My name is Massimo Guglietta and I hate my best friend. I met my best friend Chris Hanley four years ago, in Mettler Hall, during my first day as a freshman at Rutgers University and we’ve made countless memories together. I have lived with Hanley for all four years of college, I love the guy, but at the same time I really, REALLY, hate him.
So I guess the small difference between Hanley and myself (despite him having 100 lbs. and about six inches on me) is that Chris is a die-hard, avid, shameless, loud Trump supporter while I am a basically the extreme polar opposite that leans extremely liberal in every sense of government. Hanley and I are known to scream at each other while arguing over politics, and actually one time we did resort to some physical violence. We’ve also gone dressed as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump respectively for Halloween and he gave me a Trump pencil holder for Christmas. Needless to say we don’t always agree with each other but can always have a good laugh about it.
It could be for five minutes or it could be for two hours, but every time we talk about politics we always get into heated arguments that almost always end up as a shouting competition (I think we both secretly enjoy when it gets to that point). I genuinely do not agree with anything that Hanley views, the ways he argues and get pissed off when other people I respect agree with him. But despite it all we don’t let politics get in the way of our friendship, because in reality it is a central part of our friendship.
The 2016 presidential election took a toll on the entire country and broke up countless friendships and relationships across the country. However my friendship with Hanley was not effected at all. I do not believe that people should alienate friends from their lives because they do not agree politically from them. It seems that we are almost virtually unable to talk about politics unless it results in personally attacking and screaming at the opposing side. The majority of people in the country would rather not talk about politics at all, stick to their predetermined beliefs, and avoid confrontation than talk about politics. This however destroys the exact nature of democracy that we all love so much.
It is necessary to talk about politics because that’s how we challenge our leaders, change opinions, spread new ideas and create new movements. But you cannot just talk to the people of your own party or else democracy will not progress. Democracy is meant for people to share their own ideas openly through conversation to figure out the exact will of the people. This cannot be done if you are deleting your uncle, or you friend’s mom or you own best friend from Facebook because of their views. Democracy cannot survive if you would rather not talk about politics for the sake of possibly avoiding an argument. I understand that opinions and political views need to be supported with fact, but do not take or turn political conversations into personal attacks on your neighbors. It would have been wrong had I taken anything Hanley said to me personally we would not be best friends today.
I encourage everyone to keep an open mind about people that think differently than yourself. Our nation right now is divided over differing opinions and in order for our democracy to move forward we need to agree to disagree, not be shy to political confrontation and talk to those that think different. It is the only way that democracy will correct itself.
Massimo is a recent graduate of Rutgers of University and a Fulbright Scholar for the English Teaching Assistantship in the Slovak Republic starting in September 2018. I am originally from New Jersey with deep family connections to Italy.