I lost some friends tonight. They didn’t die, but I think I’m as good as dead to them.
This was a married couple I knew. I met the husband at a police training course I attended over 30 years ago. He was an instructor at the conference, and I was one of several hundred cops in attendance. But we both had a habit of snacking before we went to bed, and we kept meeting in the hotel coffee shop late in the evening, and got to know one another. A month after I returned home, I was involved in a critical incident where I could have easily died. Some of the things I learned at that course helped me get through it unharmed, and I wrote to my new friend and told him as much. We stayed in touch after that. Although I would see him only once or twice a year when our paths would cross at other police conferences, I thought of him—and after he married, his wife—as friends.
This couple is well-known in the police community, nationally and even internationally. These days, most of my contact with them is through Facebook, and it’s through Facebook we have had our falling out. My friend put up a post tonight to the effect that the election of any Democratic candidate would be a disaster for the United States, and that anyone who felt different would be shunned by him. His wife made a similar post a short time afterward.
I replied that I wasn’t thrilled with any of the Democratic candidates, but that the Republican candidates frightened me more. His reply as, in essence, “Goodbye.” His other Facebook friends, who tend to be of a similar conservative political persuasion, joined him in gleefully kicking me to the curb.
I’ll survive not counting this couple among my friends, but it occurred to me at the same time that I have never known political differences to be as divisive as they are now. I have always been a political moderate. I’ve voted both sides of the ticket, and seldom along party lines.
- I’m pro-choice, but believe we should not tolerate or grant amnesty to illegal immigration.
- I’m for expanded background checks, and I think people should have to demonstrate competency with a gun before they can have one. But qualified people should still be able to own and carry guns, if they like.
- I think English should be our official language, but that public education also include instruction in a foreign language.
- Public education ought to be free of religious influence. If you insist your child have a religious education, do it yourself, get it in church, or send them to parochial school.
- Although I have problems with some of the things he did and the positions he has taken, I believe Barack Obama has been a good president. My biggest problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it didn’t go far enough.
Providing that others base their arguments on facts, rather than memes and stories from Fox News, I’m always open to a different point of view. I don’t believe that liberals have the exclusive market on good ideas, or that conservatives are all of inferior intelligence and morality.
Most of my conservative friends do not share my tolerance. They take the position that anyone who does not accept the full conservative agenda is a “libtard,” to use their term of art. Further, any position advanced by a non-conservative must also be faulty, presumably because conservatives are the only people imbued with good judgment. You can guess how the conservatives feel about global warming, no matter how much science might be behind it. If Al Gore believes it, it must be wrong.
A friend of mine describes this behavior as “political purity.” The conservative must be completely conservative, and not allow any of the poison that is liberal ideology contaminate their thinking. There can be no middle ground. Allowing even the hint of broad-minded thought is the nose of the camel, intruding into the tent’s interior. It will open the floodgates of hippie thought and permanently corrupt one’s mind.
Those same conservatives label President Obama as the most divisive chief executive in our history. I believe they ignore their own divisiveness, stemming from the outright rejection of any idea their role models didn’t endorse. I mostly discounted this trend as one of those that comes and goes with the years. I never thought it could destroy a 30-year friendship.