Politics Creates Frenemies.

Less than two weeks out from a very big and historic election I am relieved to be coming to an end of my own personal political dilemma. It’s not about who gets my vote, but with whom I can freely dish about it. Clearly, it’s no secret who I support. I openly wear my politics on my Tahari pantsuits or Juicy sweats depending on the day of the week. But my politics recently has cost me a couple of friendships or at least tempered them after shocking revelations that someone whom I adore and respect is actually not on my team. So while I’ve always prided myself on being a non judgmental friend, I’m embarrassed to admit that several relationships have chilled because of their unseemly admissions of supporting the GOP. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Politics this cycle has turned friends into frenemies.


So during this two-year long marathon of a political season, I’ve been more closeted about exactly how I feel. The primary was a rough time with many of my teammates splitting up among the ranks. But there was still a sense of solidarity being members of the same tribe. However after some friends ‘fessed up to rooting for the opposing team, no matter how much I tried to get beyond it, I just literally couldn’t get the elephant out of the room. So depending on the company, I’ve learned to curb the political chit chat.


Maybe that’s simply the cultured thing to do. After all, isn’t there a social rule that politics and money should never be discussed among friends? But in an election year with the markets crashing, if you take those two topics off the table what’s left – the weather?


Perhaps it’s a girl thing, but it does seem that being aggressively or even overtly political seems impolite. It makes people uncomfortable – particularly girlfriends who disagree.


I’m always intrigued about how those ladies on The View do it. While I may disagree with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on her conservative politics, I’m always impressed by how she tries to hold her own while getting bullied by the rest of the girls at the ABC coffee klutch. And while I also appreciate the heated discussions that get Elisabeth so riled that the veins in her neck look like they are going to burst all over Joy Behar, I’m truly fascinated by how those women can transition from total cat fight (I say this with complete respect) to cheerful conversation right after a commercial break. Do they all hug, take ten breaths, and drink some Chardonnay in the Green Room after each show? I get tense just by watching them.


Fortunately for me I can be less guarded at work about my politics. I still have some Hillary bumper stickers posted on my bulletin board next to my favorite bumper slogan “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History” which hangs across from a very staged and unattractive photo of me and Hillary. So while politics and The Office generally don’t mix, my workplace appreciates political passion and experience and employs plenty of former politicos who are obsessed with the latest poll numbers and Tina Fey sketches. So ironically, I’m less concerned about offending colleagues or clients than I am my suburban neighbors and friends.



Politics in the suburbs is hard to suss out. Everyone looks the same but doesn't necessarily think the same. I had a brief but painfully awkward conversation with a fellow mom outside my daughter's school. We were both wearing our "I voted" stickers. The other woman hesitantly said, "I can't wait for tonight. I can't wait for change..." clearly unsure as to my political leanings. I outed myself as an Obama supporter and we were both much more comfortable. But the brief encounter left me saddened. The woman (as well as myself) was so excited about the election, yet so scared to offend as well. I wish polite society did not dictate that we be so restrained with our opinions -- particularly on such a momentous occasion.


This was one year where I wasn't going to shy away from political conversations because of the importance of this election on so many levels. I found that with certain guidelines (like no nasty, comical or unsubstantiated forwarded e-mails), I could have conversations with my un-like-minded or undecided friends and in doing so, I was able to understand and sometimes address their concerns. I think I even pursuaded a couple to my point of view (they were not as lucky ;-). In an era where we cannot count on whole of the news media for "unbiased" reporting, I think talking with those whom we respect, if not agree, is critical to making informed decisions. Above all, I think as a result, those friendships are now stronger.


Politics and religion are the biggies to avoid in polite society, for sure...money makes sense, too.

It's amazing how politics has become another one of those areas where it is impossible not to have an impassioned debate.