Politics and Friends

In a recent Facebook post, Alum Rock School District board member Darcie Green mused whether “in politics there are no permanent friends, just permanent interests.” The statement is an over-generalization and presupposes all friendships are based in political interests.

True friends can disagree but still support each other personally. The problem in politics occurs when that personal support is abandoned through betrayal, negligence or perceived self-interest, or for monetary reasons.

In addition, you can have friends who do not share any of your political values; but because of shared circumstances become your friend. In fact, conversations with people who completely agree with your all the time are generally very boring, not to mention rare.

But in politics, you never know who your friends are until you fail. People who still return your phone call and support you despite temporary defeat are few. But knowing who your friends are and being able to trust that they will be there, regardless of your circumstance, is worth the journey.

Fundamentally, friendships and political alliances are about trust. Former State Senator John Vasconcellos recognized this when he began The Politics of Trust, his personal legacy project. This 501c3 is dedicated to identifying and providing the remedy for our broken political system based on psychologist Carl Rogers’ observation that “human beings are innately inclined toward becoming life-affirming, constructive, responsible, trustworthy.”

Simply put, the theory and application work. It is not naive or simplistic. It is a fundamental change of the current political paradigm, and it calls upon individuals to live authentic lives and to incorporate that into the body politic, regardless of political persuasion.

This is not to say that one will not be disappointed by others; that betrayal, negligence, self-interest and monetary interest will not exist. But those who engage in cynical politics, who are not authentic and act for less than noble reasons are usually short-term players in the larger body politic. The most valuable coin of the realm in politics is integrity.

People who keep their word, even if you disagree with them, are far more likely to be a friend, than a pretender. And in the final analysis, the pretenders ultimately have no friends.


Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


    • The error was mine, not Ms. Green’s—she was clear on her post that she was not taking “credit”.  That said, I didn’t know it was DeGaulle—Chuck didn’t have many friends for a reason.  wink