November 7, 2012

On Love and Politics

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With the news of Barack Obama’s reelection, I think we’re all thinking the same thing. Would I date someone of the other political party?Political views are an interesting thing about a person. You could know someone for years, spend every day with them and still not be sure of their political views. It’s the one characteristic about people that has almost no implication for their real-world actions. Besides voting on a bill in the senate, if you aren’t an activist, your political views have little to do with how you treat your fellow man, how hard you work or how good you are in bed. Maybe if two people just never talk about their political affiliation, they can go through life and it will never matter.I know people who have vastly different political views than me who I love and trust. My own mother and I voted for different presidential candidates, yet we are scarily alike in all of our other characteristics. Because politics is about policy, and policy is about sociology when it comes down to it. So believing in a policy is a belief about how you predict other people will act given certain constraints. These beliefs rarely manifest themselves in daily life, let alone a romantic relationship.So at first, it may seem like the politics question should be left out of any interviews with potential suitors. Maybe it doesn’t matter which box your significant other checks on the ballot.But then I think about my lifelong dream of having a cohort with me at Thanksgiving to glance over to in camaraderie after my uncle says something racist about Obama. While my family talks in that way that people talk when they know everyone in the room agrees with them, my future husband and I will silently endure and eat our mashed potatoes. As we leave, we’ll be so thankful we have each other’s backs. But until then, I’m alone. This Thanksgiving will be a particularly fun one. I may have to come up with a drinking game — take a sip of wine anytime anyone says “Christie 2016” or “socialist.”I digress. I’ve always imagined my significant other to be my partner in life, trying to get through it all together. Does that include being a partner in politics?The answer is complicated. I think it’s absolutely absurd to write someone off based on his or her political party. On the other hand, if they have opposing views on issues that I deeply feel passionate about, it’s not going to work out. Just as an example, if you don’t think gay people are entitled to the right of marriage, then you don’t have the right to marry me.How involved and passionate they are about their political ideology also matters. I think two people who are both extremely passionate and vocal about opposing sides of the same coin will struggle to stay together. If politics are important to you, it’s just like anything else that’s really important to you: You want your partner to feel the same way. While a passionate enemy may be sexy and exciting, when you’re 40 and you’re just trying to read the newspaper without a lecture on how your views are wrong, divorce might seem extraordinarily tempting.So next time I’m dating someone, I’ll exhale a sigh of relief when they agree with me on an important issue. Because sometimes a political view not only reflects who we choose to run our government, but reflects who we are at our core.Then again, sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe we’ll instead disagree on a foreign policy issue and have an informed discussion about it. It will have nothing to do with our relationship and everything to do with things neither of us fully understand. I’ll just have to wait and see.

Morgan Bookheimer is a senior in the College of Human Ecology. She may be reached at [email protected]. Behind the Time appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Morgan Bookheimer