I came across an exchange on Facebook that recently went viral. The original post was from a couple of parents in Texas who back different senate candidates and have different political ideologies but nevertheless find a way to live together with love and respect. It’s sweet, and it became very popular because in a nation as deeply divided as ours, it gives people hope that maybe we can get along despite our differences.
I really do think that’s true for a whole lot of people, but you know that isn’t the whole story. Here’s a response shared by a friend on Facebook (not written by her; I don’t know the writer.) While we may well be able to compromise with some elements of the left, things like this make it abundantly clear why there can be no peace with Social Justice Warriors.
Here’s the thing about this viral post: it’s the epitome of privilege.
1) Disagreeing about politics is not the same as disagreeing about sports teams you root for. Politics isn’t entertainment – it’s how we care for real life people amongst us. To relate supporting different political candidates to rooting for different sports teams shows a serious disregard to the tangible effects of your vote.
2) These sentiments of “real maturity is not caring at all about how other people vote” and “politics shouldn’t matter in real life relationships” have got to stop. If you can truly “agree to disagree” because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter? Then you live with an *enormous* amount of privilege. It’s no coincidence that both of the people in this photo are white and appear to live in a nice middle/upper class suburban neighborhood. Could you just laugh and agree to disagree with someone who believes you should be deported? With someone who believes your access to healthcare should be completely taken away to make their’s cheaper? With someone who believes your employer should have the right to fire you because they disagree with your religious beliefs? With someone who believes you should be denied the right to adopt your foster child because you’re single or in a same sex marriage? If you’re able to “agree to disagree” like it’s all no big deal, if you can ignore political coverage to “focus on real life,” or if you can stop thinking about politics once election season is over? Then respectfully, you either aren’t aware the enormous amount of privilege you enjoy, or worse yet you *are* aware and have chosen to isolate yourself from the realities of those who aren’t as lucky because it simply isn’t your problem.
This post isn’t something to strive for. It’s not example of “what America needs more of right now.” It’s not a model for a better way forward. It’s an attempt to make passive aggressive judgements on people who “care too much about politics” or “need to stop making this personal.” It’s an attempt to create a false association between rooting for sports teams and “rooting” for political causes – as if this is just another form of entertainment. It’s an attempt to enshrine the perspective of the privileged as “normal” and label the perspectives of those crying out over injustice as “uncivil.”
Loving your neighbor well doesn’t mean “drinking wine together” in your suburban backyard while you humorously laugh about rooting for the other guys “team” and pretending none of it really matters. Loving your neighbor well means understanding that politics is by its very definition the systems by which we care for our neighbors, and recognizing that your vote is a *moral* issue – not just a sporting match.
It’s a response that, I think, reveals a lot more than was intended. Let’s set aside, for the moment, the profoundly bigoted presumption that people have no meaningful stake in politics unless they tick the appropriate demographic boxes. Let’s set aside the fact that loving your neighbor means doing unto others as you would have them do unto you rather than doing unto others as determined by their intersectionality rating. Instead, let’s consider the implication this has for living in the same society as SJW’s.
It is not politics as entertainment or a supposed lack of stakes that allow people of opposing viewpoints to peaceably socialize with one another. Rather, the reason we can agree to disagree is the broader cultural agreement that we will resolve even deep ideological and practical differences through a peaceful political process.
It may be wrapped up in the language of love and morality but this response is ultimately a rejection of democracy in favor of politics by other means. In stating that one cannot–and even should not–peaceably live with one’s neighbors who have different political views, one tacitly declares that America’s peaceful political process–voting, rational discourse, political organization, etc–is not the appropriate way of resolving our national differences. If you cannot eat & drink together, even with family, while you both set out to do better in the next election, then you have not actually accepted the results of the last election as a legitimate arbitration of your differences. This is the mindset of warring tribes, not political opponents in a republic.
As usual, SJW’s make their conclusion quite clear: they cannot live in peace with us unless we vote their way. Cooperation and compromise are not on the table. The only options that SJW’s consider viable for us are submission or annihilation.
I suspect that a great many of the people cheering for this kind of rhetoric aren’t being honest with themselves about what they’re really calling for. If they were, they might be more thoughtful about the terrible price both sides will end up paying when they finally get their way. But their mindfulness or lack thereof doesn’t change the reality that they have put us in a cold civil war. When one side conditions the acceptance of peaceful politics on getting their way, then America’s ideological divisions are no longer a matter of peaceful politics. Those of us on the right need to start preparing for a divorce, because for the left, it’s already well underway.