If you want a friendly conversation turn nasty fast, switch the subject to politics.
Politics, like religion, has become one of those topics that can strain marriages, end friendships, alienate co-workers and turn civility into a shouting match.
Some say politics today is much nastier than the old days.
Even the founding fathers got nasty when it came to political disagreement. In 1804, a history of political animosity between Vice President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton ended in a duel at Weehawken, New Jersey, where Burr shot and mortally wounded the former Treasury Secretary.
Dueling was legal in those days but Hamilton’s death sparked movements to end the practice.
Hamilton was a fierce political opponent. In a debate with Thomas Jefferson he called the third President of the United States “the father of the mulatto race.”
The American political system owes much of its existence, of course, to Britain, where political debates often turn nasty. Political opponents William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli often clashed on the floor of Parliament.
In one exchange, Gladstone told Disraeli that “you, sire, shall die of on the gallows or of venereal disease.”
To which Disraeli replied: “That, sir, depends on whether I embrace your politics…or your mistress.”
So while today’s debate may seem nasty, at least we haven’t returned to duels…yet.