Why we can’t unfriend people for their political views

I get it.  

We all have those family members or friends who we’d rather slap in the face than listen to talking about politics. 

I spent the last three months blowing up my Facebook with pro-Biden material for my Fox News-watching relatives, and all they have to give me are angry faces and sarcastic comments.  

But, as tempting as it is to cut our ties with those with whom we do not agree, we simply cannot, and it is more complicated than keeping our spot at the Thanksgiving table.  

Many leftists and liberals are willing to pack their bags and leave relationships claiming a vote for Donald Trump, no matter your reasoning, was a vote for homophobia, sexism, white supremacy, ableism, xenophobia, and more bigotry. As if refusing to speak to them will magically show them how that is bad.  

Except, Joe Biden didn’t win by a landslide. Almost half of the country, including a surprisingly large percentage of minorities, voted for Trump. To many, he appealed to their insecurities about the economy, unemployment, and foreign affairs, and maybe it was easy to look past how he is bigoted because so were a lot of presidents prior to him. Anyone can see that America did not start being racist when Donald Trump took office.  

However, it did become divided. 

Even as Joe Biden took the stage in Wilmington, Delaware as the new President-Elect and promised to listen to all Americans, not just those who voted for him, Trump supporters still raged on Twitter about how the election was rigged. 

As if the 2016 election didn’t ruin enough relationships, the 2020 election cycle has probably broken a record for the number of people blocked, unfriended, publicly shamed, and disowned.  

However, unfriending people for their political views just opens the path for their hatred to grow stronger. You’re not going to change anything in them by cutting them off. More than likely, they’ll put a big fat Trump sign on their lawn to spite you.  

Rather, we need to have an open dialogue with each other. Talk to each other. Ask why we voted how we did. Try to see it from one another’s perspective.  

Ask those we don’t agree with what their goals are for themselves, their peers, and their nation. Show them that their goals are not too different from ours. In the end, we all want success and happiness, right?  

This creates a space for people to learn and grow from one another. People are much more likely to stray from their close-minded ways when you are willing to listen and understand. 

If we want to create an environment in the future where people are so uncomfortable with bigotry that figures like Donald Trump don’t have a chance at winning, we need to listen to the other half of the country that was OK with voting for him and stop seeing them in only one light.  

These conversations are vital. America is not as simple as racist people and those who are not. Bigotry is deeply woven into all of our institutions, and while it takes courage to confront those who are more blatant about it, it is going to take the effort of everyone to achieve equality. 

That means listening to your friends who disagree with you.  

We’ll never get the widespread support and acceptance we need to show our minority friends that they matter in politics if we don’t build bridges.  

We do not have time to bicker.  

Only in a unified America will we be a land where everyone is proud to stand for their flag.