Other elephants, other rooms

Today I spent time with somebody I like I lot, a friend from out of town who happens to be a conservative Republican. The last time we got together, we had a rather tense and careful conversation that led to some awkwardness and a certain amount of mutual disbelief, the subtext going both ways being something like “I can’t believe somebody as intelligent as you believes such things.”

This time though, the elephant stayed politely and invisibly tucked away in a corner of the room. The subject of politics was not raised, and it was clear that neither of us had any interest in raising it. Given the recent turn of events, I’m sure my friend would have agreed that Barack Obama is much closer to becoming our 44th U.S. President than is John McCain. But I didn’t have the slightest interest in pointing this out. It would have felt smug and condescending, and would have served no purpose other than to drive a personal wedge between us.

I think that part of the reason the topic was off-limits – much as I hate to admit this – is that Obama’s advantage is not primarily due to his political views (which of course are far more similar to my own than are those of his opponent) but rather to the fact that he has run an excellent and professional campaign, whereas McCain and his advisors have made just about every mistake imaginable – the largest being the rash choice of Sarah Palin, which has removed any hope of the G.O.P. reaching the numbers it needs among the all-important undecided voters.

It is not so much my friend’s beliefs that America is probably about to vote against, but rather the incompetency of his party’s campaign. And so, agreeing to ignore that elephant in the corner, my friend and I had a wonderful time. We discussed music, movies, family, and all of those mundane yet comforting things that will continue on beyond November 4, no matter who enters the Oval Office this coming January.

4 Responses to “Other elephants, other rooms”

  1. Dagmar says:

    I think that is the thing about a friendship, one can settle a even serious argument without agreement – or with an agreement that says something like, we have different opinions on this point and can still be friends, because there is a common base, that is larger then the topic of disagreement.
    You still like each other and still listen to each other.

    I believe that a friendship would be worth nothing without being able to argument and to disagree and being able to stand this. Just imagine someone who only tries to please you! Would you like to be a friend of someone like this?

    In spite of having made and being in politics for more than half of my life, not everyone with the same political opinions is my friend – thank god- and a lot of people with completely different political opinions are still my friends, even if we had hard and serious discussions on political topics.
    And honestly I remember most of those arguments still very fondly, because of the feeling I had afterwards, this : ‘we can laugh about it and we still respect each other’.

    There is a very sad moment I had after an political argument with a friend. The argument was very hard and we grew louder at some point, while her son was sitting with us. Since her son was something around ten at that time, he needed to go to bed early. That meant for him to leave, while his mother and me were still fighting and he didn’t learn that night – before going to sleep -that we both settled our argument.
    The very next morning I was preparing breakfast for all in the kitchen, the son came in and was surprised I was still there. So I told him, well your mother and me have different opinions at times, sometimes we argue, but we still like each other. For him having an argument was the same thing as dissolving a friendship, that is what I found was very sad.

    Only once in my life I needed to say to someone, who wanted to be my friend and tried to please me in any possible way, that we can’t be friends. That was because he wasn’t able to argue and he didn’t have an opinion, he would stand up for. He was only driven by others and what they say.
    The only thing I could ‘feel’ was pitifulness and that exactly isn’t a base for friendship, is it?

  2. admin says:

    I completely agree – friends should be able to talk through their differences, not simply avoid them.

    My point was that I chose not to have this discussion now because we wouldn’t so much have been discussing the differences between our positions, but rather the fact that one candidacy (McCain’s) has been falling apart. I’m quite willing to discuss differences with my friends, but I’m not willing to gloat.

  3. Dagmar says:

    LOL- yes- I understood that you had an intensive political discussion with your friend before and you just left it out this time, because it would a) bring nothing really new to the discussion and b) and I guess you felt the same – that your friend realises that McCain isn’t on the winning road any more. There was no need to say a word about it, right?
    And if so, it wouldn’t have been very friendly….

  4. Dagmar says:

    I am sorry for “co-blogging” here anyway… 🙂

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