I’ve thought a bit about what my New Year’s resolution for 2020 should be, and I’ve decided it really is pretty simple: my resolution is to try to make it to the end of 2020 without irretrievably alienating any of my friends or family.
This may sound like an easy resolution to keep, but I don’t think it is — not really. In fact, I think 2020 is going to be one of the toughest years, ever, to get through while keeping your coterie of friends, family, and colleagues intact. That’s because, in this already absurdly super-heated political environment, we’re moving into a year where there will be a presidential campaign, a presidential election, and, apparently, an impeachment trial — all percolating at the same time. Many of my friends and family members, of all political stripes, feel very passionately about each of those events in isolation. When you put them all together you’ve got what is probably the most combustible combination of political events in American history.
One year that might be comparable is 1864, when a presidential election took place in the midst of a Civil War, when even the Union, alone, was bitterly divided. But even 1864 might not really be a good comparator, because in those days the candidates and the country as a whole didn’t need to run a gauntlet of caucuses, primaries, debates, and 24-hour news coverage. Unfortunately, we’ll be subjected to all of those things.
Our current circumstances have produced the kind of fervent environment where one ill-chosen word or ill-advised joke could damage feelings beyond repair, end a friendship that has endured for decades, or cause family members to vow never to talk to each other or interact again. I don’t want that to happen. I like and respect all of my family members and friends, and I’d like to end 2020 without experiencing any regrets that some stupid blog post, social media comment, or argument after a few adult beverages wrecked things. So this year will be a year of walking on eggshells, with all things dealing with the presidential election off-limits for me. Call me a wimp if you want.
This is my own, self-imposed pledge. I’m not going to shush my friends or try to keep them from expressing their strongly held views in strongly phrased ways. But as for me, I value my friends and family more than I value my need to engage in political debates.