Jim Coffman, 40, a Democrat in Chicago, said he and his wife have not pursued a friendship with another couple whose three children are the same ages as theirs after seeing photographs of President Bush on the other couple’s refrigerator. He said they have discussed with other friends “being so amazed that we could have so much in common, and yet be so diametrically opposed” when it comes to politics.
Ann Althouse then comments:
I think the greatest danger is that the people who are passionate about politics make a lot of other people not want to talk or even think about politics at all. Saying anything might make people not like you. That's enough to make most people avoid the subject... or to play the chameleon and seem to have whatever political opinions the other people have. Maybe you don't even know what you really think.
I think deciding who you will be friends with or social to based on their political views is a pretty narrow-minded and bitter way to go through life. Happily, I have rarely encountered the types of individuals that Althouse is talking about and that are profiled in the Times article, but then again I don't exactly go out of my way to display my political views to the world. That's not to say I don't talk, and sometimes even argue, about politics with colleagues and friends, but whenever we do we keep it pretty civil. An often overlooked freedom we enjoy is the freedom to disagree, the freedom to form one's own opinion. Often my colleagues/friends and I will simply agree to disagree - we simply accept that the other person has their own opinions on the matter and aren't planning on changing them anytime soon, so just accept it and move on.
To give you an example my colleague at work and I have a pretty friendly relationship: we'll hook up for lunch sometimes, share similar movie tastes, and regularly stop by each other's cubicle to chit-chat about what's going on in each other's lives. We share photos of family and pets with each other and have generally gotten to know each other pretty well.
However, politically, we couldn't be more different. She once commented that Idaho could be a nice place to live if it wasn't so "religious". She thinks the world would be a better place if incomes were more equal and that the government should play a prominent role in equalizing those incomes. While she refrains from the Bush=Hitler/greatest-threat-to-world-peace theme so prevalent on the far-left, she thinks he's an idiot and still can't believe he became President - twice. And don't even start about Iraq or the war on terror. She's your basic, typical, California Bay Area Democrat. Now while I'm not a Republican (I'm a moderate/independent with some strong views on the war on terror - probably could be classified as a "Freeranger" based on Pajamas Media definition) most of my views venture pretty far to the right of hers, although I am not too fond of Bush myself (but I don't think he is an "idiot"). Yet we both get along just fine, content with our own political views and happy to find that we have some common interests outside of politics.
My next door neighbor is pretty much the same, in fact one time I saw him wearing the obligatory Che Guevera t-shirt , yet we get along just fine. We talk about the neighborhood and the city, chat about yard and garden maintenance and generally just get along great. Another acquaintance and I have argued somewhat strongly about politics from time to time, but at the end of the day we put it aside to talk about baseball, which is what brought us together in the first place.
Perhaps I just don't know enough "passionate" political people, or perhaps the really passionate types just avoid talking politics around me, I don't know.