This election is divisive. Maybe you’ve dropped a friend on Facebook or had a spat at the family dinner table. Yet some political opposites make it work. We reached out through our Public Insight Network to hear how you’re managing relationships with family and friends with whom you disagree.
Bonnie Shriner and her husband Hank, of Denver, have spent the season battling over lawn signs. She bought a Clinton sign and put it in their yard. Then one day a Trump sign arrived for her husband. Bonnie put it in her car, drove it to her office and left it in a closet. Three weeks later, she saw Hank take her Clinton sign off the yard. They agreed to a compromise: He’d take his Trump sign to a neighbor to post. She’d take her Clinton sign to another neighbor to display. But, Bonnie admits, it hasn’t quite worked out that way yet. “Neither of us has produced the sign yet, so we’re still at loggerheads.”
Carol Mullenax says she and her granddaughter, Shawnna Mullenax, are "exact opposites" politically -- but they keep their talks friendly. "It's never hard words over politics," says Mullenax, who lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Shawnna, a graduate student in political science at the University of Colorado Boulder, supports Hillary Clinton. Carol describes herself as a conservative and says she'll "vote the party line" this year. She says she's convinced the country "is not in a good place." Shawnna says she welcomes the possibility of woman president. Listening to her grandmother talk about life in the South, where conservative views are more widely held, is interesting to her as a political scientist.
In Grand Junction, lawyer Vince Felleter is a Trump supporter. That puts him at odds with his daughter, Clare, who works at Regis University in Denver. Vince says he was a liberal, too, when he was Clare’s age -- but now he thinks government’s too heavy-handed and people are too reliant on its help. He wants a complete overhaul of the system. Clare says not everybody had the same advantages growing up, and government needs to put them on equal footing. She thinks it’d be great to have a woman president.
The Felleters say they use humor to ease the tension -- just recently Clare’s mom texted to remind her to vote, and her dad followed up with a note teasing that she didn’t need to bother.
Here's how others talked about this divisive election season:
She leans left, her husband's libertarian. They focus on common values: "Most people wouldn't be close if they didn't have something in common and values that they share. They can focus on those. While I may think the government should have a greater role than my husband, we both believe individuals should work to better their communities so we try to do that. Sometimes, you just have to realize there are things you will never agree on so if it doesn't affect your actions, you may need to just leave it alone."
-- Stephanie Ashley, Golden
Staying neighborly on the Western Slope: "All my neighbors and I are on polar opposite sides politically ... what brings us together is our lifestyle of having to rely on each other for so many things just to get by, such as my very conservative neighbor who takes me to the hills to cut firewood for me so that I don't freeze in winter!"
--Marla Bishop, Crawford, Colorado
On working together despite political differences: "People need to give up their 'this is the end of civilization' attitude."
-- David Conner, Loveland
He's for Johnson, she'll vote Clinton. They'll break a tradition this year. "My husband and I have always made a ceremony out of going to our polling place to cancel out each other’s votes. This year we aren’t doing that. What brings us together? We love each other."
-- Margret Rosenberg, southwest Denver suburbs
They bond over cars but disagree about the value of a third-party vote: "A very good friend of mine who is an old car buff like me is a strong Trump supporter, and he simply states that my vote for Johnson is just another vote for Clinton. I gently disagree, and we get along just fine by not arguing about our differences."
-- Larry Ramsdell, Denver
It's still Clinton vs. Sanders for this couple: "My life partner is a long-time rabid Clinton supporter who has grudgingly come to terms with the fact that I will be writing in Sen. (Bernie) Sanders ... I see no value to our relationship now or in the future to attempt to persuade her that as citizens we have an obligation to employ public servants whom we believe are committed to working for the goals we support and upholding the ideals and principles we hold most dear. We the citizens are the government and therefore have an obligation and responsibility to vote for the person we believe will do the best job administering our governmental agencies. We're not picking winners, we're selecting public servants."
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