Thursday, August 9, 2012

In Which I Am Briefly Political

This is going to be a post about politics. Well, sort of. I’d been thinking about writing this for awhile, but reading this blog post yesterday and having a lengthy conversation with my friend Tessa Gratton really solidified my desire. The blog post was about whether or not readers want/ care to hear about authors’ politics. The conversation with Tessa was about politics and what really changes people’s minds. This post I’m writing now isn’t really about either of those things. But they were the catalyst for it.

I used to love politics. It was back when I was a kid, when the only correct politics, to my way of thinking, were the ones my parents held. So politics wasn’t so much a thought process as a sporting event. Throw some money behind the home team and hope they cross the finish first! Whoo! Sit back and wait 2-4 years for the next match. But now that I have reached puberty and formed my own political philosophies, politics holds absolutely no joy. In particular, I despise the election season. I’m not sure if I’ve changed or if politics have. Or if I can just blame Facebook. But somewhere along the way, I’ve become convinced that the vast majority of political dialogue is unproductive at best and destructive at worst.

I’m perfectly aware that for the next several months, the internet will be consumed by divisive, partisan commentary, name-calling, and lots and lots and lots of generalizations.

I don’t want to post about my politics on my blog. What I’d like to post about, though, is how we look at politics. I’d like to offer a plea to the internet. I wish that Americans would view the election season not as a win/lose scenario, but rather, as an opportunity to become educated about all of the problems and issues facing our country at the moment. I wish that instead of immediately identifying ourselves as an automatic supporter of one party or another, we’ll step outside the boxes and look at all possible solutions. I wish we’d look at ways to not make half of the country miserable for the next four years, depending on who wins the election. Does every election have to feel like either victory or failure? Does everything have to be either/ or?

I would be quite happy if, going forward, the following phrases never appeared in political discussions: bleeding heart, Bible-thumping, fascists, tree-huggers.

I would be quite happy if people stopped thinking that politics gives you permission to hate someone.

I would be quite happy if politics became less of a club and more of a tool.

I would be quite happy if politics became less about proving to the world who you are and more about actually changing the world for the better.

I have friends on both sides of the political divide (actually, I prefer to think about it as all over the political spectrum, as things have never been and will never be black and white/ this party or that party), and I don’t have a problem with it. Because my friends’ political beliefs are the results of passion and thoughtfulness, not hatred, fear, stereotyping, or generalizations.

So this is not a post about politics, really. It’s about being civil. It’s about making decisions based upon facts, not fear. It’s about making the election season a country-changing experience, not just good late-night TV.
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