Ill-Equipped: Who Isn't?

12/27/2006 01:07 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Jennifer Lehr answers your questions about sex, love, and relationships every week on Fearless Voices. To send her a question, email

Dear Jennifer,

My husband and I are very good friends with another couple and they
are--I can barely write it....Republicans! images-5.jpgHaving never been friends with
a Republican before--or at least not that I was aware of--I was shocked
when I found out his views on virtually everything George Bush. I
actually am not sure what his wife's thoughts are because she didn't
enter the fray. Anyway, I have always adored them. They are loving,
supportive, reliable, enthusiastic friends. But I just can't get over
their beliefs, or rather his anyway. It says so much about who they
are...doesn't it? What to do? Just never talk about politics, i.e.
important things in the world like poverty, health care, war, HUMANITY?
And just stick to our children, our personal struggles and business?
I'm starting to feel like I can't be myself! How the hell is James
Carville married to Mary Matalin? If they can be MARRIED, we should be
able to be friends, right?



I know, I've wondered the same thing: How the hell are Carville and
Matalin married? It's bizarre. Of course the two people in a couple
don't need to share all views but, my goodness, to be that far away on
them and to be so outspoken about it seems to me a bit crazy. But I
think we have something to learn from them.

I actually think it is helpful to have friends who have very divergent
viewpoints--especially if you enjoy them as much as you seem to--because
it really is an opportunity to a) try to understand where someone else
is coming from b) be tolerant and c) have a visceral empathy for those
nations and peoples in conflict.

Of course I don't recommend talking politics every time you get
together because then it seems you won't want to get together anymore.
But you might find it interesting to pick a topic, say education, and
really try to understand why they COULD ACTUALLY THINK 'NO CHILD LEFT
afraid I'm not as good at this as I thought. I need practice too. I
actually have a small handful of friends that aren't as sane in their
thinking as I am, so perhaps I should take my own advice here. To be
honest, I too avoid politics altogether because in the past I get so
riled up. But I'm going to use your question as an opportunity to renew
my commitment to being a better listener. And hopefully in being a
better listener I can try to really understand how they came to believe
what they believe. Because if I'm too busy refuting them and thinking
how out of their minds they are, then I can't understand where they are
coming from.