Ahh, debate season is upon us. So is the season of ignorance and vitriol. My social media timelines have been bursting with blind hate, uninformed opinions and narrow-minded beliefs. It’s reminded me of how desperately we need to educate ourselves before November 8th. This is not a new soap box for me, but it’s an important one which is why I find myself standing on it once again. If you are someone who hates all Democrats or someone who hates all Republicans, this is not the post for you. Sadly, you are part of the problem if not THE problem, but nothing I write is going to neither register nor open your mind to anything beyond your preconceived political views, so step away. Scoot. Move along to your Huffington Post, CNN, Fox News and Drudge Report sites and don’t forget to wear those beloved blinders while you’re there. For everyone else, you may want to move along, too, but if you’d like to read a train wreck in the making, by all means, continue forth.
I am going to start by sharing one simple fact that I’d like you to keep in mind. I DO NOT like Donald Trump OR Hillary Clinton. I’ve said it before, but felt the statement needed reiteration. I’d write it louder for those in the back, but that’s really just an all-caps catastrophe in an article such as this. I say this because I don’t want what I’m about to write to be misconstrued or, worse yet, completely dismissed because you think I’m voting one way or another and I’m just preaching my political agenda to you. I’m not. Preaching that is.
Moving on … when I was 18, I was probably one of the most enthusiastic 18 year olds there could be filling out my voter registration card. Being able to vote, having a say in our government, was EVERYTHING to me. I’d comb the periodical section in the library (remember preriodicals? because there was no Google) so I’d know what was going on in the country and beyond. I’d watch the few news channels we had back in the day, though they were just as slanted and bias then as they are now. I even campaigned for a local councilman. I was a teenager, but I owned the rights I’ve been granted as a US citizen. I was also very much Republican.
Then college happened.
Rewind, if you will, to your early college days as a late teen finding your way in the world. Remember your obstinacy. Recall how you knew everything about anything and no one could sway you from that stone cold death grip you had on your beliefs, political or otherwise. Now imagine me, same age and attitude, stepping foot onto my college campus, an art school no less, with thousands of other kids the same age with the same attitude. Now imagine me as the lone Republican (other than hot soccer Steve who was most definitely conservative during orientation, but certainly didn’t stay that way) in a sea of hormonal, rebellious and rather obtuse individuals, promoting their individuality through every nose ring, combat boot or strand of blue hair. These were kids (yes, kids, because that’s exactly what we were) that had yet to be truly jaded, but whose air was comprised of judgment and cynicism. They were artists which meant being free-spirited, progressive and challenging to “the man” that kept us down (though who “the man” was, was clearly up for debate). Most importantly to this flock of fresh-faced Goth-eyed adolescents, being an artist meant being a liberal. Even though they would have hated the label because in addition to being anti-establishment, they were also anti-label (though in trying to be as anti-label as possible, they in fact became an actual label).
Regardless, I was alone in my conservative political fervor, so I kept my mouth shut. I wasn’t going to be changing minds any time soon, just like they wouldn’t be changing mine. Oh how stupid kids can be …
Fast forward to American Government, a mandatory course that everyone had to take. Secretly I was super excited about the class. I knew I was going to have to deal with a fair share of Republican bashing, but as Ronald Reagan once said, “If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.” So I kept my chin up and took in everything I could, including the oft baseless hate being churned out like an Iowan’s butter. At some point, the prof finally had us take the test. You know the test – the one where you find out where you fall on the liberal/conservative spectrum of life. Are you a Democrat or a Republican? Of course we already knew exactly what we were. We were kids. We knew everything. So after answering a myriad of questions regarding our thoughts about policy, tariffs, and social programs, we turned in our sheets and waited till the next class to see in what box we’d officially be placed.
My classmates were taking bets by the next day on which of the class would be the most liberal and taking great pride in the fact it could be them. Not only was our professor going to hand us our scores which indicated where we landed on the chart, but he was also going to share the results on the overhead projector for the entire class to see.
So there it was, I was about to be outed in front of the whole class as one of the racist Bible-thumping Republican fools that shouldn’t be allowed a vote according to my zealously liberal course mates. I was fairly certain no one knew the secret I’d been hiding for the better part of nine weeks, but you have to understand, the Republican or just general conservative bashing I’d endured, and which the professor eagerly supported (totally bias man) for the majority of the class was pretty brutal, so I wasn’t exactly eager for my results to be blasted on a silver screen for my fellow students’ amusement. I was going to be the lone little dot on the far far Right while a cluster of dots would be making something akin to a large ink blob on the Left …
But of course that’s not what happened.
EVERYONE IN THE CLASS EXCEPT ME had their dots on the Right side of the chart. MY dot was smack dab in the freaking middle. And NO ONE was Left of me. I was the most liberal in a class of professed liberals. I, the Ronald Reagan loving girl from a Red State was the Left. Everyone else was the Right. Yours truly was DEAD CENTER. Put that in pot pipe and smoke it you wannabe liberal labelers. Oh how there was an uproar. The students were livid. The results were wrong, there was no way they, the progressive majority, could possibly agree with the Right on anything, let alone agree enough to be considered conservative in their political leanings. It was glorious.
Now, I can chalk their rage and lack of brain to mouth filter back then up to youthful ignorance. BECAUSE THEY WERE KIDS. We all perceive the world differently at that age and know very little of it. But I’m about to be 37 years old and I see people who should know better still labeling like a machine, casting hate and making assumptions about people with unadulterated vehemence . I see people, who in one breath, say we need to be inclusive of all races and religions and in another breath claim anyone who votes this one way is a racist or a xenophobe. For the record, I see these people on BOTH sides; no party is immune.
Why, as a society, are we like this? What happened to amiable adult discourse? I enjoy amiable adult discourse, it’s just hard to find these days as people continue to label like The Breakfast Club. Has John Hughes taught us nothing?
Is it asking too much that maybe we don’t vote off of our preconceived notions? Maybe we don’t hate people because they disagree with us? Maybe we don’t back a candidate based off of who wore it best? Or maybe we try some adulting by educating ourselves about the issues from multiple authorities instead of using clichéd sound bites and 140 character headlines as news sources to formulate our opinions… I’m just spit-balling here.
The ignorance is too much. The intolerance is too much. The HYPOCRISY is too much. Please. Don’t. Be. Part. Of. The. Problem. Look at the issues, look at the platforms, and look at the local elections because that’s really the most important part of it, my friends (for those who are still willing to be my friends after reading this ridiculously long diatribe). You don’t have to agree with someone if they have a differing point of view, it’s what makes us unique. Also, don’t hate them, either. You’re better than that. We all are. If this election doesn’t go your way, suck it up and see how else you can help change the world.