Businessmen Shaking Hands

Letter writer Luke Barnes responds to Jake Brown's letter arguing friends can exist between the bipartisan line. 

Editor's Note: This letter is in response to respective column “Are bipartisan friendships still possible?” by Jake Brown.

Can I still be friends with someone who disagrees with me politically? This is a question that many in our present political climate are asking themselves. Earlier this week, another opinion article in the Iowa State Daily attempted to answer that question.

In the article, Jake Brown argued that we could not consider as friends those who vote counter to ourselves. Personally, I disagree with this stance vehemently. To base one’s friendship upon political agreement is short-sighted, small-minded and slighting.

To base the status of friendships upon merely politics is incredibly short-sighted because it ignores that times change, and opinions change with them. What someone believes today, they might not believe tomorrow or next week or next year. It would be unwise to forsake them during the mental turbulence of a changing worldview. And if you truly disagree, and you truly care about this person, you will make efforts toward the realization of their changed worldview.

To break off a friendship because of political animosity is also small-minded. It ignores that there are underlying reasons as to why people hold their opinions. To give an example, I personally believe that practicing homosexuality is a damnable sin. This does not keep me from maintaining relationships with homosexuals. In fact, I find that they are often very nice people. I am able to recognize that my own opinion stems from my religion. So long as my homosexual friends do not also pretend to adhere to my religion, I have no problem with them.

My friends, in like manner, do not hold it against me because they are able to recognize that I have reasons for my beliefs, and we can maintain a friendly relationship regardless.

Lastly, viewing friends as merely votes is slighting. It is an insult to maintain that everyone is as fixated on politics as you are. To base friendships upon petty political opinion is to view people as one-dimensional. To such a person, people are no more than black and white pawns that fulfill political ends. Such a person is obsessed with politics and practically worships it as the center of their life.

They ignore the blue skies for the small cloud on the horizon. Even in Washington, D.C., it is not uncommon for members of the opposing parties to go together for a drink and talk about life. Sure, they might have some pretty serious grievances politically, but that does not stop them from maintaining civility outside of Congress. We ought to recognize each other as multi-faceted individuals with our own unique beliefs and reasons for holding them.

It IS possible to have friendships across party lines. To demand uniformity of opinion amongst one’s friends is controlling, toxic and abusive. We ought to be able to recognize the good in everyone. Not every Trump supporter is a neo-Nazi, just like how not every Biden supporter is a gun-grabbing communist.

If you know that your friend will check the other box on Nov. 4th, shake their hand and say, “May the best man win," then go and have a drink together, talk about your job or the weather, maybe fire up a video game. Recognize that there is more to life than politics and enjoy the company of your friends.

Luke Barnes is a sophomore in history. 

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