I’ve had it.
This political season is about to push me over the edge. I think a lot of you, based on conversations I’ve had, feel the same way.
Let’s get a few things straight.
I am a complex person. I believe in a certain set of values and ethics that I learned from my parents. My life is guided by this moral compass they so lovingly instilled. I am a product of my parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, church and friends. I found independence in college where I forged my own path, separate from these founding mothers and fathers, and began the evolution of my own, independent thought. There were hard lessons learned about friendship, business, the gray fog that lives between the stark contrasts of right and wrong, along the way as I married, moved and began a career. These people, experiences and situations all worked to forge the person I am today and my current city, neighborhood, friends, colleagues, children and present set of challenges provide me the opportunity to continue to evolve as a person and in my thought process.
You are a complex person. I can’t conceive of what has happened in your life, what events have shaped you, influenced you and otherwise created the uniqueness that is you. I just know that we are friends. We are two complex people with enough similar interests to be writing and then reading this same piece of html space in the world. I respect our differences, hope to learn from your set of experiences in the same way I hope I can share what I have gleaned through life and together we can form a crooked puzzle piece of our relationship to add to the picture of humanity.
The world is a complex place. There are difficult problems and very few straightforward answers. There are a myriad of circumstances that make any one solution work for me and not work for you, or vice versa. There are entities that want the best for us and entities that want the best for themselves. And it’s often difficult to figure out the difference, particularly when it comes to leadership where power can often blur vision and confuse priorities.
Now that we can all agree on the above set of complexities, let’s get down to brass tacks.
I identify with a particular political party. It’s on my voter registration. But, it does not define me nor does it define my vote.
Growing up, we watched the news during dinner. My parents openly discussed the news of the day in front of my sister and me. I did not necessarily know at the time which political party my parents identified with because it wasn’t how we talked “back then.” But I do remember my mom’s pride when Mondale chose Ferraro as a running mate and how excited, in turn, I was as an 8 year old girl that a woman was on the ticket. I remember waiting for President Reagan to arrive in our hometown and being so excited to see him. I remember my father’s outrage when my grandfather tried to get his goat by announcing he was going to vote for Perot.
And I remember each and every election day asking my parents who they voted for. And they never, not once, told me.
“It’s a personal decision,” my father would say. My sister and I would spend that meal trying to guess. Putting forth our arguments as to why we thought he would vote one way or she would vote the other and my dad would just sit back and smile. I imagine it probably amused him that we were having to think and articulate our positions in order to guess. At the end of the meal, however, that smile would simply be irritatingly enigmatic to my sister and me as we still had no certain idea who they had pulled the lever for.
Now, however, we seem to wear our political affiliations on our chests like we do our favorite team sweatshirts. Facebook has created a culture where not only can you share your opinion, but you can tell others they are wrong for having theirs. It’s often contentious, rarely productive, conversations that result. And this is on both sides.
I have no problem with someone posting an article about a particular election issue and offering their insight into why one side might have a better solution. Those posts, however, seem to be fewer and farther between the simply incendiary ones posted with little to know explanation other than “my guy is better than your guy” or the even better “how could anyone vote for *this* guy?”
I read one of these in my timeline today, hence this diatribe. Post something informative. Don’t tell me, show me. Make me take a step back to think on an issue and how it might affect someone other than myself because the fact of the matter is, I only walk in my own shoes and see things through my own eyes. Make me see something new.
Instead the tone is of superiority and condescension. It’s ugly and mean and I don’t need an acquaintance from college to insinuate I’m dumb for my beliefs because that’s insulting me and the village of people and experiences that formed me. And frankly, I may identify with a particular political party, but I do actually look at the totality of a candidate and decide who best matches my priorities.
Because I am more than a D or an R. I am a woman, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a worker, a Catholic, a helper, a friend, a neighbor and a citizen. And if you look at me differently once you know which side of the fence I tend to sit on, then that says more about you than me, doesn’t it?
The fact of the matter is we are all in this together. I have no doubt that both candidates truly have the best intentions for this nation at heart. You can’t malign their motives. Their plans, sure. But their morals and motivation? How could you possibly know? How could you possibly presume?
So, please, don’t presume you know me based on my voter registration.
I am a complex person.