Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Real Talk With Rachel: Awkward Elections, Awkward Relationships

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I don’t know who is going to win the elections next week (Rachel’s note: this letter was sent before the elections occurred last night), but I do know one thing -- there is no way everyone in my family is going to be happy. My parents are pretty conservative and are really excited about Mitt Romney. I agreed with their political beliefs when I was younger but now that I graduated from college I have my own opinions.

I tried to keep my views to myself but they saw photos of me on Facebook with a Gary Johnson T-shirt. That is who I think would be the best president and I said I would be voting for him. They said that I was wasting my vote on a third-party candidate and that it would be my fault if Obama wins. I want to vote for who I believe in. Otherwise, that’s a wasted vote to me.

I know they’re going to ask me who I voted for and I don’t know if I should just lie to them to keep the peace. And is it my fault if Mitt Romney loses?

A Not-So-Secret Ballot

Dear A Not-So-Secret Ballot,

Before we go further, please change your Facebook privacy settings. I can’t tell you how many times people have inadvertently tipped off family and friends about secrets they’d rather keep private via social media accounts. It’s fine to broadcast your political views online (so long as you remain respectful of others), but if you do, others will be able to see them.

Regarding your larger predicament, though, we should further parse through what it means to “waste” a vote. While all of you want to vote for the candidate you believe in, your parents have a luxury you don’t -- their candidate of choice had a viable shot of winning the presidency (though we now know it didn’t work out for him). Meanwhile, your candidate’s goal was to reach five percent of the popular vote -- nowhere near enough to move into the White House.

If you choose to vote for a third-party candidate, you won’t be surprised if he or she doesn’t make a victory speech on Election Day. However, you may have a longer-term goal in mind. Perhaps you want to signal that business as usual in Washington should change, or that our political system should move beyond the two-party systems.

The beauty of our democracy is that these are perfectly legitimate reasons to vote. It’s a shame that your parents don’t respect your right to exercise your vote as you please. I heard Ralph Nader at Busboys and Poets express his continuing surprise, more than a decade after the 2000 elections, that he was called a spoiler. “Why,” he asked, “did Al Gore deserve those votes if people wanted to vote for me instead?”

In the same way, you cannot be blamed for Mitt Romney’s loss. Considering your openness to conservativism in general, I am sure you considered his views and promises during the campaign. Ultimately, you were more swayed by another candidate. And as we now know, you weren’t the only one.

If you lie to your parents about who you voted for to keep the peace,
you’re going to find yourself in the same situation in four years. Don’t let them impose their political views on you, or otherwise force yourself to lie for their sake. Just tell them that your vote is secret, and that it’s none of their business. Then change the subject.



Dear Rachel,

My best friend has been dating a guy for six months. He always seemed kind of sleazy to me, but I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t think it would last. It’s getting more serious and now I don’t know if I should say something. He talks down to her a lot and rolls his eyes when she tries to say almost anything. But when she talks about him to me, it’s like there’s a total disconnect between what she thinks and how he acts.

I know all the stories about alienating friends when you tell them what you think about your significant others and I don’t want that to happen. My friend is awesome and she deserves a guy who will treat her right, and this guy definitely isn’t someone who will do that.

Afraid of Being the Voice of Reason

Dear Afraid of Being the Voice,

I’m interested in why you think you’re the voice of reason here. After all, you’re not a part of this relationship. I know you have your friend’s best interests at heart here. But you’re always going to be missing a piece of the puzzle, because most of their relationship occurs when you’re not around.

Something I’ve found difficult is understanding how the people we love can fall for people who we just...don’t love. It sounds like your friend is really happy right now, though. Maybe the bubble will burst and she will realize what a jerk this guy is. Or maybe, the eye-rolling pales in comparison to his other sterling qualities.

As you wait for this to sort itself out, try and move beyond your first impression of this guy. After all, if your awesome friend is enamored, he must have a couple of good qualities. Seek them out when you spend time together.

Don’t make your friend split herself in half. Be positive and supportive, so that if he truly is an ass, he has no excuses.



Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via or send an email to advice @

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