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I'm a bit worn out with a weekend full of friends. On Friday, I had one over and we did a double-feature of "Black Widow" and "The New Mutants". Today, I had a couple of college classmates over (one who brought their family) and a "brunch" lasted until 5pm. I have a retired work friend I need to schedule to have a French meal with since I haven't seen him since before the pandemic.

I think that the issue with friendships is that compared with chatting over social media (which I also did to wish another friend a happy birthday this morning and complain about the hosting of Branson's journey into space*), maintaining "meatspace" friendships takes a good bit more work and planning than posting comments on social media. There's coordination, planning, and the like, and I think that a lot of people have lost a feel for how to do that.

One place where that's been an exception lately has been my local townhouse community. Owing to the fact that our complex is a popular place for "starter homes", we get a number of younger couples (gay and straight alike) who use our community as a place to jumpstart a family, and then move on when they need more space (typically a year after child #2), and we begin the cycle again. COVID pushed a number of young families in our complex together, and that spawned its own collection of adult friendships, male and female alike. Now that COVID is lifting, we're working to maintain that community we built up during the pandemic.

I'm just posting this "anecdata" to give you a couple more data points that are independent of the idea that politics is killing friendships. I think that politics gives people an excuse to not put in the effort to maintain those relationships, but is more of an enabling factor than a root cause.

For what it's worth, I can count two relationships that went silent because of politics - a high school classmate and an uncle. Incidentally, both were pretty #MAGA, and despite me reaching out, I haven't heard from them in quite some time. However, my uncle's son is probably more #MAGA than his father, and we get along swimmingly despite our differences on the Orange One, probably because despite the intensity of our respective affinity and disgust around Trump, we found ways to talk about other things (boats and Chicago-style pizza) and to turn our political disagreements into good old-fashioned humorous ball-busting. I have more fun talking politics with him than I do any of my fellow travelers who agree with me. It's much more humorous and leaves both of us chuckling by the end.

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Jul 12, 2021Liked by Steve Berman, Chris J. Karr

I just finished reading David French's column regarding the loss of friendships, when I came across yours. I concur. Genuine friendships not based on a political litmus test, can serve as a moderating, morally elevating influence on us. Like many of you, I've lost friends on the right because of my decision not to vote for Trump. The same happened when I lost some of my liberal Democrat friends because my lack of support for Trump didn't translate to supporting progressive policies out of spite for the 45th President. It made me wonder if those friendships were deep enough to be genuine in the first place. Or maybe that they were genuine friendships, but partisanship and polarization hollowed out these friendships to where they could be cancelled for political differences. IMHO, the worst type of cancel culture that exists are when friendships and even family relationships can be destroyed over politics.

With the loss of real friendships, and with people turning online and trying to fill that void by associating with those who are more intransigent and polarized. We now have a lot of conspiracy theories masquerading around large swathes of the electorate. Bad faith assumptions about the other side tend to dominate discussions on social media. As a result, we tend to view the political opposition through the worst lens possible. Those on the right will point to "the Squad" and view every Democrat/liberal leaning voter through the nutty things the Squad does. And the left does that by associating Trump skeptics and even Trump voters who voted for him reluctantly(as opposed to hard core MAGA people) with the nutty right populists such as MTG, Lin Wood, Mike Flynn, Boebert, among others. I think having healthy friendships with those who differ politically helps temper the tendencies to apply bad faith motives to political disagreements. Good faith disagreements become a reality as a result.

One thing that I like about you and David Thornton, is despite your disagreements at times(mostly on proper approach in the Trump era, and generally not ideology), is that you both do it respectfully and remain friends. My own views on Trump as a Trump skeptic conservative tends to include and value a good mix of yours and David's perspectives. I didn't support Trump in 2016 and 2020, but one thing I wasn't going to do, is discontinue friendships with those of my friends who voted for Trump, Biden, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else. On a positive note, I've found that on an anecdotal basis, a good majority of everyday people I associate with frequently(due to work, social connections, etc) are very reasonable and tolerant. A few friendships of mine went by the wayside these past 5 or so years, but most of them thankfully remained intact. I think that assessing a person through the totality of who they are, and not merely their political views can go a long way in establishing and maintaining healthy friendships.

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Jul 12, 2021Liked by Steve Berman, Chris J. Karr

Since I've always been a loner, I haven't lost any personal friends. However, I have lost quite a few online "friends" because I never embraced Trump or his "stolen election" narrative, and I never rejected Ted Cruz (even though he threw his own base under the bus in order to pander to the MAGA crowd). I see them as two individuals, not as a package deal.

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Jul 11, 2021Liked by Steve Berman, Chris J. Karr

You're lucky that most of the friends from your youth are not gone. Mine are, including my two younger brothers.

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I'm so sorry to hear that. I have lost an older brother, and his oldest son (my nephew) is now alone, having lost both his parents and his younger brother. He's barely past 40. About 5 years ago, I went to Disney World with him, his girlfriend, and our combined kids. He lives pretty far away so that was a big deal. Some people are natural hermits and enjoy the solitude, but most don't do well alone.

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I feel for you.

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One thing I wonder: do some GOP voters with Democrat friends not bring up/discuss politics with those friends, and thus the Democrat responders to the question are ignorant of their friends' political leanings?

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I think the intolerance level of froends toward friends depends on the dominant party in power and the party that holds the WH. It seems this author is more keenly aware of the fractious nature of politics because of DJT. I was Uber conservative during the Clinton years and there was definitely loss of friendships and family relationships during that time. Then the election of 2000 and the resulting rancor. I left the Republican party in 2012, so I have experienced loss of relationships on both sides over the years.

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It's ok to be independent. What caused you to leave the party? Are you an Obama fan or just averse to confrontation?

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