“I love you, but I just don’t really agree with your lifestyle.”
“Just because I voted for Trump doesn’t mean I don’t care for you.”
“Trump’s policies aren’t actually going to affect you.”
“It’s just politics, it’s nothing personal.”
I’ve heard every single one of these comments – whether it was over lunch in high school, with friends both before and after the election, and just through everyday interactions with people with different personal and political ideologies from myself.
I’m used to it, it happens to everybody from all walks of life and from all political parties.
You’re going to come face to face with people that don’t agree with you politically, and sometimes you’re just not going to like them.
Which is fine.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that you don’t agree with someone’s views.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that you can still try to maintain a relationship regardless of different ideologies.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that you simply can’t get along with someone due to their views.
But it’s a completely different, and frankly ludicrous, thing to pretend and ignore the fact that your political thoughts, opinions, and choices are not personal, nor that they will be taken personally by someone.
When I tell someone that supports ‘traditional’ marriage that I support marriage equality, that’s a direct assault on their belief system.
When people tell me that they don’t believe in evolution, that’s a direct assault against my scientific beliefs.
When people tell me they don’t want non-Christians in the United States, that’s a direct assault against my personal belief system.
Let me be clear, I identify as a Christian, but I also strongly believe that under the Constitution, people have the right to identify with what religion they so choose – which is a core value I hold.
When people choose sides on key political policies and issues, they are attacking the other side, and it gets personal.
Want an example of how personal politics can be?
Look at the last election.
Both sides attacked the other’s character.
They focused not on the policy issues or promises while in office, and instead fixated on how corrupt the other was, how self-serving the other was, and how they were bad for the American people – not because of their policies, but because of their person.
The most remembered question of the debates was, “What is one nice thing you can say about your opponent?”
That question served no true purpose in the sense of the debate or in persuading voters’ opinions, and, in my opinion, was just used to continue the ongoing personal fight between candidates.
This piece isn’t supposed to be a liberal whining session, but instead to show everyone that politics is personal, and that everyone takes it personally.
The only times you’re truly not going to take politics personally is when your party is winning and in control.
And that’s okay.
It’s okay to be upset when there’s a policy that affects you in a negative way.
It’s okay to be elated when the Supreme Court rules in favor of a case that positively impacts your life.
It’s okay to not get along and to have different sides on issues.
What isn’t okay, and what is downright dangerous, is to ignore the notion that politics is anything but personal.
You’re going to be biased, and when someone attacks your values, they’re attacking you.
My collegiate career in NC State’s Student Senate has been defined by the debates and bills I have worked on, and even though people may say it’s not the case, every attack on my bill is an attack on me, my values, and my work.
And frankly, I don’t know of a way to get around this.
Politics is so ingrained in our society and the impact of the government on people’s lives is so pronounced that people take all policy changes personally – and that’s just the world we live in.
Just be sure to acknowledge that you’re biased, and remember what it feels like when you’re party isn’t the party in charge next time your friend complains about what’s going on in politics.
You don’t have to be impartial or remove all emotions and preconceptions of your ideologies – just have some compassion and empathy towards your fellow political junkie.
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