Can you spot the Democrats and Republicans in this photo? I can make an informed guess, because they're my family ... but I also don't give a rat's eyelash, because they're my family!
It's been nearly a week since President Obama was re-elected -- leaving a "shellshocked" Mitt Romney trying to explain his billion dollar failure to wealthy donors. The election also left many conservative Republicans genuinely shellshocked. Some have decided to crawl even further into the protective bubble that allowed them to believe they were cruising to victory last Tuesday, cutting off all contact with Democrats, even friends. Even family.
Former Ron Paul aide Eric Dondero wrote this last Wednesday:
Starting early this morning, I am going to un-friend every single individual on Facebook who voted for Obama, or I even suspect may have Democrat leanings. I will do the same in person. All family and friends, even close family and friends, who I know to be Democrats are hereby dead to me. I vow never to speak to them again for the rest of my life, or have any communications with them. They are in short, the enemies of liberty. They deserve nothing less than hatred and utter contempt.
I strongly urge all other libertarians to do the same. Are you married to someone who voted for Obama, have a girlfriend who voted 'O'. Divorce them. Break up with them without haste. Vow not to attend family functions, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas for example, if there will be any family members in attendance who are Democrats.
Do you work for someone who voted for Obama? Quit your job. Co-workers who voted for Obama. Simply don't talk to them in the workplace, unless your boss instructs you too for work-related only purposes. Have clients who voted Democrat? Call them up this morning and tell them to take their business elsewhere.
If I meet a Democrat in my life from here on out, I will shun them immediately. I will spit on the ground in front of them, being careful not to spit in their general direction so that they can't charge me with some stupid little nuisance law. Then I'll tell them in no un-certain terms: "I do not associate with Democrats. You all are communist pigs, and I have nothing but utter disgust for you. Sir/Madam, you are scum of the earth." Then I'll turn and walk the other way.
Dondero's post-election rant has been widely publicized, but I suspect he gave voice to something that's been going on under the radar for quite a while.
Here in Alabama, in Madison County, I know a woman whose daughter cut her off -- before the election -- because she was voting for Democrats. The mother is a lifelong Democrat, the daughter married a strong Republican and the relationship got chillier and chillier as the election approached. Finally, the daughter informed her mom that I don't want anything to do with you if you're voting for Obama. And called her mom some hurtful names in the bargain. She's stuck with it, too. She won't talk to her mom, won't answer her phone calls, won't answer the door if she comes over. Mom still babysits the grandkids, but the daughter and son-in-law won't call to ask her to keep them, they get one of the kids to pick up the phone and ask if they can stay at grandma's house.
Ridiculous, yeah, but it's not an isolated case.
Before the election, This American Life did an extremely disturbing show on the political divide that is splitting friendships and even family relationships. They talked to a couple of guys who have been friends for decades, until one of them admitted he voted for Obama, and a pair of sisters who -- since Obama was elected -- can't talk to each other without yelling. And then there was this creative attempt by Ryan to blackmail his brother-in-law, Drew, into supporting the right political candidate:
Drew: If you vote for Obama, you're cut off. You can still come over to our house and eat, but when I cook ribs, you can bring your own chicken breast and use the grill after I'm done. And at first I thought he was just kidding around, but he's made it clear that he's absolutely serious. And I appealed to his wife, and she said, well, I got to stand with my husband.
...Ryan: I know he loves my barbecue so much. And I was thinking one day. You know, I've tried to explain to Drew why he shouldn't vote Democratic, but I can't get through to him. So now I'm going to do a little negative reinforcement. And if he votes for him, I'm just not going to let him eat here. And my wife makes salad or garlic bread or beans-- he can have that. He just cannot eat my meat-- my tri-tip, my ribs, my pulled pork, my brisket, I make a wonderful prime rib sandwich-- he can't have any of that.
I know losing hurts -- both sides have suffered bitter losses in the last decade -- and coming right after the election, holiday gatherings and feasts can sometimes be awkward. But cutting off your family for political ideology is as stupid as cutting off your nose to spite your face. Cutting off your friends is almost that stupid. These are people who genuinely care about you, in a way that politicians and political pundits/operatives never will.
Next week, if you're lucky enough to be able to gather with your family, enjoy them as much as possible and take the opportunity to reaffirm the things you have in common. Don't fret and fume and lecture and try to change the people you love. They're the same people they've always been. It's the bond of love and friendship that matters, not how they voted.
Cults demand their adherents break with friends and family; political parties shouldn't.