The large gender gap evident in the recent midterm elections should make us all ask the same question: How far can this go?
The fabric of American society is very much predicated on the strength of families and communities. With a widening political gap, we need to ask ourselves how this will affect marriage and dating. Is the current toxic political climate ruining relationships that could have otherwise been successful? What can be done to overcome this obstacle to the future of American families?
In her book “Til Faith Do Us Apart,” Naomi Schaefer Riley explores the risks and benefits of interfaith couples. It appears that marrying someone from a faith other than your own can add complications to that relationship. Bridging those gaps of faith can become an obstacle to a healthy relationship.
Political differences have shown themselves to sew division between close friends, family members, and so romantic relationships will be no exception. Politics can ruin relationships, and they are.
Friends of mine who are eager to get married and are dating seriously, suddenly need to worry about a whole new aspect of dating: politics. It was hard enough to date before politics became so divisive. Now it is even harder.
Young people seeking romantic partners no longer have the luxury of worrying about the classic questions of chemistry that concerned dating couples; they need to worry about whether or not their politics will match. After all, why date someone with radically different political convictions than yours just to see your relationship crumble for your political disagreements?
Professor Eitan Hersh from Tufts University did a great deal of research on politically intermarried couples — 20 million in 2016— but the question, now, is what happens to dating and romance in such a polarized time?
Studies show that with every year that goes by people are less likely to agree to date someone with different political opinions. Does that mean we are all doomed? Does that mean that in ten years we will need to meet our dates at the ballot box? Is all hope lost?
When thinking of this difficult question I reflected on my own dating experience. When dating who is now my wife, I remember doing what I would do with so many other girls I dated: talking politics. While dating, I would discuss issues and love to hear what the girls I dated thought of them. Enjoying the discussion — and the debates — I learned about so many other perspectives.
This time, however, was different. We got to an issue on which we clearly had very different opinions. I realized I liked this girl and did not want to sacrifice this date on the unsacred alter of politics. I told her that if we continued discussing the topic that had started our debate, we would probably not go out again. And then, we just moved on to the next topic. Case closed.
Politics do not need to divide us. But that does not mean we should be apolitical.
Interestingly, people are more likely to not date someone for not having any opinions than someone who has an opinion different than their own. Having opinions is important. We just don’t have to debate every opinion that we have. Politics should not poison every aspect of our lives; definitely not our personal lives.
This was best put by Jeremy Boreing. He said:
People who didn’t care about politics for most of my lifetime are unfriending lifelong friends on Facebook…As the internet moves us from having regional communities to being able to find people we don’t even know personally—but they agree with us and we find affirmation in that. You are now willing to unfriend you have known for twenty years who watched after your children when they played in the front yard; who would be there for you if you or your spouse had been injured. You are then unfriending them on this abstract called politics, so you can continue to find affirmation from people you will never lay eyes on about something that has very little immediate impact on your life.
I remember sitting in a public space recently and overhearing someone express a political position I found to be enraging. So much so that I was thinking of going over to him and telling him what I thought. Suddenly, his beautiful children arrived. I saw what an amazing and kind father he was. I was suddenly able to reshape the way I saw him as a person.
Politics no longer mattered.
The next time you meet someone you like, just put politics aside. America cannot afford another blow to our families. Couples should not pay this price for toxic politics. Let’s make romance and families great again.
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a rabbi, teacher, and bipartisanship activist. His recent TEDx talk The High Price of Political Polarization focused on the impact polarization has on society.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.