Sunday, October 03, 2004

Funny Thing About Politics...

I have a friend with whom I share many interests.
We both enjoy many of the same types of music, films and foods and both have similar takes on what the truly important things in life are.
We also share a very similar set of personal morals and ethics.

For several years I always looked forward to our frequent gettogethers for some good natured conversation and companionship.

Now my buddy is a staunch Republican whereas I am a bit more of a moderate so we do have some differing views on political topics.

Not radically different mind you but still different.

Whereas he generally defines his opinions (or perhaps his
positions would be more accurate) along party lines I do not.

While we may both want the same things for our country such as a good educational system, help for those who truly need it, a strong military etc we differ on some of the specifics of just how to accomplish these things.

Neither of us claim to be experts so we typically base our positions on what other people who are supposedly experts have to say through newspaper articles, editorials and so on.

We read those articles or listen to politicians and those who comment on social and political issues and then form our own opinions taking into consideration what seems to make the most sense to us.

Now while he and I used to get together for coffee or lunch several times a week we now see one another on very rare occasions and even then it's usually because we only happen to be at the same party or just bump into one another in some public place or social setting.

At first we went from having coffee or lunch three or four times a week to two then once a week and then once every few weeks until...well, now it's been months.

And do you want to know what came between the two of us?
Why two guys who were once close friends have practically become strangers?

I'll tell you what came between us;

George W. Bush

No, I did not err when I said what came between us rather than who came between us as it wasn't really George Bush himself that came between us.

It was our differing views on President Bush and some of his positions that came between us.

It seemed that everytime I said anything remotely critical about the President or expressed a view which was not identical to the Republican party's official position my good friend would fly into an outrage.
He would immediately begin raising his voice and lunging into a long diatribe which seemed to be designed to somehow put me in my place.

I soon found that what used to be pleasant conversation was now uncomfortable and tense as I tried to keep the conversation going in an effort to steer clear of any topic which could lead to a discussion of politics.

Even as I was on my way to meet my pal at our favorite hangout I would be going over the various topics I could bring up in order to avoid the touchy subject of politics;

Movies I had seen or wanted to see, problems with my car, the weather...Anything that would avoid those uncomfortable political arguments (not that they were truly arguments as most of them consisted of a few words from me which only served as a preface to an anger filled soliloquy which I would simply be an audience to).

On a couple of occasions I tried to mention to my friend that we should be able to express our views in a calm and friendly manner without getting all worked up and that if politics was such a touchy subject maybe we should avoid it altogether but this only seemed to make things worse.

So, as I mentioned earlier, our once friendly get togethers grew farther and farther apart as well as less and less friendly until they stopped altogether.

That's the funny thing about politics;

They seem to come between people who are not politicians, are not involved in politics and whose only involvement in government is to cast a vote every few years.

I will often hear people say conservative or liberal in tones that sound as though they are saying nigger or gook through their clenched teeth.

When did people begin making their political views so very personal?
At what point in time did we decide as a people that while religious and racial intolerance were wrong and unacceptable hatred and intolerance based on party affiliation was the mode o' day?

I have coffee and lunch by myself these days.
Sometimes I look up from my book or newspaper at the empty chair on the other side of the table and feel just a little lonely and then return to my reading.

I don't miss the arguing or the uncomfortable silences but there is one thing I do miss.

I miss my friend.

I wonder if he's having lunch with George W. Bush these days?