be willing to terminate our online association if I support the wrong candidate (And without naming names, I think we all know who I mean when I say “the wrong candidate”). I am pretty sure we went to a party together once, and to be willing to just throw all of that away over my political support? You’re making quite the statement with that stance. But, then again, people I’ve known for years are threatening the same, and I’m a bit taken back that people are willing to throw away actual real life friendships over this.
I suppose I can see their point though, because, seriously, how can anyone support a candidate who once vigorously supported building a wall between Mexico and the United States? Although to be fair that support has waned now that it has become politically expedient to do so. But, even so, why anybody would support somebody who once called a former campaign manager a “fucking jew bastard,” is completely beyond me. I mean, this is someone who once said of young black males that we needed to “bring them to heel,” someone who once joked that Mahatma Gandhi ran a gas station, someone whose campaign has internally referred to Muslims and blacks as “professional never-do-wells,” someone who thought it was funny to make a joke about “colored people time”, and someone who had the gall to go into a black church and say that “All lives matter.” In a black church! This is someone who clashed with the parents of slain United States soldiers, allegedly going so far as to call some of them “liars,” and someone who once referred to a sexual abuse victim as a “narcissistic looney tune.” I mean, honestly, with all the horrific things that Hillary Clinton has said, I’m surprised anyone would publicly support her. What, who did you think I was talking about? Trump?
Now someone will surely want to point out to me that some of these things are only alleged, or that maybe they were taken out of context, or they weren’t said publicly, or that she just misspoke, or this is just a negative spin on things that Hillary said but not what she meant, or some other reason why it’s ok for Hillary to have said these things. Then they will probably want to point out that Trump has said even more deplorable things. And then Trump’s supporters will leap to his defense and say that some of those things are only alleged, or that maybe they were taken out of context, or they weren’t said publicly, or that he just misspoke, or…. I mean, you get the picture right? And then they will want to point out that Hillary has said more horrible stuff, and so on. Because that is the level of political debate we are having right now in this election, “Sure my candidate is bad, but yours is worse!” followed by a “Nuh-uh, yours is worse!” But in reality, depending on your political beliefs, the media you choose to read, or the issues you choose to care about, the “worse” candidate is really in the eye of the beholder.
Now, I worry that this so far reads as a Hillary Clinton hit piece, which would make it a pro Trump piece as well, I suppose. But that’s truly not the intent. Because here’s the thing, I honestly do not care who you vote for. You’re going to make your decision based on whatever criteria you deem most important, and you’re going to cast your vote. Maybe you like Hillary’s tax plan, or Trump’s proposal for child care credits. Maybe you think Hillary is corrupt, or think Trump is despicable. Maybe for you, it’s about the Supreme Court, or Obamacare, or immigration policy. Whatever your reasons, I’m sure you have them, and they most probably aren’t that you are a closet racist or that you want to indiscriminately kill babies.  So you vote for whoever you want and I’ll do the same. And then when it’s all over, we can still be friends. Because friends sometimes disagree, and that’s ok. Friends are allowed to have different values and different priorities too. I can stomach you voting for Clinton. Or Trump.  Or Stein, or Johnson, or McMullin. Because in America, we vote for our preferred candidates and then we come together again as a country. And that is what makes America great. We’re not supposed to vilify our friends, or denounce them for supporting the “other” candidate, even if they are just social media friends. But for some reason, with this election that has become an acceptable way to treat people who disagree with you. It’s strange, because people seem to forget that the majority of the country dislikes both of the major party candidates for president and for good reason.
So, in conclusion, I hope you vote. Vote your conscience. Vote your self-interest. Vote for something, or against someone. But vote. And come November 9th, I hope I’m still your social media friend, because you will still be mine. I can’t wait to see your next cat meme.

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