Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real O'Clock: Politics

Every now and then here at the Grey Skies World Headquarters, we like to take it down a notch, from our usual wine-guzzling, Walking Dead-watching, geek con-going ways and get Real. If this were a rock concert, now would be the part where I sit atop a stool, mic in hand, spotlight on, and croon "Every Rose Has A Thorn" while swaying gently, like my depth and emotion are far too sincere to be contained by sitting still.

Get out your lighters (or cell phone screens), because it's about to get Real O'Clock all up in here.

Now that the Olympics are over but "Downton Abbey" hasn't started back up yet, we Americans are left with little else to do but talk politics. I've heard there's one of these "elections" coming up that the KidsTheseDays are all a-twitter about. 


Kidding, of course. I can't turn on my TV, open my laptop, or feed my baby without hearing about it. (My 5-month old baby, the Duke of Juban, has some rather strong opinions about campaign finance reform.) And aside from admitting that I think Ryan Paul is kinda hot in a weird white-boy sort of way, or reiterating my invite to the Obamas to come to my house for pasta and Tasti-D-Lite, I don't like to talk about politics.

I never have liked it, but lately I refuse to engage in political discussion. What's the point? Most of my friends, on both sides of any given issue, just like to repeat one-liners and soundbites, or post sad little FB memes with quotes taken out of context. 

From what I've seen, few people actually like to engage in an actual conversation about actual politics. Most people like to spew their opinions. You can either agree with them or not, but they really don't care. They say their piece and then shut their ears. Even people who consider themselves open-minded, or claim to listen to "both sides" before making up their minds, already have their minds made up. Having political discussions with most people I know is a pretty useless exercise in futility and frustration. I will never get my Conservative friends to admit that Obama is anything but a Socialist, secret Muslim, elitist tyrant who wants to take away their guns and force their daughters to have abortions, just like I will never hear my Liberal friends admit that Romney is anything but a Bible-beating, civil liberties-hating, gun-crazy pig who wants to turn American women into The Handmaid's Tale.

From Wikimedia Commons, author Cpl. Megan L. Stiner, 2004

Which brings me to my next point: political shorthand. To say that I am tired of people using this as a way to define anyone who doesn't agree with them is a woeful understatement. For the record, here are some terms, as well as things they are NOT synonyms for:

  • Liberal (or Progressive)
    • NOT a synonym for:
      • Tolerant
      • Open-minded
      • Non-racist
      • Gun-hating
      • Baby killing
      • Godless
      • Hippie
      • Elitist
      • Unpatriotic

  • Conservative
    • NOT a synonym for:
      • Ignorant
      • Gun toting
      • Racist
      • Misogynist
      • Religious
      • Rich
      • Patriot
      • Xenophobic

I'm a Liberal and I have Conservative friends. I know, but it's true! And sure, sometimes they post things on FB that make me roll my eyes, or sigh, or just scroll through. But here's the thing: they are people. They are my friends.

I still talk politics with people close to me. Sometimes the husband and I talk about things that are going on. But I refuse to engage in political discussion with others, especially on FB. I don't see this as irresponsible or unpatriotic or ignorant. I see it as saving my sanity. This doesn't mean I don't care about issues: I still give money to the charities and organizations I believe in, I still read, I still watch the news. I just don't want to talk about it much except with a few people I trust - including my Conservative best friend, Tia. I'm not sticking my head in the sand, I'm being selective.

What about you? Do you discuss politics, and if so, have you ever changed your mind or admitted you were wrong about a politician or an issue?


Charlie Barlow said...

I usually reserve my conversation to yelling at the TV during PBS Newshour or shouting 'right on' when Bill Moyers is on. I stay strictly away from polijargon, as a Bhuddist, my only terms are 'being in complete acceptance of the inevitable'.

deletable: (by the way, thanks for the review of Beringer Founders Estate Merlot, bought a bottle of 2009 at Fred Myers ((pacific northwest store)) list price $17.99, on sale $8.99-hard to argue that that is not a great policy!)

Meredith said...

I like your style. It baffles me when my more outwardly political friends post surprised statuses on FB when something happens, as if it's not all totally predictable.

Good find on the Beringer Founders Estate!