Yesterday Axios published the results of a poll which found that about a quarter of college students would not be friends with someone who voted for the opposing party’s presidential candidate. But the real story here is how those findings break down along partisan lines:
5% of Republicans said they wouldn’t be friends with someone from the opposite party, compared to 37% of Democrats.
71% of Democrats wouldn’t go on a date with someone with opposing views, versus 31% of Republicans.
30% of Democrats — and 7% of Republicans — wouldn’t work for someone who voted differently from them.
This graphic sums up the findings:
Two points about this. First, it’s fair to say that, with the exception of dating, a majority of young Democrats don’t support shunning people with different opinions. So don’t assume this represents the entire party because it doesn’t, at least not yet.
Second, Axios suggests that the specter of Trump is hovering over these results. There may be some truth to that in the sense that college Democrats probably don’t recall much before Trump. That said, if you were around for Mitt Romney’s run for president (or John McCain’s run) then you know how quickly the left and the media can turn even marginally conservative figures into fire-breathing, vampire capitalists. So, no, I don’t think this is solely or even mostly about Trump.
What is it about? My take is that this says something pretty good about Republican college students who are wise enough to know that politics isn’t everything and something pretty bad about a lot of young Democrats. The people who make up those blue bar graphs are partisan scolds for whom politics is a kind of substitute religion. I think what we’re seeing here, very roughly, is a measure of the degree to which wokeism has taken over the party. As I’ve said before, it’s still a minority view, but one that is still growing.
You’d think it would be self-evident that shunning people you don’t know at all for having different opinions is a bad idea, one destined to create a progressive bubble. But today, over at New York magazine, Sarah Jones has a piece praising young Democrats based on the results of this poll:
With few exceptions, loving a Republican means loving someone who voted for Trump, twice, despite the racism and the COVID denial and the credible sexual-assault allegations. Even befriending a Republican involves a certain amount of tolerance, and tolerance is not always a virtue, as conservatives themselves have argued for decades.
Tolerance is possible only when a certain political equilibrium exists. That balance is nonexistent and will remain so as long as the GOP and the broader conservative movement cling to a set of invasive, exclusionary principles. As [conservative commentator Sarah] Isgur and other veterans of the Trump administration set out on their new careers, they owe much to our collective willingness to look the other way. They want impunity for themselves in public and in private. If young liberals are unwilling to give it to them and their supporters, that’s a good sign for the future.
Actually, no, it’s not a good sign that young liberals believe their views are so pure they can’t allow themselves to be tainted by friendship with someone who disagrees. Also, Republicans don’t want impunity because they don’t accept the premise that they’ve done something wrong. Again, we could talk about it or just retreat to the bubble. Sarah Jones clearly supports the latter and that’s too bad. I’m sure if she talked to a few people (not on Twitter but in real life) she might find at least some conservatives are pretty good people.
In any case, the good news is that the overwhelming majority of Republicans don’t seem intent on living in a partisan bubble refusing to acknowledge or befriend anyone who feels differently. If there’s any real hope for the future, that’s it.