I have a public blog where I like to express myself and share my passions. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, then you know I enjoy sharing various aspects of my life with people whom I choose. Politics, however, is something that I prefer to keep private, but I do have something to say about the way people go about it when they do choose to disclose their opinions.
First of all, let’s get something clear. No one, regardless of whom they’re voting for, wants to see the demise of America. When we can start thinking that way, only then can we have intelligent and respectful discussions regarding these issues without resorting to name-calling and mean-spirited discourse that everyone seems to think is acceptable when it comes to their political stance —more on this later.
Secondly, you are a constellation of your beliefs, opinions, experiences, feelings, and values. Don’t insult your identity as a unique individual by reducing your thoughts to a single word, be it Democrat or Republican. Of course we often identify with one or the other more strongly, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that either party automatically represents everything you believe in as an individual. Do your research. Have an open mind. Be willing to vote for someone who isn’t in your party but who you believe represents your values more closely. Hopefully you have done enough research to realize that you do not necessarily agree with everything your candidate stands for. But you are voting based on the unique beliefs and opinions that I mentioned earlier and your prioritization of those values.
Next, give others the same latitude. See others as individuals who have their own beliefs and opinions which they have prioritized as they see fit. They may be voting for the opposing candidate for reasons that you don’t necessarily oppose. And even if you do, they are still individuals that possess the same rights to opinions you enjoy and who do not want to see the demise of America any more than you do. Of course we know there are always people who blindly vote for a candidate based solely on their political party, gender, race, religion, etc. (and hopefully you’re not one of those people), but giving others the benefit of the doubt will enable us to have truly productive discussions around these topics.
Which brings me to my next point —stop the name-calling. Just stop it. I try to avoid my Facebook feed on the nights of the debates, because I know I’ll see things that I wish I hadn’t. This mean-spirited discourse closes ourselves off to objectivity and honest feedback from other people. This can also leave us in the trap of subscribing to faulty political logic. How do you spot this? If it’s a sentence or two that fits on a less-than-flattering picture of a candidate that has been shared on Facebook, it’s faulty logic. It’s name-calling. It’s mean-spirited. It’s drawing attention away from the real issues that we should be pondering this close to the election.
If you were hoping to see a post in which I endorse the candidate I’m voting for, I’m sorry to disappoint you. For the record, I’m registered as an Independent. But I think that this post needed to be written. After all, regardless of who wins the election, we are all still Americans. Rather than identifying with the donkey or the elephant, remember the bald eagle.