It doesn’t matter to Paulette Gunn who her friends are voting for; it matters why they are voting for whom they choose.
“When there’s an actual choice, a very clear-cut choice, and you are choosing someone of a party that is more or less demonized morally, then I guess I would have to just kind of reassess my level of friendship,” Gunn said.
While she and her friends don’t spend a lot of time talking about politics, she is willing to offer advice and thoughts if someone comes to her with questions or concerns. For the most part, Gunn feels they all feel the same way about things.
“I think, in my life, my friendships with these people are much more important than what’s going on in the country,” Gunn said. “And they are entitled, this is America, we’re free. They can have whatever opinions they would like to have. And I’ll have my opinion, and my opinion is strong, and I have some friends that have some very strong opinions that are contrary to mine. It’s just that when we get together, we have other more interesting things we want to talk about.”
For Gunn, the most important issue is abortion. If one of her friends were to support Planned Parenthood, or advocate for federal funding for Planned Parenthood, she would have to reconsider being their friend.
“I think that would cross a line for me, be something of a moral issue that is just so important to me, I don’t think I could sustain a friendship,” Gunn said. “I wouldn’t have any hatred for that person, I wouldn’t bomb their house or anything like that, but I would have to pull away because that would say to me that they are of a different culture, a culture that I just cannot accept. And therefore, how can you have a friendship?”
Gina Butkovich was among seven journalists who participated with Ohioans in October in Your Voice Ohio online dialogues to gain understanding of concerns people have in the 2020 election. She is a reporter in the Collaborative News Lab at Kent State University and managing editor of KentWired. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is one in a series of stories on issues Ohioans say are most important in this election year. More than 50 news outlets are collaborating in the project under the umbrella of Your Voice Ohio, the nation’s largest sustained, statewide news media collaborative. In five years, Your Voice Ohio has brought more than 100 journalists together with more than 1,300 Ohioans for discussions on addiction, the economy and elections. Your Voice Ohio is managed and coordinated by the Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic engagement organization. The project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and Facebook. The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes designs and facilitates the dialogues and digital forums. Retired Akron Beacon Journal managing editor Doug Oplinger directs the media work and can be reached at email@example.com.