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NYT: Since 2000, many have turned to avoiding political talk, and self-selecting friends

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:35 AM
Original message
NYT: Since 2000, many have turned to avoiding political talk, and self-selecting friends
The Elephant in the Room
By ANNE E. KORNBLUT
Published: October 29, 2006

...With Iraq locked in seemingly endless violence and a contentious midterm election just weeks away, a similar silent treatment seems to be spreading across certain corners of society. People who once feistily shared their convictions about politics now report biting their tongues around or even completely avoiding friends and relatives who disagree, trying to avoid fights over the Bush administration and, specifically, the war.

The simple image of a polarized nation, with a great divide between entirely red and entirely blue states, was never quite accurate: Many metropolitan areas, in particular, support a mix of both parties, with Republicans and Democrats living and working peacefully, for the most part, side by side. Those people have always car-pooled, had play groups, and shared elevator rides and adjoining cubicles, often forming friendships through bonds that have nothing to do with politics.

But as the fissures that opened after the 2000 election have become more extreme over the last six years, the divisions are playing out in small and personal ways, influencing friendships, acquaintances and even family dynamics. In some cases, the divisions have caused painful rifts. In others, they have simply produced a wary quiet.

Many people said they are simply tired of debating the policies that have split the country so thoroughly. They know where they stand; they know where their friends, neighbors and colleagues stand. Rather than shift their views or even play along in a show of tolerance, many said they have opted for retreat and the safe harbor of friends who agree.

That instinct for self-selection has created a certain awkwardness in some environments, as people tread carefully on the subject of politics for fear of discovering that a neighbor is of another stripe. One result, said political experts, is that public discourse seems to be dimming, with people returning to the manners of an earlier time when discussing politics was considered rude rather than enlightening....

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/fashion/29rift.html?_...
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BleedingHeartPatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
1. This is not new. I remember arguing with friends and family right after 9/11.
I couldn't believe gwb flew all over the country, hiding out, while we watched the attacks in horror.

I also felt that he was the worst possible person to be president during a national crisis.

During the years prior to gwb's cabal rule, the workplace was a lively place to debate politics. I remember discussing everything from the Clarence Thomas hearings to Clinton's speech at the OK bombing memorial as well as Dan Quayle's gaffes and our reactions to the Gulf War in an unfettered way.


Since the cabal's arrival, political discussion has been wiped out.

MKJ
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OnionPatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
2. Boy, does this hit home
Everyone around me, at work, in the circles of parents at my child's school......everyone eying each other suspiciously. Delicate little conversations at work often end with "Oh, thank God...you're on our side!" or peter out with unspoken agreements not to "go there" and subsequent avoidance.

I never used to give a second thought when I met someone as to whether or not they were conservatives or liberals, but now I find it's one of my first thoughts. There's no way I can even pretend to have a friendship with a conservative and I stick closer to my liberal friends. It's pretty sad but luckily my closest friends and family are all liberals.
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. It hit us, too -- exactly! nt
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Beelzebud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
3. How can this be? I thought Bush was the uniterer?!?
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AlCzervik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
4. the run up to the war, that for me was telling. My friend and her family
were pissed at me for not supporting it, mind you they had no one going to Iraq but i did, anyhow fast forward to 3 years later and they're all horrified by the war, this administration and the mil.
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Kingofalldems Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:00 AM
Response to Original message
5. I'm a uniter not a divider
I can get along with the 'democrat' party--as long as they do what they are told. :sarcasm:
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Missy Vixen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:01 AM
Response to Original message
6. We were threatened by a neighbor shortly after 9/11
I'm amazed it took the NYT this long to finally write about this.

"Self-selecting"? Hell, yeah. We have very few Republican friends now. Neither of us care to be around them. It's not just their politics, either. Who wants to spend time with anyone who is short-sighted and ignorant enough to buy into the beliefs and policies of the Republican party? Their attitudes tend to bleed into other areas of their lives.

I'm currently having an experience with a Republican who frequents another message board I enjoy. I find her, and her ill-informed, simplistic, non-compassionate opinions, repulsive. My only alternative is to ignore her.

Our neighborhood is primarily Republican as well. As a result, we don't spend time with our neighbors, either.

I'm wondering if, not when, this gulf will ever be bridged, not just for us, but for millions around the country.

Julie
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. That 's really extreme! I, too, wonder when/if the gap...
will be bridged.
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:07 AM
Response to Original message
9. This has affected my life, also.
The sad part is, I'm beginning to feel contempt for people who still support bush, and I don't like harboring that feeling within me, although I recognize that bush supporters have absolutely no problem with loathing me and/or my politics.


Rove must have whispered in bush's ear, "As long as they're fighting each other there (in their communities), they won't fight you here."
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:08 AM
Response to Original message
10. For me, tolerance went out the window in March 2003
Rather than shift their views or even play along in a show of tolerance,

They've fucked up our finances before. They've preached at me about morality and abortion before. But they never invaded another country for no good reason before. You don't start a war and expect me to show you any tolerance.
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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:58 AM
Response to Reply #10
18. Panama, Grenada, Cuba, Vietnam
those don't count?

Not to mention Texas and the whole western US and Mexico.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. I meant this particular bunch
As I was hitting "post," Grenada did come to mind. I'm ashamed to say Panama didn't occur to me. However, neither of those were ever planned to be the scope or destruction of *'s war in Iraq.
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asjr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:09 AM
Response to Original message
11. Selection 2000 had the opposite effect on me. My
mouth spigot was turned on permanently. I have not shut up about this illegal administration since. I will never be tired of debating what I consider to be a betrayal of our country.
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Tuesday_Morning Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #11
16. exactly
I never used to talk politics. Now I do all the time...with friends, family, co-workers, grocery store clerks - you name it. People, I find, have varying degrees of awareness about what's going on but everyone I talk to is anxious, worried, wondering WTF is going on.

I think this article just encourages everybody to walk around on tiptoe at a time when that's the last thing we should be doing.
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pberq Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #11
19. Good for you!! we should not be self-intimidated into
avoiding these discussions - you never know who you maight be able to persaude away from the dark side.
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Beetwasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
12. If You Are A Republican/Bush Supporter Today IT IS A SEVERE PERSONALITY DEFECT
Edited on Sat Oct-28-06 11:16 AM by Beetwasher
And I want nothing to do with you. It is either a debilitating and unforgiveable willful ignorance or a willful embrace of hateful, destructive ideology that necessarily means you are a malignant individual and therefore not worthy of my respect or regard.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
13. they have simply produced a wary quiet. ... that is our family
i was just thinking how it has changed us as a family. and i have to really wonder about it. it is sad what has happened to this nation in a very small time. very sad.... there is muchmore to this story and what is happening to us as a people
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bluestateguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
14. I still have Republican friends, but I no longer seek out new ones
I still get along well with my Republican friends, but I have no appeatite for any more for awhile.
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Atman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
15. Despite my web site and activism, I never talk politics with friends
Unless I am relatively certain they're already "aware." Not aware of my own positions, just aware enough to discuss issues and display an iota of intelligence while doing so. Case in point...I dropped by a neighbor's house a couple of months ago, having a drink out on the porch. The guy started bringing up "why I could never vote for a liberal." He went on to describe how the ACLU just sues anybody and everybody because the government is forced to pay their legal bills, and right now they're trying to get all religious symbols sandblasted of tombstones in any public cemetery. I asked him where on earth he heard such an absurd thing, and his only response was "everybody knows that."

"Oh, heck," I said, "I think I left the stove on!" and left. There just isn't a point bringing it up with some/most right wingers.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have been drawn into political discussions with my wife's boss and her husband, despite my best attempts to avoid it. To my surprise, when I mentioned controversial issues about which they weren't aware, the didn't just try to shut me down, the way CUers and freepers do. They expressed interest, "because if they're doing that, I'll be writing my congressman," and asked that I send them some information on the subjects when I was back at my computer. I did...and got thank you letters back for making them aware.

Stupid people will always be stupid people. Ignorant people can be made aware.

.
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cautiouslywaiting Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
17. I've had this problem too.
It makes me sad. People I've known for a really long time are no longer willing to be close to me because of my views. I can't change my beliefs so I had to change my friends.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
20. me too
can only speak to a couple members of my family. not that we were the waltons before. but with a high ranking war hero in the family, it has become too much for me.
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lisby Donating Member (254 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
21. This was the way it was just before the Civil War.
I've been telling people for years that only the thin scrim of socially correct behavior has stopped the two sides from withdrawing further into real war camps. If they steal this election, we may well be headed for another genuine civil war.

Just MHO. YMMV.

Lisby
:hide:
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riderinthestorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 07:29 PM
Response to Original message
23. This is me. I live in fundieville so there's always been a lot of reserve
between my atheistic self and those eager to witness, testify and convert. When you grow up/live amongst this population group you develop a wariness about getting too close to anyone.

But the political line has grown as stark since 2000.

I proudly wear a pin on my purse and my clothes that says "Bring the Troops Home Now!", I have Tammy Duckworth stickers and yard signs adorning my house and my vehicles, I have peace symbol decals on my front door. I find that by being obnoxiously obvious about my politics the only ones who approach me agree with me, the RWers who try to challenge me are quickly shot down.

It creates chasms of quiet and wariness which doesn't really make me crazy since I'm already estranged from most of my fundy neighbors, friends and family. It just makes me sad that there's no bridging anymore. I find my solace and companionship in helping the Duckworth and Laesch campaigns, my husband and my kids, and a few self-selected individuals who value Dem principles as much as I.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 07:45 PM
Response to Original message
24. well I've noticed something lately
Republicans who seem kind of contrite and come at you with a "let's let bygones be bygones" kind of attitude. They don't try to make amends --they just want you to pretend it's all over. Kind of like when the abuser comes back to the battered wife and it's just supposed to be OK from now on. I pretend I don't notice because I don't discuss politics with Republicans--ever. There's lots of other safe topics, like pets and recipes. I don't expect people who are still hardcore Republicans to have any perspectives I can mesh with. Now recovering or ex-Repugs...we can talk.

Anybody else noticed this kind of behavior?
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