As Americans head to the polls today to exercise their First Amendment rights, many may find formerly close family relations and friendships strained over their decisions in the voting booth. It’s happened in my family, and probably yours as well.

Almost every presidential election is played up by the media as the most important election in the history of the nation. It’s unclear if the media’s prediction will be more correct this time around than it was over 200 years ago when this language was first used, but when it comes to family relations, 2020 may push some to the brink.

In an illuminating report, Reuters interviewed Americans who have had their family relations damaged because of who they cast their vote for in 2020 and other elections.

Mayra Gomez, who is described as a lifelong Democrat, lost her relationship with her son when she announced her decision to vote for President Donald Trump in 2020. She tells Reuters that she likes his handling of illegal immigration and the economy.

“He specifically told me, ‘You are no longer my mother, because you are voting for Trump’,” Gomez, 41 said to Reuters. “The damage is done. In people’s minds, Trump is a monster. It’s sad. There are people not talking to me anymore, and I’m not sure that will change.”

It’s even torn apart marriages, as Gayle McCormick, 77, separated from her husband William, 81, in 2016 after he voted for Trump. The couple now live separately, though they remain married, and two of her grandchildren no longer speak with her because she voted for Hillary Clinton.

McCormick believes that it is unlikely that “those rifts with friends and family will ever mend, because each believes the other to have a totally alien value system.”

Sarah Guth, a Joe Biden supporter from Denver, Colorado, said, “We had such fundamental disagreements about such basic stuff. It showed both sides that we really don’t have anything in common. I don’t believe that will change in the post-Trump era.”

There’s a lot of truth in that.

The extreme nature of the current American political climate is damaging family relationships. I’ve seen it happen in my own family.

Last week, my mother and I had a conversation about how frustrated she was that my aunt, her sister, was posting certain political articles on Facebook. It wasn’t necessarily just that she was voting for the other party, but that she was posting some wild and unsubstantiated allegations that compared one of the nominees to Adolf Hitler. My mother’s reaction wasn’t just about politics, but it was a real emotional response as well and caused her to question whether the two could be in the same room together anytime soon.

An employee at Focus on the Family shared that he has one child voting for Trump, another for Joe Biden and the final is a supporter of Bernie Sanders. For him, it’s been an incredibly frustrating experience, especially as one of his children gets their information entirely from Twitter. That’s not exactly the most reliable source of information.

I’m sure many families around the country have similar stories.

So, as the election finally comes to a close tonight, despite the way someone in your family may have voted, it’s a great time to come together and mend fences. Though elections can have severe consequences for the country and the world, relationships with family and friends are critical to our wellbeing and shouldn’t be discarded based on what happens in the voting booth.

Though, to do that, you may want to avoid talking about politics for the foreseeable future.

Photo from Shutterstock

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