There are three main sentiments on social media this time of year –
- “I hate election season! I just don’t care.”
- “My candidate is superior, yours is a jerk, and I’m deleting you from my friend list.”
- “I love politics! (insert rational, intelligent, factual discussion/comment/opinion here, with respectful discussion with other political party members)”
When I was in high school, I was really interested in the Democratic party. A member of our church ran for a local office and I volunteered with her campaign, and my Cross Country coach was also active with the Democratic party and inspired me. I worked at polls. I collated literature. I canvassed houses. And I was really, really excited about it.
My parents snickered behind my back at every chance they got. I think they were proud that I was taking an interest. But they knew me well enough to know that I hadn’t done my homework…and they knew that the Democratic party wasn’t a good fit for me. It wasn’t. I liked the people I knew a part of it, but I hadn’t done any research.
Come college, I did educate somewhat better, and quickly realigned myself with the Republican party after skimming some top issues. And I took important pieces of me, and decided that they made me a conservative. I supported the military. I supported the 2nd Amendment. I did not support abortion, and I did not support gay marriage, which largely came from ignorance. I didn’t know anyone that had made the choice (or felt they had no other choice but to) have an abortion. It was black and white to me – murder. Gay marriage also came from ignorance. I was raised in the church. Wasn’t marriage to be between a man and a woman? I didn’t know any gay people, it sounded wrong and immoral and gross to me, therefore, surely, it should not be allowed. Guys, I was wrong. About these examples, and about a dozen others I could list, but I figured I’d pick the two most controversial to help show my journey here.
Tyler’s greatest frustration with politicians is the flip flopping. He takes great issue with the fact that Romney could at one point support Roe v Wade and state that abortion should be safe and legal, and now is pro-life. He hated how Obama campaigned against the Bush tax cuts, and then extended them, and went from promising to cut the deficit in half to increasing it.
I disagree with Tyler. I doubt we can find a politician that DOESN’T flip flop, and our two main candidates this year each have lists a mile long. Because I suspect they are always doing what I’m doing – evolving, learning, educating, being inspired – but they are on a public platform. So all of those previous opinions and votes are documented forever. Frankly, I don’t want to be a part of a country where our politicians never open their mind to other ideas and outcomes. Now, with the examples above, I do have to say that I semi-support Romney’s current position – not because I am pro-life, but because the second part of his stance (less broadcast, obviously) is returning the authority to decide to the states. And I am 100% in favor of more state rights and less Federal oversight.
But what I can thank Tyler for is constantly challenging my thoughts and opinions. When I state an opinion he pushes me – why? He forces me to get behind an idea , and process for myself why something is important. I often go through life on feelings. I felt more confident watching Romney acting in a leadership role in the debates. I felt like Obama was personable and could relate to citizens. I told Tyler last night how much Romney’s response to women’s issues bothered me, but I struggled to explain why – I just didn’t like how he answered. Tyler kept pushing at me – playing devil’s advocate. I pointed out that men DO make more than women, and women deserve more opportunities. I used the example of the Rooney Rule in football – where teams have to interview at least one minority for coaching and management positions, and now there are more (equally qualified) minorities in those positions in the NFL. Tyler immediately dismissed this rule, and says that those men would have been interviewed anyway, and now that the standard has been established, and it is clear that minorities are as, or even more competent than white coaches and managers, the rule should be dismissed. I countered with the state of California, that eliminated affirmative action in colleges and suffered a steep decline in minority student enrollment.
We bantered back and forth, and then brought our discussion back to the debate and women’s rights. Tyler stated that women are less aggressive. Offer her a $75K salary and she’ll say thanks. He says a man is more likely to say “Ehh, I deserve $90K.” I disagreed with him. I personally have been very aggressive when it comes to salary negotiations, and at my most recent project I was able to achieve over double the hourly rate they originally offered. He took credit and said that it is his encouragement that made me more confident. I hated to say it, but he was right – however I think it has less to do with the fact that I’m a woman, and more because I was raised in a much lower tax bracket than he was, and I still found the initial rate to be appropriate. I’m quickly spiraling off topic here…
When it came to who I supported, I still wasn’t doing my homework. Prior even to Romney’s nomination, Tyler kept sending me these websites where you can respond to issues, and see where you really stand politically. My favorite is I Side With.
At first look, you agree or disagree. You’re pro-life, or pro-choice. But while we often think there are just two candidates, two sides of an issue, and two parties, there aren’t. Big issues aren’t always just two sided. Look at abortion and gay marriage:
My first thought was “xyz, BUT -” There are often “buts” in life. So lets embrace them. I clicked “Choose another stance.” And look what came up – my buts:
Suddenly, my opinions on issues began to come together. There was a platform for my buts. I completed the quiz, and came back overwhelmingly Libertarian. I took other online quizzes. I googled multiple parties and read their backgrounds and official stances. And I realized that, for me – what I want for my country, and my life, and my daughter, doesn’t fit neatly in Elephant or Donkey packaging. And per that site, apparently I side 92% with Gary Johnson. And the more I learn? He is a candidate that I can get behind. Tyler is currently rolling his eyes and wondering why it took so long. Like I said, this has been a learning process for me 😉
Most people that I know are voting for the “lesser of two evils.” Until recently, so was I. Tyler always stood behind his candidate, Gary Johnson, and I accused him of wasting his vote, since the guy would never win. The Republicans and Democrats have such a stronghold on the political stage that it is hard to imagine things any other way.
Few of my readers are old enough to recall the 1992 election, but Ross Perot exploded onto the scene, and quickly gained popularity as a third party to Bush and Clinton. At one point he held the majority in the polls. He participated in the debates. And he ultimately lost. This year, Gary Johnson, was excluded from the debates. He filed a lawsuit, invoked anti-trust laws, and even some sponsors withdrew from the debates because of his exclusion, but the fact remains that its a rigged system. Did many of you even know that the Libertarian party officially nominated a candidate? Could you have named him before I did in this post? And how familiar are you with other political parties?
I could turn this post into a novel, but instead, I’m asking you to research these things for yourself.
- Does our country need a third party? I believe we do. I believe the Republicans and Democrats are working hard to win elections, and not solve problems. Google this for yourself – you’ll find numerous articles and editorials.
- Are you really the party you think you are? I was guilty of settling, and not researching. I learned that while I might believe some things, I didn’t believe the Federal government should regulate or dictate them. I discovered that I strongly support state rights and individual liberties. I knew next to nothing about the Libertarian party a year ago, and now I’m writing a blog post. Open your mind.
- Do you truly support your candidate, or is he simply “better than the other guy”? Because unless you’re completely enamored and support all aspects, perhaps there IS a candidate out there that speaks for you. And unless more of us vote for who we think should be in office, the system will never change.
- Do you know which issues are most important to you? I think you should always read a variety of news sources, and editorials. Glean facts from different sides, and form your own opinions. And stand for something. I personally consider foreign policy and the economy to be my biggest concerns. What are yours? Write them out, process them. If you don’t have a Tyler in your life to push you, comment here 😉 I’m sure I’ll get some spirited discussions going!
- Do you remember your 8th grade Civics class? Refamiliarize yourself with the role of the Supreme Court…the Electoral College…congressional oversight. I see so many comments about what a Presidential candidate would do, with seeming obliviousness to how the system works. There are checks and balances. The President doesn’t go into office and make laws by himself. And even if a Democratic President wins? You could always get a Republican House or Senate, which causes all sorts of fun. Government is a little more complicated than Romney vs Obama.
- Are you going to vote? Because what an incredible right that we have – what an amazing country we live in. I hope that everyone that can vote does, and does so confidently.
My goal here isn’t to insult the Republicans or Democrats. If you have looked at all sides, and still strongly align with your party and candidate, then I am so glad that you stand for something. And if you are now questioning some things and look into my guy a little bit…well, that is rad too 😉
Comments won’t be moderated unless you directly insult another poster. You can say whatever you want about me and my opinions, but I’d rather you were at least respectful towards each other. But I’d love to hear what you stand for!