Sunday, February 19, 2017

American Politica Discourse

Yesterday I had a conversation (very brief) with a friend of a friend on Facebook because my friend posted something questioning Trump's strategies. After two attempts to talk to her, first to defend my friend, second to get her to converse, I had to block her. This crystallized something that I have come to see is particular to this election cycle and this president.

I started my voting life as a Republican at 18. I became a Republican because my father was military and I came to believe that to be military, one needed a Republican in office because Republicans were pro-military. Soon after this I became a Mormon, and I started my walk into right-wing-fundamentalism where it is almost required to be a Republican. I left the Mormon church and became a Southern Baptist. I marched against abortion. I was anti-rock music (music of Satan) and anti-a lot of toys that could allow "demons" into the lives/souls of my children. 

Somewhere in the middle of being a Southern Baptist, however, I began to be concerned with, call it "the big picture". I felt that my right-wing-fundamentalist focused on only one issue and to hades with all the other issues in the world. I also read a life changing book that made me question my beliefs as a fundamentalist and began my  walk out of that lifestyle and into a more centrist or moderate position. I began to clearly see that focusing on one issue for a political candidate IN SPITE OF anything else they are/do/say was morally wrong for me.

Then I met a Christian Southern Democrat who challenged me to go home one weekend and really study the Republican platform and see how it lined up with how I felt about God, the world, humanity and what can be done to help humanity. It was a humbling experience to be so challenged and I threw myself into what Republicans stood for and have come to stand for.  At the end of that weekend I realized I had never, in my core self, been a Republican.

During all of this I belonged to a Christian chat room on Yahoo. I started in Christian chat room 2 and then moved to room 3 where I stayed for about 20 years. I met many fabulous people here from all walks of Christianity with all kinds of views of God and Christ and politics. We talked about it all with passion and heat. Sometimes we fought. Sometimes we cried. But we always came back and slugged it through till we made ourselves heard and known, and we heard and knew the other person. Rarely did anyone leave our chat room in anger and never come back. Rarely did anyone "unfriend" another person over their views.

So back to this conversation with my friends friend, whom I do not know at all, and what it clarified for me. She began with a statement that was intended to shut down discourse. And as I look back at my conversations about this election cycle, I find this is happening WAY TOO OFTEN. And this, it seems to me, is what is making us not be able to come to any kind of common ground. 

She began with "You liberals need to pull up your big person pants and deal with this presidency". My first response was to defend my friend, who is NOT a liberal, but who is still concerned about this president. Her come back was another "All liberals are just upset about losing" kind of comment.

Anytime you lead with or come back with "All (insert demographic here) are/feel/think (fill in emotion/political stance/religious stance here) you shut down conversation. You slam the person against the wall with your forearm against their neck, eye to eye and you basically dare them to come back at you. I refuse to engage in that kind of conversation anymore. It is pointless and emotionally damaging.And it is what I have consistently seen in this election cycle. 

Mention you don't care for Trump and you are a libtard or a libertard and sore over losing and you need to pull up your big girl panties and get a grip. Hello!!! I have a grip. Which is why I am concerned. 

I have voted Democrat and Republican and Green and Libertarian over the years since I was 18. My guy has lost MANY TIMES. It NEVER drove me to despair for my country. Not until this time. This time is different. This time we have a man with Zero experience at anything other than bankrupting companies and using women as a president, and I believe this puts our country, even our very democracy in danger. I am sorry that you cannot see that, that you did not hear what I heard for the 2 years that Donald J Trump was campaigning, but that is your issue, not mine. I have the right to fear for my country. I have the right to march, to protest, to sign petitions, to make phone calls, to send post cards and to do whatever I feel is right within the law to protest a man I see as a danger. Just as you have the right to support him and cheer him on. This is America, for God's sake. This is what we do.

But please, if you want to have a political discourse, do not start your response to me, or your comment to me with: "All (insert demographic here) are/feel/think (fill in emotion/political stance/religious stance here). What this says to me is you don't really give a flying rat's arse what I think, you have your opinion and mine is irrelevant. Either just walk away without being disparaging, OR have a conversation. You might be surprised...we might have things in common after all.