Released by Pew Research, Thursday, the numbers show that Republicans are four times more likely to have close friends who are Republicans, as they are to have close friends who are Democrats. It's worse on the Left, where Democrats are nearly 7.5 times more likely to have close friends who are Democrats, than they are close friends who are Republican.
This is bad news for American society.
After all, our friends are those whose opinions we're most likely to listen to and find value in. But if we're cocooning ourselves in a political echo chamber of common agreement and absent introspection, we're far less likely to respect alternative viewpoints. While the partisanship of the 2016 election likely played a role here, I think the roots of our social partisanship run deeper. In the end, we're just too arrogant: we believe we know best and we don't want to hear otherwise.
But listening to and respecting those we disagree with is the only way to find more consensus. The only way, put simply, to improve the state of American unity.
Still, there is one somewhat amusing element to the data. Namely, the fact that conservatives seem more tolerant of those with different viewpoints than liberals! While only 31 percent of Democrats have "a lot" or "some" close friends who are Republican, 39 percent of Republicans have "a lot" or "some" close friends who are Democrats. A small difference yes, but a statistically significant one nonetheless.
Ultimately, we don't need to speak less, we just need to listen more. A good solution? Try going on a date with someone who you disagree with. I did, once, and it was quite fun.