Is it silly to end friendships over politics?


The Trump era has been hard on our relationships. White House staff complain no one in DC will date them. Fights over Trump are leading to divorce. But is it foolish to end friendships over political differences? Many argue that love and friendship should transcend politics, and that no one benefits when we shun members of the other team completely. But others say politics is about morals and values, and nobody needs amoral friends with crappy values. Would you end a friendship over politics?


Vice pointed out that the president himself has done nothing to assure the nation that we can stay connected and respect each other even if we differ politically. He built his campaign on hatred of the “other” and categorizing his opponents as enemies. This divisive situation isn’t just a byproduct of Trump, it’s something he incites and delights in.

Trickle-down Trumpism seems to be a startlingly real factor behind this rise in manic tribalist behavior. Trump’s identity, and his style of governance, is based on highly polarized divisiveness and o’sutspoken feuding. 

Trump Fans Are Owning Libs by Losing All Their Friends

But at Psychology Today, Michael W. Austin argues that when liberals like himself paint all Trump supporters with the same evil brush and refuse to even engage in a relationship with them, it just makes the societal problems that concern the left that much worse.

Many Trump supporters are not racist, they are not sexist, they are not homophobic, they are not nationalists. They have genuine moral concerns that led them to vote for Donald Trump. They are morally decent people who care about their country, their communities, and their families. I think they were deeply mistaken in voting for Trump. And I don’t agree with all of the perspectives I’m about to describe. But as I teach my students, one crucial ability that we need to develop is being able to stand in the shoes of others and try to see things from their perspective, without demonizing them.

Morally Decent Trump Supporters

Others say they’re ending friendships, but not over tariffs or taxes. In the Trump era, politics has become about racism, misogyny, access to health care and the very survival of marginalized communities. You can’t just “agree to disagree” over whether migrant children should be torn from their parents and imprisoned in internment camps. 

We had agreed to lay off politics, which, pre-Trump, had never been a focus for us. But then I opened my mouth. I just couldn’t help it. What is the value of a friendship, after all, if so much is off limits, all the way down to Colin Kaepernick and the NFL?

Can social psychologists explain why Trump is ruining my friendship?

In normal circumstances, refusing to befriend Republicans or Democrats would be silly and counterproductive, but we’re living in a different era now.

Call me moralistic, but I think being a racist or supporting a racist is a deep character flaw, and I don’t think I believe this because politics is too central to my life.

Trump isn’t just another politician: No, he is a dangerous demagogue who could do real harm to the country.

It’s OK to End Friendships Over Trump

But at the New York Times, Peter Wehner says we all need to take a step back. Americans are too quick to demonize those who don’t share their political beliefs.

When political differences shatter friendships, when we attribute disagreements to deep character flaws, it usually means politics has become too central to our lives.

Friendship in the age of Trump

Even Sen. Bernie Sanders took Hillary Clinton to task for calling some Trump supporters as “deplorable.” He and others argue that we gain nothing by labeling those who support Trump as stupid and bigoted or refusing to engage with them, and we further alienate those who might be willing to join the cause.

“Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks. I don’t agree, because I’ve been there.”

Sanders defends Trump voters: I don’t think they’re racists, sexists or homophobes

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