What Does It Mean To Be A “Friend” In 2019?

“People talk about politics as if it’s this isolated, abstract concept that only matters at election time. Somebody’s politics is their world view. It’s whether they think certain human beings deserve rights. It’s how they think the world should be. And if somebody thinks that the world should be colder, meaner, less accepting and downright hostile to people that are different to them, then sure as f*ck is the friendship over.”

litanyofexcuses, 2016

I saw this on Twitter the other day and, though harsh, was struck by it’s accuracy for how I’m feeling at this point in our national nightmare AND with potus at an 88% approval rating (Gallup) from fellow republicans.
Let me explain why.

I’ve been told by some of my conservative friends that my political views are extreme, and maybe even a bit confrontational. I’ve also been told that I don’t sound willing to compromise in a way that might lead to a civil conversation with ANY republican, friend or foe.

My views aren’t particularly extreme. They are, however, a reflection of my desire to live a full life with my civil rights intact; as both a Black man and a Gay man. I’m also a 55 year-old man for whom healthcare coverage is a must, not a convenience. And ever since the ACA was passed into law, I’ve watched republicans gleefully applaud efforts to strip away my healthcare. So you’ll have to excuse me if my fight for survival gets in the way of a ‘civil’ conversation.

But I digress. This essay is about the above quote. In particular, it’s about the final line about friendships. Would I let my political views affect, or end, friendships?

Before President Obama, I probably would have said, “No.” Everything changed dramatically, however, as the election of our first African-American president gave rise to some of the most overt racism we’d seen in years. Some on my timeline vigorously minimized examples of racism towards Obama with their own examples of “reverse racism”. The “Both Sides” argument. My patience grew thin with a few of them, and friendships were indeed terminated.

Fast forward to 2019… My ‘extreme’ views, if they are such, are borne out of survival. republicans have become a party for legislative bigotry and cruelty. They are the party who want Black men to be silent and not question them on why they support our deaths at the hands of law enforcement. They are the party who want the LGBTQ community to suck it up when fired or denied goods/services because we make someone uncomfortable due to their religious views.

And as mentioned above, they are the party that gleefully tried to strip healthcare from myself and millions of other people like me, with nothing in its’ place.

So if those republican politics are your politics, I am in agreement with the author that they likely reflect your world view. If they don’t yet you still support politicians who take these actions, then you are complicit and just as culpable.

(NOTE: I haven’t even scratched the surface of the other political atrocities of the day like family separations, camps for separated immigrant children, white nationalists working at the highest levels of the government, and an inability to pass common sense gun legislation just to name a few.)

More importantly, if my demise is your world view, then our ‘friendship’ never really existed, or maybe only on a cursory level. Maybe. To be clear, I would never applaud or defend the loss of civil rights and liberty for anyone I refer to as “my friend”. I’d be mad, and would do something – anything – to help right the wrong. I wouldn’t turn to them and say, “Your views are extreme, and maybe you should tone it down a bit” as they fight for survival and a place at the table.

My hope is that people who consider themselves ‘my friend’ will look inside themselves, and ask the tough questions that need to be asked before we get to an irreversible reckoning. I’m not asking anyone to not be a republican. By all means, feel free to be a conservative if you can do so in today’s environment while also supporting the friends in your life.

If you are unable, or unwilling to ask those questions and come out the other side, then we’ll have our answer as to whether or not “sure as f*ck is the friendship over”. The choice is yours. Not mine.

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