Politics and Friendship

It is a truism that the easiest way to lose precious and longtime friends is to discuss politics with them, especially if you have even a mildly opposing viewpoint. Forget discussion, all they need to see is a post or a tweet that doesn’t align with their views and you are done for, you are persona non grata from that day.

Political ideology seems to top everything these days and can destroy years and years of friendship and goodwill. Was it always like this? Maybe it was, but I don’t remember political discussions being so fanatic, feverish and all-consuming. But then, I was never remotely interested in politics till I came to the US a couple of decades back. I always found the Indian political scene to be very complex and difficult to understand, because there are a lot of regional parties and thousands and thousands of politicians with a thousand different angles and agendas, many of them followed like cult gods. American politics is simpler and much more issue based, though every bit as corrupt and vile. Politicians are the same everywhere, except that in America they come in a tie and suit.

Coming back to friendships, if you disagree politically with a friend, the friendship is doomed. But if you don’t talk about it openly, your friendship is either not deep enough and remains untested. Even FB friendships are not immune, it seems.

I was never, I am not and will probably never be for or against any political party or ideology. I detest all politicians equally and happily. I thoroughly enjoy insulting and mocking them and have the words to do so. Unfortunately, these days reading more than one sentence a day makes people huff and puff, as if they were on a treadmill. I wish I had cartooning skills. A picture does say more and suits the shortened attention spans of today.

Somehow, people are not able to rise above their political ideology, even when it comes to their closest friends. Surprisingly, you can have a friend from a different religion, and you won’t have a problem with it. But a friend with different political views? Hmmm.

Sometimes, I wonder why is it so difficult for any politician to tell his opponent, “Look, I know you are love this country like we all do and want the best for it. We just want to take different roads to it. Can we start from there”?  Why is that so difficult? I remember how Senator John Mccain vehemently defended Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign when a couple of his supporters accused Obama of being an Arab and hinted about terrorism. It was an amazing thing for a politician to do. But then, the Senator was a decent man and a good politician with honest convictions. Can we imagine Trump and Biden saying that to or about each other? Or leaders in India? Unfortunately, I think Senator Mccain was the last of a kind. Today’s politicians have no honest convictions. In fact, they don’t have a true ideology. Their only conviction is about the absoluteness of their own power. Which is why they are not able to rise to the stature of a John Mccain or do what he could.

Really, come to think of it, we are common citizens, not politicians and yet, we are not able to rise above our political ideology in our everyday lives. Politicians live, breathe, eat and drink their petty party power politics every second of their lives. Ideology is last, all they are really interested in is money and power and influence. With all this thrown in, how can we expect them to rise above it when we can’t?

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