we can and should be friends with our fellow citizens.
Friendship is personal. It presumes or aims at some commonality of interest. Although impersonal politics may yield liberty and equality, it does not produce fraternity or solidarity--goods that many of us prize.
What Voting Can't Do
People gain more agency in relational than in impersonal politics. In a presidential election in the United States, 100 million citizens may vote. Each voter exercises Archimedean leverage over the government, but very little of it--so little that rational-choice analysis suggests it is irrational to vote at all.
If agency is valuable, then people need spaces in which
primer to help anyone help revive Web of Relationships
civic life and restore citizens' role.
Further, research on social capital suggests that impersonal
forms of politics, such as representative democracy and market exchange, depend upon a web of constructive relationships among citizens. If anomie prevails, then impersonal forms of politics begin to break down as well as individuals withdraw their consent or cease to contribute to the public good.
Notwithstanding doleful examples of “office politics" and neighborly gossip, relational politics also opens possibilities for ethical interactions. If you know another person’s interests and values, you can try to honor them. Although some must lose when interests conflict, if the winners are ethical, they can mitigate the damage on people whom they view as friends.
Moral Growth Perhaps most importantly of all, we can learn from personal politics, seeing the world from other perspectives and enlarging our mentalities. To be sure, we can also learn from statistics and impersonal arguments, but the experience of actually interacting with another person on matters of common concern seems indispensable for moral growth.