As strange as it sounds and as frightening as this storm is, the Hurricane Matthew coverage has actually been refreshing compared to the constant barrage of Donald Trump v. Hillary Clinton.
It’s nice to see Americans worried about each other for a change instead of just hating each other.
A new Monmouth University poll reports that 7 percent of Americans — 1 in 14 — say they have lost a friend over the presidential election.
“Fully 70% of American voters say that this year’s presidential campaign has brought out the worst in people,” the study notes. “Only 4% say it has brought out the best in people. Another 5% say it has done a little of both and 20% say it has done neither.”
“Democrats (78%), Republicans (65%), and independents (66%) agree that the 2016 campaign has brought out the worst in people,” Monmouth notes.
Getting angry with people you care about over politics — or worse, not speaking to them and ending important relationships — is exactly backward in terms of what our priorities should be.
Why do we care about politics to begin with? Presumably because we have strong opinions on what type of policies or governance would be best for our friends, family and neighbors — you know, the people we care about most. Liberals and progressives have long believed that a robust state can provide the best solutions, and conservatives and libertarians have always favored a smaller and limited government, where private and voluntary actions create the healthiest social environment.
We disagree. But the larger point is, we all presumably want a system that will work best for all of us.
There are millions of people who believe Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would be best for the country as president. There are millions of others who fear both of them (I’m in that camp, supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson).
I have friends and relatives favorable to Trump and Clinton. Worse, I have friends and family who think it is morally irresponsible for anyone to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Some of them get angry about it and are eager to let you hear it. I’ve made it perfectly clear to anyone I actually know with this attitude that I ain’t hearing that noise — that we can talk about politics, but as peers, not from atop moral high horses — and they’ve respected that.
Why? Because that’s what family and friends do. Basic decency.
Some are so fanatically hotheaded that they overstep boundaries. You can’t control them. But if they don’t respect you enough to treat you with basic dignity and manners, it is worth examining who these people actually are and how they fit into your life.
Friends and loved ones don’t, or shouldn’t behave that way, or at least not for long. For those who do — they have the problem, not you. They need help, not you.
This cordial outlook doesn’t necessarily apply to some random Facebook or Twitter commenter you don’t really know. In doesn’t mean you shouldn’t yell at the idiot talking heads on television. It doesn’t mean you can’t cuss Clinton or Trump (or Johnson) under your breath for a variety of reasons. This column isn’t a wag of the finger to simply “be nice.” I work in political journalism, where it’s our job not to be nice.
But it does means that in five weeks, all of this will be over, there will be a new political reality for at least four years, and your wife, husband, daughter, son, sister, brother, neighbor or best friend will still be there, hopefully. Whatever any of these people think about politics should mean infinitesimally less to you than what they’ve meant in your life. They are the very reason you should even care about politics in the first place.
They are certainly more important than who the next president is.