Politically Divergent Friendships, When They’re Fine vs. When They’re Not

Ellen DeGeneres was pictured palling around with former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game and a lot of people were outraged. Ellen was unmoved and in fact she was indignant about their outrage. Ellen quoted a tweet that said her friendship with the former President gave the tweeter “faith in America again” and argued that we should be friends with people who disagree with us. On its surface, it’s a valid point so let’s take a look at when it’s fine to be friends with those people whose politics we find “disagreeable”.

It’s fine if they voted for George W. Bush.

It’s definitely not fine if they are now or have ever been George W. Bush.

It’s fine if they supported the war in Iraq, although if they supported it even after the surge you probably don’t want to let them pick the restaurant you eat at because clearly, they lack sound judgment.

It’s not fine if they started the war in Iraq and are directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the continued destabilization of the Middle East.

It’s fine if they have conservative opinions on LGBTQ+ rights. Well not fine per se but those decisions are up to every individual who they choose to associate with.

It’s not fine if they went on prime-time television to demand that America amend our constitution to make sure that gay people couldn’t get married or enjoy the same rights as other citizens. It’s also not fine if they were in a position of power to protect LGBTQ+ persons from hate crimes, perhaps through a law named in honor of Matthew Shepard, and then killed the legislation.

It’s fine if they like Brett Kavanaugh or don’t believe the credible accusations from Dr. Blasey-Ford.

It’s not fine if they hired Brett Kavanaugh (giving him credibility among conservative jurists) and successfully lobbied congress for his appointment to the Supreme Court.

It’s fine if they have a different view of enhanced interrogation and whether Guantanamo Bay should remain open.

It’s not fine if they made the United States into a torture nation while routinely abusing international human rights and our constitution. It’s not fine if they sanctioned the rollback of our civil liberties and empowered an unaccountable super intelligence state.

This isn’t about policing George Bush for thought crime or a difference of political opinion. It’s about his acting out his politics as the leader of the free world and most powerful person on earth and very much materially harming millions of people. Ellen and other liberals defending Bush are revealing more about themselves than they think they are about their detractors. They are indifferent to human suffering and they view their lives as existing outside of politics, for them this is an issue of class solidarity. How quickly we forget the villains of yesterday because of our current temporary discomfort with the incumbent. Liberals have forgiven Kissinger in spite of Cambodia, they’ve attempted to claim Reagan as their own because of his anti-Russia bent despite his 8 years of global carnage, and they’ve even invited the late John McCain into their hearts because he was polite while loudly promoting every potential war no matter the civilian cost. We shouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years we witness the rehabilitation of Trump because liberals are disgusted by President Josh Hawley. They’ll say “oh what a man Trump was. He served with distinction and openness though we disagreed. Where have all the Trumps gone?” The collective amnesia of the liberal establishment and the American public is disheartening. We need to learn to love one another again, but let’s not start with Bush.