Politics Versus Relationships


Picture taken in 2020 during the election. Imaging Hanah Netys and Addie Simonson, taken by Hollee Netys.

Hanah Netys, Hour 2

Look around at the life you set up for yourself. Do the people closest to you share the same political opinions as you? Do you find yourself avoiding conversation with others who are involved in a different political party than you? Look at your friends, are they a lot like you? Odds are you answered “yes” to most of these questions. This is because in society people base their opinions on someone’s political affiliation rather than their qualifications which causes divide in society.

What Makes You Think This Way?

It is proven that it is common for bad assumptions to be made if someone does not find the other person to be similar to them. For example Kathryn Bruchmann, author of Seeing Beyond Political Affiliations] explains reasons people may not be fond of each other : ”People also tend to dislike others who hold different values, beliefs, or attitudes; changing an initially positive impression…people perceive those who disagree on political issues to be more dissimilar to them than they actually are.” This evidence lists very few of the many reasons why assumptions are made about people, when friends are being selected. To solidify that this is accurate, SPASH conducted a survey. In that survey we asked the question “Do you choose your friends based on their political beliefs?” After 38 SPASH students answered this question, 36.2% of those who answered, chose to pick their friends based on their political beliefs. 40% of the people who took this survey advised that they do use politics as a tool to figure out if they like a person or not. This can become unfair to people who don’t land in this 40%, who just pick their friends based on actual personality.

The Stigma

There is a stigma that people are viewed differently just based on what political party they follow… it exists in SPASH and our society still to this day. The SPASH survey also found 36.8% find themselves having a change of feelings towards a person if they do not have the same political beliefs as them. And 1.7% strongly agree that this would happen to them as well. This indicates that from the people who took this survey, almost half of them would change the way they view a person just based on political affiliation rather than trying to get to know them first. We have to ask the question; What subjects get disagreed upon most often in modern day? When Hollee Netys [ 42 year old employee of Sentry in Stevens Point] answers this question, she states, vaccines seem to be a hot button topic politically which it shouldn’t be, it’s a personal choice.” In other words the recent pandemic of Coronavirus and the spike in other illnesses is a huge subject that is disagreed upon frequently nowadays… showing that divide based on political beliefs is still very real in the 21st century.

What We Can Do

We can solve the problem of uneducated assumptions made about political party members by not judging a book by its cover. Just because someone belonging to the same political party makes a bad mistake, does not make someone associated with the same party a terrible person. The fact of the matter is, that people find the silliest ways to get annoyed with the other party. Mrs.Bruchmann notes,  “People may even be drawn to politically similar people on an olfactory level; people prefer the body odors of people in the same political party over people from the opposing party.” By saying this she describes that people came up with random explanations to clarify why they did not like a person. Ie. their odd dislike of people who have a certain scent. But to this point, it does not seem like this issue is prevalent in all generations. Ms. Netys adds, “Typically, politics don’t enter a conversation at my age when talking to light friendships. If they do and they’re opposing, I change the subject or hear their view.” By saying this, Ms.Netys reveals that being a middle aged woman like herself… The issue of politics breaking up friendships in her world is not popular. So this could mean that this issue is most often seen in the younger generations.

Although you may not notice yourself being guilty of jumping to conclusions on a person, there most definitely is someone that you know who most certainly does. It is a growing issue which causes divide in our community and even all around the world. In the end people just need to take a step back and consider a person’s personality and morals before judging them based off of their cover.