Presidential Elections Break Up Friendships


Aug 30, 2016 | Hannah Dobie

Picture this: three seniors who have been best friends since freshman year, sitting in the TV room, drinking wine. We start talking about the 49ers quarter back, Colin Kaepernick, who did not stand up during the national anthem in order to bring attention to oppression of black lives in this country. This leads to other discussions and topics that surround gender, race, ethnicity, and then we start talking about…. Trump V. Clinton.

I have never been at Wake during a presidential election, and one thing is for sure, people are not avoiding the topic. At first, I looked at this as a move in the right direction. My friends are being open and having productive dialogue about their differences in opinion. But as I have witnessed more conversations, I am beginning to discover that these discussions are bringing out the worst in friendships. This election is not only many college students first election but it is also different because people have incredibly strong feelings about the other candidate and not particularly about the candidate that they are voting for. People are always shocked when they discovered that their friends is supporting Trump, and vice versa.

Hanging out in the living room and BAM, Trump or Clinton? We start going at it. There’s no holding us back. I cannot believe my freshman year friend is voting from Trump (and all the ignorance and hatred that brings with it) but my friend cannot believe I’m voting for Clinton (who has started to be shaped as this lying crazy woman). After forty five minutes of arguing, we walked away, angry and upset; shocked that we were such good friends with “one of those.”

I hear Democrats or Non-Trump supporters say, “when someone says they are voting for Trump, it completely changes my opinion of them.” I can totally see where you are coming from? What does this mean for partisanship? What does this mean for working across the aisle? We are further dividing ourselves, furthering the chances that various governing bodies will get nothing done. One of the reasons that I joined Wake the Vote was because I see how partisanship causes this country to not get anything done, ever. I want to educate myself and others on the importance of working together and coming to agreements across the aisle. Wake Forest is the perfect place to work on this and practice. My (lofty) goal this semester is to engage in as many conversations with those who disagree with my political views and look back it and say, “that was productive.”