Republicans Want To Hurt Us And We Are Not Obligated To Be Friends With Them
Among the various remembrances of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been a lot of handwringing about how she and Antonin Scalia had such a lovely friendship and listened to opera together and rode elephants together and how we're not going to have those kinds of relationships between people who are ideologically opposed to one another anymore because of how we are all so bitterly divided.
Here is just a small sampling of them. You will note that they mostly come from conservatives.
I hope and pray that the passings of Justice Scalia and now Justice Ginsburg don’t also herald the end of an era th… https://t.co/jnby4PPlhU— David French (@David French)1600480328.0
I’m so saddened over what has happened to open political discourse. Supreme court justices Scalia and Ginsburg disa… https://t.co/WtY631i6PM— Travis Tritt (@Travis Tritt)1600479203.0
Scalia and Ginsburg were good friends even with their disagreements. I always thought they best modeled how civilit… https://t.co/rWWbERdr6r— Dana Loesch (@Dana Loesch)1600485904.0
Bill Clinton to @jaketapper about the importance of having ideological diversity in your friendships: “Life can bec… https://t.co/KVND4pXufJ— Dave Catanese (@Dave Catanese)1600611807.0
One of the most beautiful and interesting modern public friendships was that between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her id… https://t.co/QQ1HkcqEQD— Meghan McCain (@Meghan McCain)1600474979.0
I love opera, too. I have many friends who hate it, just as I have many friends who differ from me in lots of other ways. I don't have friends who regularly insult me or my other friends or who think we are not deserving of rights.
I do not have friends who are cruel.
I have friends who are kind, who are caring, who are funny and who think about how their actions affect other people. This eliminates practically all Republicans right off the bat. Republicans believe things that are insulting to other people, end of story. Why on earth would I want to hang out with someone who doesn't think I am deserving of reproductive rights? Or that my trans friends shouldn't be allowed to go to the bathroom? Or that my Black friends are lying about the existence of racism and police brutality? Or who thinks it's fine that we're throwing children in cages and performing forced hysterectomies on women in ICE custody?
Those seem like some pretty bright red flags to me. Why on earth would I think that someone who believed those things about me or about other people would be a good friend to me? What is it that they would be bringing to the table?
People who complain about "division" as if that's the real problem and not, you know, the actual horrible and cruel things that Republicans believe in and want to be the law in this country, are traditionally not people with a whole lot to lose. They're rich people. They're white men. Or they're Republicans who think it's unfair that people don't want to hang out with them because they're mean and they say and believe things that hurt people.
You will notice that they're not usually out there telling rich people to spend more time with poor people. Because that gets awkward, doesn't it? It's one thing to go to the opera with someone with whom you disagree with politically, it's another to continue feeling justified about one's absurd wealth while hanging around someone who works 80 hours a week and barely gets by.
But I digress.
These people would really like it if we could see one another's political opinions as being as much a reflection of one's character as their preferred sports team or taste in music or favorite color or what kind of music they like. This would make everything easier. For them.
I, too, would love it if whoever won the next election affected my life and the lives of those I love as much as whoever won the World Series. I'm sure we all would. That would be lovely! That is not the case.
But there is a very big difference between people being different and people actually just being shitty human beings. West Side Story would be a very different story if the thing standing in the way of Tony and Maria's great love was the fact that Tony was super racist against Puerto Ricans.
And political opinions are absolutely a reflection of character. Possibly even more reflective of one's character than their ability to remain pleasant while discussing Tosca. To be a Republican now, in this day and age, is to find things acceptable that no decent human being would find acceptable. Existence precedes essence. You do shitty things, you're a shitty person. You want to "own the libs?" Fine, but don't then expect the "libs" to hang around with you.
It's not just that we've become polarized in terms of politics. It is harder, in general, to maintain a friendship with someone who is an asshole these days. You'll notice you don't hear a lot of "Oh, he's an asshole at first but once you get to know him and he decides you're cool he's like the greatest guy ever" these days either. Being a cool asshole with a secret heart of gold that people will discover if they just work really hard to win your approval just doesn't work particularly well in the age of social media. No one wants to have a friend on their Facebook posts saying hurtful things to other people that they care about, because that is embarrassing. We're more accountable now, in that way.
And that's a good thing.
Being friends with an asshole doesn't make you the bigger person, it makes you the putz. It makes you someone who spends so much time appeasing the asshole that you neglect people who would actually be a good friend to you. And then what's your big prize at the end?
Be friends with people who are kind to you, who respect you, and whom you don't have to make excuses for when they are crappy to your other friends. It usually works out pretty well.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse