Our political culture is a bit toxic these days. We lose friends, retract support for celebrities, and boycott businesses because our political ideals are not the same. Stay strong in your beliefs, but don’t let politics overrule your life.

There are so many things that make up complex cultures. The beauty in it all is no matter who you vote for, you can enjoy the same music, chicken nuggets, social media platforms, stores, and so much more as someone on the other side of politics. This can only occur if you refuse to let political views influence every decision you make. 

American political parties have a “left” and “right” side. It takes both to make a whole body, and it takes both parties to make up our two-party system and governing bodies. Without both parties, our freedoms wouldn’t be as important. If everyone thought the same, politics would be unbearably boring. 

You don’t have to agree with the political stances of the other party to get along and support them as people. Have you ever heard the term, “Hate the sin, love the sinner?” This applies to politics as well. “Hate the policy, love the person.” Love will get you much farther than hate. 

Hating people just because they don’t agree with you makes the entire party look bad. If we want to change minds, we have to start by establishing friendships. That being said, don’t establish friendships with the sole intention of changing minds. Realize that people have differing opinions, and that is okay. You don’t know their full story of why they believe how they believe. 

Go out to eat with your socialist friend (just don’t pay; kidding!).

Listen to your roommate explain why she loves Bernie.

Hang out with the people you love and disagree with.

Remember, politics do not belong in every conversation.

Know why you believe in what you believe in.

Speak up when it’s time to speak up and scroll past when that’s the better option. 

Your social media is yours to share your thoughts and opinions. Your friends’ are theirs for the same reason. Now, I don’t blame you for blocking or unfriending people you don’t speak to outside of social media or if they’re being bluntly rude, but if your friend posts something you disagree with, it costs $0 to scroll past. If they’re truly your friend, they probably scroll past everything you post that they disagree with. Be open to their opinions, but leave these conversations out of the public light. 

Being civically engaged by being knowledgeable in political policies, candidates on the local, state, and federal level, and voting/advocating for those who you support is important. This has a time and place, though. You can support both Nikki Haley and Ariana Grande. These will be different types of support, but it’s comparable to buying your favorite meal and your favorite book. The two have nothing to do with each other, but they are both important to you.   

Support your favorite artist, go to the best coffee shop in town, buy a cute outfit from your favorite boutique, treat yourself to some frozen yogurt, and order the bag you’ve been eyeing for months. Do all of this without thinking about their political stances. 

If you’re feeling really risky, listen to Taylor Swift while writing a paper on capitalism on your MacBook covered in FFL stickers and sipping on Starbucks. These are all influential aspects of the culture we’ve had the privilege to grow up in. 

Remember: friends, celebrities, and businesses are more than their political stances.

Whitney E

Whitney is a senior majoring in communication at Mississippi State University. When she's not preparing for law school, you can find her online shopping or planning a trip to Disney World. She loves Ronald Reagan, traveling, and all things preppy.