Love conquers all! That is one of the many lessons I learned as I was growing up. In American culture, we watch fairy tales that tell us that true love does not falter no matter how ugly things get. That may be true for the pretty girl who overlooks the appearance of her prince, but we do not live in a fairy tale. We live in a complex world where values and actions matter in the grand scheme of things, making us realize that love does not, in fact, trump all. Today, the clash between love and politics is palpable and brings to question whether we can maintain relationships when we support different political parties.
The question of whether conflicting political views should matter in relationships stood out to me during and after the 2016 presidential elections. As Trump’s presidency progressed, this question continued to burn in the back of my mind. It was not an easy question to answer because I had friends with different political views than me. Today I can say with confidence that differing political views do matter in relationships and that people have a right to end said relationships.
I often hear people argue that ending relationships because of differing political views only perpetuates a greater divide in this nation. If you ask me, I say that the problem lies in the simplification of a political party into just a label. Their stance only demonstrates how out of touch they are with reality. The reason we support a political party is not because we want to put on a pretty blue or red sticker on our shirt after we are done voting. Aligning yourself with a political party is not equivalent to choosing which ice cream flavor is your favorite either.
Each political party is associated with certain values and beliefs. It is clear, when you look at the statistics, that the voter decides which party to affiliate with depending on the values and morals they hold. The gender and race gap and the generational and religious divide on who votes Democrat or Republican support the claim that similar groups of people support similar political parties. Conservatives are often Christian, and advocate for respecting American traditions and economic liberalism. Democrats are known for advocating for secularism, women’s reproductive rights, LBTQ+ rights, and government regulation in the economy. It is no surprise then that these parties and their supporters’ beliefs often clash with each other.
People are privileged when they can say that political views should not make or break relationships. Politics affect and change every aspect of our lives. Politics touch on issues that may seem minor like whether we should repair a street, or more urgent issues like who gets to have rights. It affects who has access to health care, if discrimination is allowed and who can vote. These are not issues that you only worry about during elections and then forget about. The candidates we vote for have people’s lives in their hands and therefore you do too. People face violence when individuals vote for candidates that do not fight against discriminatory laws. Their voices are taken away from them when they are restricted from voting. They can die when they do not have access to health care or when they have to face the death penalty. When someone says that they do not believe politics should affect relationships they only prove that they do not have an understanding of how life-changing politics can be for people’s lives. Many people do not have the privilege of being able to dismiss and ignore issues — because those issues have a direct impact on them and those they care about.
In “Beauty and The Beast,” Belle and the prince defeated a curse and an antagonist to reach their happily ever after. Characters in the fairy tale overlooked many issues that the Beast had in order to reach that happy ending, though. The Beast held Belle hostage and mistreated the house servants for years. The real world is not as safe and forgiving as the fairy tales we read and watched when we were children. The political views you have and the political party you support have an impact on other people as well, whether it’s good or bad. By trying to guilt trip people and accusing them of creating a bigger divide among people in this country, you are only demonstrating your inability to understand that politics are not just a label.