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 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?)

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  • Reply Gretchen March 13, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Great post. I feel the same way. I can be such an opinionated person in some ways that I think it often surprises people how reluctant I am to discuss politics in public. That’s something I save for late night discussions with M. Not because we always agree, but rather because we’re always respectful of each other and I know he won’t hate me for my opinions. I wish everyone could be “cool” about that stuff.

  • Reply TheMoncurs March 13, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    But now I really want to know!!

  • Reply Heather March 14, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Oh, I’d betcha that lemon raspberry angelfood cake that I know who you’ll vote for. But I won’t leave it in the comments so I don’t spoil it for everybody else. How did it turn out for you, by the by?

    Great post.

  • Reply Whitney March 14, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    It bugs me how people try to push their opinions on you. Like you said, everyone feels that different issues are more important than others. That’s why we live in a free and democratic country. We Vote to decide what is more important at the time!
    This was a really good post, I don’t know who I want to vote for, I need to do more research! But you’re probably wise to not say who you want to. Some people just might not agree and that might cause problems, :O!

  • Reply Becca and Ty March 14, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    you make me laugh. I’m quite public about where I pitch my political tent, simply because politics get scarier by the day and I think people should vote for candidates, not rock stars. Sadly, in my opinion, none of the remaining three are the kind of candidate I’d want, I’ve kinda given up.

    but you still make me laugh. 🙂

  • Reply Lara March 14, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Amenamenamen. So much hostility in politics these days… even though I watch the debates and intently look for updates on polls and such as well. People are just so forceful about their opinions… as if it’ll change your mind about who to vote for.
    Anyway, all I have to say is you’d better be voting for ____________ or I won’t read your blog ever again.

  • Reply She Likes Purple March 14, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Politics are so tricky. People argue to hear themselves talk and to sound smart more often than not. It’s personal and it’s NEVER black and white.

  • Reply audrey March 14, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    “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.”

    This is so true. When I first learned that my husband had different political leanings than me, it surprised me. But I think dating and then marrying a person who’s got a different letter than me on their voter registration card has opened my mind to a side of politics that I might have missed out on otherwise. I like our bi-partisan marriage. We tend to meet in the middle on most issues, and those we disagree on lead to more interesting dinner topics.

  • Reply Kristy March 14, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Oh YES, Janssen. You are so right. In general I just try to keep my mouth shut, too, because people can be so DUMB and so MEAN, even if they agree with me. It’s a lost art: political discussion without personal insult.

  • Reply tarsi210 March 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    It’s very difficult around my area to discuss politics in a rational, calm way since folks here tend to be so rabidly conservative that they take personal offense if you possibly suggest that there are alternate viewpoints to be had.

    So, I pick my battles, but I do try to express on occasion what I think about the various candidates. I don’t agree with not saying anything — after all, having dialogs about the issues and the people is how you sway those without a good, firm opinion into having one, or at least, listening to other ideas. I do not, however, advocate getting all emotional about it and being upset if someone doesn’t see it the way you do…that’s just stupid.

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