Opinion: It's Important to Think About Your Family When You Vote

Walter Rhein

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I think it’s weird when people say you shouldn’t let politics get in the way of your relationships with family or friends. Everything you do in life has consequences. If you do something that hurts a friend or a family member, you deserve to lose that relationship.

It’s almost as if people want to insist that they shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions.

“How dare you stop talking to me because I voted for a candidate that vowed to annul your marriage!”

Where does the idea that your vote should be separate from your relationships originate?

The simple truth is that a person who cares about their family won’t vote in a way that harms members of their family.

It has long been said that you shouldn’t discuss politics or religion in polite company. Have you ever considered that axiom might be the problem?

Why do we just accept that people are going to be unreasonable about politics? Maybe we’d have a better society with people making more informed decisions if family members were encouraged to sit and talk to each other about politics.

The one thing everyone can agree on is that what we’ve been doing isn’t working. We need to try something different. Perhaps friends and family should listen to each other and consider how their vote might affect the people they love.

Even though we say you shouldn’t discuss politics, many people make it clear who they are going to vote for. They often shove their support in your face. If you have a relative that doesn’t discuss politics at dinner, but he shows up with a gigantic flag flying from his car, you know how he’s voting.

Don’t those flags violate the belief that you shouldn’t discuss politics? If you fly the flag of a candidate with policies that will hurt members of your family, doesn’t it make sense that you will ruin those relationships?

When I was growing up, people used to be held accountable for their actions. These days it seems like everyone wants to do whatever they want and never face any consequences.

The idea that your friends and family shouldn’t disown you because of politics is extremely entitled. Why should the people in your life accept you even when you cause them harm?

Instead of lecturing people because they dislike your politics, maybe you should try listening. If the way you vote makes somebody angry enough to never talk to you again, maybe you should consider that your actions are offensive.

There is far too much violent rhetoric in modern American politics. The days of courteous political discussion are in the past. In a changing political landscape, we have to change our approach.

If you think that family is more important than politics, then you have more options than just digging your heels into the ground. It’s ridiculous to be angry at somebody who never wants to talk to you again because of the candidates you supported. Maybe they recognize something that you don’t.

If you think that family is more important than politics, then you have the power to save your relationships. Listen to your family, and be willing to hear their objections to a candidate. If you want to preserve your relationships, vote for candidates that don’t support policies that cause harm to your loved ones.

If you refuse to do that, you care more about politics than your relationships. If that’s the case, then losing those relationships is the rightful consequence of your vote.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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