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Happy Thanksgiving?, Part II

Yesterday, we had six reader answers to the question ""How much damage to relationships do you or readers think has occurred from the widening divisions in political views exacerbated by the party of T-Rump?" Here are six more:

  1. R.P. in Northfield, IL: My entire extended family, in Michigan—sister, cousins, and all of their offspring—are all fundamentalist Christians and, of course, hard core Trumpers. They even believe God put him in office. They fervently believe the big lie about the stolen election. They are Fox-only watchers and followers of evangelical celebrities like Franklin Graham and James Dobson. Three years ago, I finally told my sister what I think about people who claim to be Christian but who are devout followers of a guy like Trump. She will no longer speak to me or even answer e-mails or open Christmas and birthday cards I send. She has told me "you are no longer my brother." The cousins haven't declared I'm dead to them...yet. But when I have communicated with them over the last few years, I can tell they are just about at that point. So there you go. I now live in Illinois, and it's just as well that I do. Fortunately, my brother and my entire immediate family are in the sane camp.

  2. B.S. in Huntington Beach, CA: My brother and I were born one year apart, he being the older. Our views on almost everything could not be more different, especially on matters political. He tends toward the racist end of the spectrum. I believe in the importance and value of diversity. He believes Elon Musk is the second coming. I believe Musk is a genius scam artist. He believes bitcoin is a thing. I believe it is the latest Ponzi scheme. I could go on and on with how differently we see the world.

    I have come to understand that much of the distance between our views is an outgrowth of continuing sibling (familial) rivalry. Factor in our different lived experiences, our different paths upon leaving home, our different personalities, our different levels of education, our birth order, etc., etc., and the expectation of significant agreement on almost any topic is simply a pipe dream.

    Yet I love my brother dearly and will always be there for him in his need. He feels the same way about me. So we limit our time together, we choose mostly to avoid topics with no hope of agreement when we are together, and we find ways to remain respectfully connected to each other.

    There is one issue in particular upon which we are irrevocably estranged. As a UCLA grad, my blood runs Bruin Blue. He has been deluded into believing the second-rate institution across town is the pinnacle of higher education and intercollegiate athletics. Yet I love him nonetheless.

  3. O.Z.H. in Dubai, UAE: I have a relative who has claimed she supports Trump, but always sort of pretends it's a joke rather actually coming out in full force in support of MAGA. But we all know that she indeed is a MAGA supporter. The rest of my family is pretty disengaged from politics and most don't live in the U.S. and so they don't understand why I think this is a big deal. Whenever I bring it up with one of them, they say "Oh, but that doesn't mean she's a bad person." I don't think she is a bad person either. But I think that she is either an idiot or simply doesn't understand what it is she is supporting. This certainly makes me think less of her as a person and it has 100% strained our relationship to the point where there is this elephant in the room whenever we speak or meet. We are definitely no longer as close as we were pre-2016 and that is an absolute shame—but an outcome that I think was unavoidable.

  4. L.B. in Friendswood, TX: Although I have a lot of MAGA in-laws, we were still able to get together and just not talk politics. However, when COVID hit, and they refused to get vaccinated because of politics, then we could no longer get together due to safety, regardless of any topics discussed or not discussed. So these relationships are probably over.

  5. R.B. in Seattle, WA: It goes even beyond families, to (formerly) close friends. My wife of 39 years and I would never have met had we not been introduced by "Linda," one of my wife's two best friends, and a great, fiercely loyal friend at that. Linda is a phenomenally intelligent person, a brilliant scientific researcher who therefore spends her professional life in the skeptical assessment of evidence. Back when we were all students, Linda was pretty apolitical. Some years later, Linda married a guy who was pretty conservative for that era, during the Bush I administration. The last time we talked to Linda, she eagerly told us she had voted for Trump in 2020. As justification she said that Kamala Harris is a terrible person who was doing some unspecified, nefarious deeds and must be stopped. Now my wife is basically afraid to even call one of the closest friends she ever had, for fear that even the last shreds of their friendship could be torched in a few minutes' ranting.

  6. B.A.R. in South Bend, IN: I somehow missed the original question about this but in reading through the comments, I feel seen, as the kids say.

    Most of my family and friends are similar to me in our political views, but I have a few close family members who voted for TFG and a whole bunch of not-so-close cousins who did the same. I have had people hang up on me; I have been defriended and blocked on social media. When a very close relative insisted that Alex Jones never said that Sandy Hook was a hoax, I sent them videos of him saying exactly that and asked them to consider the situation if one of their grandkids was killed in a school shooting and then some guy started saying that their death was fake and was a hoax... how would that make them feel? The result was an e-mail to "friends and family" (just me and one other close relative) saying that it was probably best that we not discuss politics any longer.

    While I still remain in contact with the close relatives (because I DO love them and our familial bond is strong), I find that the biggest impact has been on how I feel about them: I no longer respect them. I cannot respect hypocrisy and denial of objective reality. This has hurt me in ways that I never realized was possible. We all want to look up to certain people and when the ability to do that was stripped away, it felt like a little part of my childhood died.

    One thing I will never stop doing is speaking up if someone says something offensive or untrue. They certainly have no problem with voicing their opinions, so I have no qualms about voicing mine. I still have my voice and I will never hesitate to use it.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in. We'll have a few more comments in Sunday's mailbag. (Z)

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