I care a lot about politics. I was even, for a very brief moment, a political science minor in college (then I decided I cared even more for dead governments than living ones and switched to History, but that’s another story). I have followed this presidential campaign rabidly, refreshing CNN.com every few minutes to see results on election days and reading every article about the candidates and the race I can find.
And yet, you will not hear me talk much about which candidates or issues I support.
I am deeply uncomfortable with the crazy talk that so often accompanies political discussion. The phrase “I’ll move to Canada if ________ is elected” is so overused I don’t even register it at this point. Facebook is full of groups called “One Million Strong for/against ________.” (As if clicking the “join” button is going to do a thing; do you think they’ll print out the list of one million names and mail it to the candidate as proof that they should just drop out of the race now?) (Also, you show me five people in the USA who move out of the country in November solely because C/M/O is made president, and I’ll eat my shorts).
I would never dream of telling someone who they ought to vote for. Because a candidate is not a yes or no answer. No candidate is all good or all bad. The reason you aren’t voting for Clinton/McCain/Obama is probably not the reason the lady in front of you is voting for them. And even if you feel the same about a lot of issues, you may rank them in a different order of importance.
The idea that someone else is a total moron simply because they support a different candidate is nonsense. And I’m tired of hearing that.
Jennie wrote a post recently where she mentioned an interaction in the parking lot of her voting location where she discovered that she and an old cowboy were both supporting the same candidate. It was a short little paragraph at the end of a post about something else, but it’s stuck with me all week for one reason: she was able to state what candidate she was voting for without making me wince or wish she’d just avoided the topic. And that is one of the few times I’ve ever seen that happen.
Just today, someone told me at the length how evil the candidate is that I plan to vote for. This person surely had no idea where my political tent is pitched, and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to embarrass them. But it certainly reaffirmed to me how careful I want to be about what I say about a candidate – either one I support or one I loathe – to someone whose political views are a mystery to me. I am not going to assume that, because you are a reasonable and intelligent person, you and I will agree on who will be the best president.
Maybe you feel it’s your political duty to convert your friends, family, and neighbors to your candidate or issue. Maybe you can do it in an unoffensive way or a way that doesn’t imply they are a bit stupid for not agreeing with you. But I don’t see that very often.
So I don’t have a bumper sticker or a yard sign or a pin. My political conversations revolve mostly around funny stories about any of the candidates. I won’t tell you to vote for the same person I’m voting for.
I’ll just show up at my local polling place in November and vote for
(Oh please, you didn’t really think I was going to tell you, after all of that, did you?)