To be or not to be…conservative/liberal

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

How do we remain friends with somebody who voted for the wrong person?
How do we talk with someone we know is a flaming liberal when we are a far-right conservative? Many of us have given it up over the past two or three years, figuring we aren’t going to get anywhere. And the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t come naturally.

But it can.

If we’re interested in goodwill rather than being right, there are ways that work as often as not:
Refuse to touch the sensitive subjects, whatever they are – guns, abortion, walls, wallpaper (that eternal decorating question – why would she put that wallpaper in the bathroom?).
Ask a person (in a good way), “I’d like to look into your ideas; where do you get your info?” It will not kill you – honest — to watch Fox News if you are a liberal or MSNBC if you are a conservative.
Or give your recalcitrant friend a story – “You know, my very good friend Herkimer is the most (liberal/conservative) fella I know, and we listen to each other, give our opinion and move on to other topics. Our latest was a discussion about Nancy Pelosi’s facelifts that went like this — I say, “Pelosi must have the best face lifter in the business; I think she looks great.” My friend says, “Are you kidding? She can barely smile she’s sewed so tight!” I: “Must have something to do with my fading vision; I’m kind of like those Impressionists – I can see the tree, but I can’t distinguish the leaves.” End of argument.
Slip your backward-thinking friend (although, avoid addressing them as backward-thinking) a card with a definition:
conservative: preservation of what is established – tradition and social stability are important along with preferring gradual development to abrupt change; hesitant about change; a cautious, discreet person advocating the sensibility of caution and moderation

liberal: possessing or manifesting a free and generous heart; bountiful; a broad and enlightened mind; free from narrowness, bigotry or bondage to authority or creed; a person who advocates liberty of thought, speech or action

There are so many ways to be either liberal or conservative that most of us are both – conservative in money matters, liberal in hairstyle and dress; conservative when dancing, liberal when voting; conservative when speaking, liberal when writing; conservative about new foods, liberal about new shoes.

The vast ways we can be both liberal and conservative is a topic to bring up with your friends of opposite thinking, behavior, wardrobe, disposition, culinary choices. Make it a game; forget the animosity and get down to the silliness.

Just because somebody votes for a person you would never vote for, don’t take it personally: they were not voting to tick you off. Perhaps you can change that person’s vote by reasonableness and goodwill – anger and avoidance gets us nowhere. Each of us has so many goodnesses, a poor choice of candidate should only elicit a sigh…and possibly the sigh is for the dearth of good candidates.

There will be another election – consider the significance of that when coaching yourself in how to win friends and influence people on the other side.

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