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Relationships across party lines are not always easy in election year

Sami Morsink grew up in a “very liberal” family. She is “adamant” about animal rights, environmental protection and equality. She also has a boyfriend who is voting for Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Morsink, who said she cast her ballot for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has been dating Connor Lewis for three years. Their partisan differences do cause rifts in their relationship at times, Morsink said.

“I get very heated about (politics) very quickly,” Morsink, a freshman studying journalism, said. “I try to make a point, and it’ll blow up into a whole argument just because he’s (politically) so far right. … I can’t really get where he’s coming from on a lot of things.”

Although the couple tries to avoid discussing politics, it becomes difficult during election season, Lewis, a junior studying computer science and film at the University of Texas, said.

“Even just seeing news come up about one of the two (candidates) will spark conversation between us, and sometimes it’ll escalate and get heated,” Lewis said. “The closer it gets to the election, the harder it’s been to put those things past us.”

Respect for the other person’s opinion is key to maintaining a healthy relationship, Morsink said.

“If I don’t agree with it, I can still respect his opinion,” Morsink said. “If you are so far one way and you can’t even understand or listen to what someone’s going to say, it’s probably not going to work.”

Johnathen Sweeney, a freshman studying journalism, said he would not consider dating or being friends with a Trump supporter.

“I see some of the things Trump does and has said about people, and I just can’t,” Sweeney said. “When I hear about the things he’s said about women, minorities, (people with) disabilities, Muslims — that’s a degrading way to think about other people. To support that, even if you don’t support those specific things, you’re still supporting his aura.”

Personal relationships between people of different parties can be difficult at times during the election, Sweeney said.

Political differences should not be a reason to end a friendship or relationship, Bailey Williams, a freshman studying political science, said. Williams, a member of Ohio University College Democrats and a Clinton supporter, has a close friendship with a Trump supporter.

“It’s been hard because we butt heads a lot, but I’ve learned you’ve got to have patience because you don’t want to lose a friend over something like this,” Williams said. “Even though I’m very passionate about politics as a poli-sci major, you have to be patient. The best you can do is try to articulate your viewpoint the best you can without being condescending.”

The best way to maintain those relationships is to try to understand the other person’s side and reserve judgment, Williams said.

“For Trump people, I know there’s a huge stereotype with them that they’re racist, misogynist, whatever, but that’s not the case,” he said. “A lot of people are supporting Trump because they’re supporting the Republican (nominee). People voting for Trump should not be looked at as Trump themselves. I think Trump is a very disgusting person, but that doesn’t mean the people who are voting for him are.”

Politics are not the most important thing in a relationship, Lewis said.

“We’ve gotten through it, so I would suggest to people not to let political differences get in the way of a relationship you really care about because there are much more important things,” he said.


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