This Week in the Mayonnaise Clinic: Must I Leave My Anti-Vax Partner?
Plus: The problem with the SF Board of Education wasn't incompetence.
If it’s Wednesday, it’s the Mayonnaise Clinic! I have some thoughts today about the successful San Francisco school board recall.
But first, a letter writer who wishes to remain anonymous — I’ll call her Andrea — has a question about her relationship with her partner, and politically mixed marriages more generally:
I live in a divided household. My partner leans right. He's anti-vax (and getting more extreme about it by the day) and I'm a quiet but dedicated progressive — not crazy about Covid restrictions, but not freaking out about them either.
I have kids with my partner, and he is a good person. While I am disturbed by his rants of late, I am not about to break up our household over his YouTube choices and apparent lust for content from Tucker Carlson and Dan Bongino. I did not want to break up with him over his Trump support either. Some friends and family think I am on the wrong track with this.
I anecdotally hear of other people in the same boat, but I do not hear this issue addressed in the media. One time on the Political Gabfest, I heard a statistic mentioned about how decades years ago, it was much more common to have a marriage with two people from different parties. Today it is far less likely to have a marriage with different parties.
Is this a good thing for democracy, I wonder? Or is it bad that the political divisiveness is now demonstrably/measurably permeating households and families?
Politically mixed marriages aren’t the norm, but they’re not exactly rare either: in 2016, the political scientists Eitan Hersh and Yair Ghitza estimated that 9% of marriages in the US were between a Republican and a Democrat, which means something like 10 million Americans are making a cross-party marriage work, or at least were doing so six years ago.1 I haven’t seen great time-series data on politically mixed marriages, but there are some indications that they’ve become more fraught over the decades, including polls finding an increasing share of people saying they’d be upset if their child married someone of a particular political party.
I am less keen on mixed-ideology marriages than Andrea or I think a lot of other readers would expect. It’s not that people should never be with someone they disagree with politically or ideologically. I just think the conditions to make that work are challenging, and won't always be achievable.
Here are three questions I’d ask about a relationship between two people with very different political viewpoints, such as Andrea and her partner (whom I’ll call Alphonse):