Talking with my right-wing friends

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

I know a couple who are fairly right-wing. I like them dearly. They are important to me. They call themselves libertarian. They did not vote for Trump, though their parents and siblings voted for Trump.

I try to avoid talking politics with them, but on the rare occasion when politics comes up, the thing that strikes me most is this: they never ask me what I think, instead, they tell me what I think.

I’m not sure what their motivation is. Among good lawyers, the rule is, in court, “Don’t ever ask a question unless you already know the answer.” So it’s possible my friends adopt the rules of lawyers whenever politics is discussed. Perhaps they learned that style from their parents? When the topic is politics they seem to quickly (and unconsciously) adopt the attitude “Argument is combat.”

I don’t need to ask them how they feel, because they will talk and talk and talk, explaining both how they see things and how I see things.

They mention something stupid that John Kerry said in 2004. I’ve never mentioned John Kerry, but my friends assert some link between me and John Kerry. Then they’ll bring up the movies of Michael Moore, and link me to Michael Moore. I have not mentioned Moore, nor would I. My friends feel free imply connections between me and many other people who they think have said stupid things. There is little similarity between me and the people who offend my friends, but they assert connections. During these conversations I remain almost entirely silent, and I wait for my friends to stop talking about politics. We already know we disagree, so why are they talking about it? I am not talking about it.

To some extent, they seem to engaged in the practice that a Christian would call “giving Testimony”. They explain their truth, and they talk about the darkness in which I live. They don’t know much about my thinking on political issues, but they know I disagree with them, which is enough to set them off on their Testimony.

I’m curious about people so I’m often interested in hearing how others think.

I’m not sure what game my friends are playing, when they tell me how I think, but I know it is different form the kind of conversations I normally pursue regarding politics.