Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm Not Trying to Convince You of Anything, Promise.

In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.
- Thich Nhat Hanh

I've had a lot on my mind lately, as I'm sure you do.

I've lost sleep, worried myself sick, and anxiously bit my nails to nubbins.

We're all (around here, anyway) engaged in the election and have been watching the same debates, the same news coverage, and the same TV ads. And, yet, we're more divided than ever.

I have friends and family planted firmly on both sides of the political divide, so I hear both complain about and mock the other "side" - and as many others ave lamented, the fact that there are "sides" and we (to have any real chance of our candidate being elected) have to choose between two extremes is insane, anyway.

Whoever gets elected, I don't think our country will go to hell- despite emails, blog posts, videos, and websites I've read that insist otherwise. My dad claims that Barack is a terrorist who will make our country socialist and all freedom will be lost; while my coworker maintains that McCain doesn't care about the poor or the rest of the world.

Being Catholic only further exacerbates the divide - some Catholics ascribe to the One Catholic Way to Vote philosophy, and contend that a vote for Barack is a vote for violence against innocent babies. Other Catholics assert that a vote for McCain is a vote against Catholic Social Teaching.

These positions worry me - not because people disagree, but because of the way they disagree and the way that leads them to treat others.

And it saddens me so. Because I truly want to have a dialogue where we all respectfully discuss what is important to us, what excites us, why we're voting for X, what we hope for the future, and so on - without automatically assuming that someone who is voting for the other guy is an idiot who doesn't care about ______ (fill in: America, terrorists, babies, freedom, homosexuals, etc.).

When I've tried to have an honest and open dialogue with the "other side" this year, I've ended up being shouted at and cried into my ice cream sundae at Friendly's. No joke. That's hard to recover from.

I think the root of much of my frustration is that I feel as though people cling to political parties more than they consider candidates and issues. My 17-year-old cousin proclaimed on Facebook that she's "a [major political party]. Deal with it." People cheered her on: "Yeah! Proclaim it, girl!"

Wha-ha? How can someone, at such a young age - make that kind of weighted decision? To limit your views to a political party when you are 17 years old? That worries me. We're getting to be more polarized earlier and earlier - we're teaching our kids to see the world through our eyes instead of encouraging them to develop their own opinion at all.

Or as one of my friends would say, "Who wants to raise sheep!?"

Sure, it's much easier to just vote how your parents voted. To not examine the issues and to take other people's word for it. Examining and wrestling with issues is hard work. (It's easy to get sidetracked by the crazy 24 hour media circuits - but we've seemed to have forgotten about issues and pretend the candidates are celebrities worthy of gossip and stalking.) As will show - both candidates are misleading like crazy and NEITHER is perfect.
That's hard to swallow - for both sides.

This isn't meant to be a political rant or a "VOTE FOR OBAMA/MCCAIN!" post - merely a "How the heck did we get so darn polarized? And how do we make it stop?"

I, for one, pledge to never, ever vote based on party line. I'll examine each and every candidate I vote for.

Please, lovely, wonderful commenters - play nice if you want to say something, okay? Mwah.


  1. This is very nicely written.

    I grew up believing in one party because my parents believed in it. When my first chance to vote came in 2000, I voted for someone from a third party for president on principal even though I knew that person wouldn't win (I knew it wouldn't effect the outcome in my state).

    Through the years, I've meandered away from my parents' politics, and carved a niche of my own. The funny thing is, as I've come into my own, my parents' views have evolved to more or less align with my own. It's refreshing, and I appreciate that they are willing to talk politics with me without judgment--and they have a lot of wisdom to share, having spent time on both sides of the divide. It's sad that not everyone can/will have an open dialog like that.

  2. wonderfully worded ashley.

    i 100% agree with you. there are too many 'sheep' out there, just following the political pathways their parents, or friends have created for them.

    it's so easy to get lost in all the mumble-jumble that gets spewed out around election time, but it is more than worth it to invest some time into discovering which party really represents the changes you want to see in your country.

    most people know that not every country is like america, or canada, where you actually get to VOTE on who is going to be your leader, but i don't think many of those people really know how important this is, on an international scale.

    so once again, nicely done little miss.

  3. Awww I loved this post! When you were twittering I was scared it was going to be a "this is why everyone should be voting for X post."

    I'm not into all the politics stuff, and I am not a part of one of the sides. I hate listening to the biased media. Whether that's one side or another, I hate listening to both of them. It's just constant bashing. I'll form my own opinion based on my own beliefs and facts about the candidates thank you very much!

    While my parents very much support one candidate, they make it clear that they would support the other side if they actually liked/believed he would be a good president. So I don't really have to deal with that. I'm sorry you have to, that's just silly.

  4. "I've lost sleep, worried myself sick, and anxiously bit my nails to nubbins."

    Me too.

    This is a great post!

  5. I really do agree with you. Completely. I wish that everyone saw the world as us girls do. Then we'd have one pretty awesome world <3

  6. I both agree with you wholeheartedly (on the need for charity) and disagree with you wholeheartedly (on the way you're voting as well as what seem to be your political priorities). Weird how that can happen, huh?

    I'm not sure if you read my Faith & Family blog, but I've already said over there what I'd like to say here, so I'll just post links for you if that's okay.

    I've written about the need for charity in political discussion (here), and I truly believe that needs to be our first priority.

    I've also written about why I'm voting the way I am here.

    And I'm really glad we can talk about these things in a civil way! America really is a great country like that.

  7. This is a really great post. I think it's important to show how divided people have become as the election draws closer.

  8. Hm, I think your dad and my dad would get along really well. In all honesty, I think all men (and women?) over a certain age think that the world is going to hell in a handbasket in every generation since the beginning of time. I'm still tearing my hair out over who I should vote for, but all I know is that whoever wins, I'll always do my part to maintain my own beliefs while remaining respectful of the office and the people whose opinions may differ from my own.

  9. Oh, also, I agree that the doomsday-scenario people are a little extreme... presidential candidates always talk about doing way more than they'll actually be able to accomplish in office. And it's supposed to be that way - that's why we have checks and balances!

    However, I do think that McCain voters (especially pro-lifers, yikes) have a lot more to fear in this election than Obama voters if the other side wins, simply because the new president will definitely be working with a Democratic Congress, meaning it will be fairly easy for Obama to get things done and almost impossible for McCain to do so.

  10. Does that pledge mean you do all the research on all the judges, mayoral candidates, congress people, etc.... The whole ballot? Every time there is a vote?

  11. Unfortunately, Politics and Religion bring out the worst in people, which is why I don't discuss them on my blog. I talk in generalities and the people who know me know where I stand.

    I have friends and relatives on both sides of the fence, so I try to be respectful.

    Please don't tell me how to vote, worship, or think...and I will treat you with the same respect.

    What really irks me are those people who try to force their religious views on the public at large. They have the right to their own religious views, but they don't have the right to forcefeed it onto others. What they forget is that the person standing next to them has the EXACT same right to the EXACT opposite view. And, you know what?

    They're BOTH right. How's that for tricky??

    I always try to take the stance of how it would make me feel if the roles were reversed. How would I feel if I were treated that way? What is really gained by that?

    The Founding Fathers knew enough to keep religion out of the constitution, and I'm very thankful for that.

    Both my hubby and I are registered Independent (Unaffiliated, depending on the terminology), and yes, I do evaluate each amendment and referendum and judge's record before casting my vote. Our state makes it very easy to do that by sending out a Study Guide of sorts published by a neutral third party.

    The most important thing to do is vote. Not voting is really a vote for the person you don't want.

    Just my humble opinion. Thanks for letting me share. :)

  12. Wow. Sorry my comment was so long! I didn't realize that until I posted it!

  13. Heidi Renee: Wow, how luck are you?! I wish more than anything that my parents and I could get along's tough.

    Heartbreaker: I love how engaged you are, even in OUR election. You make me smile.

    Alyssa: I know the "Vote for X!" posts turn away half the people, and the other half just chime in with "Yeah!" and "Woooo!" Not much dialogue going on there.

    Allie: I think I'll have an election ulcer!

    Peas: I love you.

    Arwen: I do think being a loving Christian can take a backseat to our politics. What's going to happen after November when all these people are attacking one another viciously? It worries me...

    Bayjb: Oh, I know. It scares the CRAP out of me, to be honest.

    Wickedly Scarlett: Seriously - and the fear tactics? Don't sit so well with me, sorry Dad. :)

    Eileen: That's the goal!

    Momma: I also try to put myself in another's shoes. Like: How would I feel if my child held what I felt to be "wrong" political opinions? Would I be heartbroken?

  14. Oh my goodness this election is driving me BANANAS.

    I picked who I was voting for almost two years ago. I mean, even before he was running! I met his top adviser in an airport (random) and wouldn't stop YAMMERING and kept telling him to relay the message that he should run for President. I mean, I was insistent.

    And here we are -- 2.5 years later and I still stand by what I said then.

    To be honest? I've lost "friendships" over this election.

    Know how?

    Because they kept sending me crap about Barrack being a terrorist and I flipped my lid.

    That kind of crap is AGAINST THE LAW. I think people forget that.

    And it's sick.

    But who's to be prosecuted? Who the heck even knows who started that slander campaign?!

  15. Ashley, your heart is in the right place. I have a feeling that even if your child has a differing view from yours, you two will be able to have a rational discussion about it. The key is to instill the values you hold deep, lead by example, and then let your child be the independent voter you've raised him or her to be.

    I remember a time when Democrats, Republicans and Independents could have hearty discussions, wild debates, and still laugh and joke with each other when it was over.

    Hopefully we can have that again.

    When you boil it down, we all want the same thing: safety, security, and a chance to raise our families the way we see fit.

  16. this was a great post!!!

    And i know exactly what you mean - i've been so crazed lately I've bit all my nails off too :(

  17. Great post Ash! Very diplomatic and well thought out. I can't promise my post is going to be so eloquent or that I'm not going to talk about why the opposition is SCARING me... It is crazy how politics are so divisive -- I'm lucky in that my parents and John share my views as do many of my coworkers and friends -- lucky as in politics is fun for us, that we can send each other political articles all day long and say "YEAH!" or "HAHA" to them ... obviously this is easier than having engaging conversation about different view points but it's still pretty entertaining. Whoa, this is totally a run on thought. Ah! Usually with friends on the "other side" we just don't talk politics. Except for the time John and I tried to convince my bestie to vote Obama. haha. I don't think it worked. So now we're back to no political talk. It's easier that way. Ok, sorry that is comment is CRAZY!

  18. ugh, politics in general just make me want to stab myself.

  19. i'll echo everyone's comments. great post. I too, get concerned about the polarizing nature of politics. And it seems 100x worse in this election.

  20. I agree with Maegen, and would like to echo that politics make me want to stab myself. Heehee.

    This is a well written post, though - thanks for sharing your views and concerns! Although I like to stay away from political topics in my blog, I do enjoy reading the opinions of those I respect. And you are definitely one of those people. :)

  21. I really appreciate what you have to say. A member of my small group from church just sent a video slamming Obama as a baby killer. This email was followed quickly by another member of the group declaring her vote now changed. I'm tired of the one-issue voting. I'm tired of the focus being more on money that issues. I want a perfect candidate, or, as you quote in your post, one who is willing to change!

  22. I love you for this post. Seriously. I feel the same way, and I agree about wanting to have a civil discussion of politics.

    It breaks my heart whenever people voting whoever are generalized. And it makes me angry when people turn their backs on a candiate because of something along the same lines.

    Nice work!

  23. Hi Ashely, thanks for your posting on my blog, The Milk.

    In my comment back to you, I wrote that you couldn't have posted at a better time.

    Just yesterday, I had to growl at family members urging me to "vote for life." To be honest, I'd sooner write Jesus Christ on the ballot than vote for either candidate.

    I'm really not this snide. Elections make me this way.

  24. This was a FABULOUS post. I have been thinking these exact same thoughts. My 1st grade daughter is about to have an election at school. We sat her down and explained to her why we were voting for who we were voting for. And why we were chosing to not be ugly towards either party. I can't stand how politics make people so rude.

    Way to go. I'm putting your article on my blog. Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!

  25. I feel like you just wrote everything I've been thinking for the past few months. Great post!

  26. I feel the same way, Ashley. Seriously. It's crazy how politics can mould relationships & intimidate other people. That's why I choose not to speak about politics to people; not even my family really. I just don't like debating. & some people get really hardcore about things like this & I am not one of them...

  27. I really Completely truly and totally agree with you.

  28. I feel the same way, Allie, Seriously, truly and totally "I've lost sleep, worried myself sick, and anxiously bit my nails to nubbins."

    Truely the post is awesome!

  29. I am impressed from the way you are planning the event, gratefull you remembered to share the colors of life with us.

    Keep it up...

  30. While my parents very much support one candidate, they make it clear that they would support the other side if they actually liked/believed he would be a good president

  31. Yeah this one was great and relevant post and it was worth to read. Expecting more and more good work from you as well.


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