Monday, September 8, 2008

The No Discuss Policy

I grew up in a fairly typical Southern family. I think my experiences and way of being raised was much like any other child during my generation (born in 1968).

When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, Jimmy Carter was running for president. We lived in Georgia.

In my class, we had been asked to write a letter to one candidate or the other. Well, come on - I wrote to the dude from Georgia.

I received an invitation to his inauguration (all of which I still own, it's in the chest we took from my parents' house after my mother died).

I was very gung ho about his running (go figure), but I wanted to ask every person over 18 who they were voting for. I quickly learned that this was extremely rude.

My parents taught me a lesson at that time. There are three things that are not suitable for discussion outside of your own immediate family: politics, finances and religion. I was told that I should keep my thoughts on these matters to myself, lest I risk hurting someone's feelings or offending or alienating them in some way.

In the last week, I have had my feelings hurt a lot. It's one thing to have an opinion. It's quite something else to be (however unintentional) hateful to someone you might happen to like.

Every time I read another person's Facebook update or Twitter response about politics, it further chisels a sad image for those people in my mind. Out of respect and admiration for all my friends, I remain silent.

Because every time you insult my party in a personal manner ("They're a pack of morons."), you insult me as well.

I don't make apologies for my stance, but have some decency.

Because it's the polite thing to do.


  1. {{HUGS}} I'm trying to think back to see if I have bitched about Republicans recently... I think I've stuck to bitching about religion... ooops!!! It's sad that both the conventions focused on hating the other side so much it's sort of like throwing blood in the water and us poor sharks get all crazy.

  2. Although I'm fairly sure we are members of the same party, I do apologize. I just couldn't take all the comments on Twitter anymore without responding. I mean, really, how long can you have your values attacked before you feel you must fight back. I blogged about it...don't know if you saw it. I think you would agree with what I'm saying, but I understand wanting to just avoid the whole thing.

  3. Silly question...what party are you? If a Republican, I hope I haven't offended you.

  4. You're absolutely right. Everyone has different reasons for why they think a particular candidate best represents their needs and interests. Sometimes that changes depending on life circumstances, but really, it takes EVERYONE to make this system work, It wouldn;t be the same if there were only one party.

    And while I may have snarky opinions about some of the candidates, I certainly don;t think ill of the voting public.

  5. Ron - like I said, it's one thing to have an opinion and state your feelings about that, but you never take it to a personal level.

    Lauren - We're on the same side. I don't recall you saying anything on Twitter, but that stuff rolls by quickly. (Unfortunately, I caught all the "Repuplicans are morons." ones).

    MountainLaurel - I am Republican - you haven't said anything offensive.

    K - that's exactly the way I feel. :-)

  6. Um, Oops. I did say a thing or six about SP the VP, but (I thought)only as it relates to how useless she makes me feel.

    Attacking someone personally for their politics is a non-winnable situation. Better to call out those policies you have argument and discuss WHY your opinions differ. Certainly saying that all Republicans are morons doesn't solve anything, it's childish, and it's patently untrue as well.

  7. I feel ya.

    I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to put up w/the relentless "commentary" day in and day out.

    Good post!

  8. ETW....I have my own way of dealing w/ those that get personal if they happen not to share my opinion and its "Fuck-em". No way am I gonna let these morons get to me and as for as them hurting my feelings....yeah, that'll happen.

    I'm a Republican and I won't get on my knees an ask for anyone's forgiveness because of that. Do I like Bush...nope. Do I think the current Republican candidates are without their flaws...nope. BUT...I have a right to vote for anyone I damn well please.

    I normally won't discuss my political views because of exactly from what you encountered. Too many uninformed zealots who resort to name-calling because their pea-sized brains can't process anything that is multi-syllable.

  9. While I'm not a Republican, my entire family IS. They, as individuals, don't want to hear my point of view on anything political simply because they don't agree with me. That's why, for the most part, I don't enjoy political discussions.

    Its a tough issue. People like to argue. I hope I've never offended you or hurt your feelings. If I have, I'm truly sorry!

  10. Tiff - I feel the same way.

    Jackie - thanks - glad to know I'm not alone.

    Efen - I have a feeling you and the Evil Twin would get along famously.

  11. Tiff, isn't your comment EXACTLY what ETW was arguing agains? Just saying.

  12. That's because you were raised right! I constantly have to bite my tongue. MOST people who talk about politics just want to hear themselves think. But whether they have serious concerns or are just being pundits, I stay mum unless I know them relatively well.

  13. I hope I'm not guilty of this. I know I've done a certain amount of railing, but my beef is not with the party as much as it is with some people in it (and there are those who are really hostile on both sides, I suppose... I just have the most problem with Republican members of my family who have the same lack of decency as the people who have hurt your feelings.) I'm in exactly the same situation, just on the other side of the aisle.

    It's really unfortunate, just how much this election has divided our society. Rather than debating issues, we're debating rumors and hearsay, and throwing insults around. I would LOVE to have a policy of non-discussion in my own home! It's really getting ugly -- so much that I leave the room whenever it comes up.

    I hope it wasn't me. I try to kvetch about specific people and policy, not the party as a whole, because I know you can't paint everyone with the same brush. Ever. In fact, I would love to sit down and talk with you about the issues sometime, because you're an intelligent person with views different than mine, and I know you don't buy into the crap that some in my family try to beat me over the head with. I would love to FINALLY see what good someone has to say about the other candidates, and not just hear them rail against my candidate. I love intelligent political discussion, and that's pretty much nonexistant in this election!

  14. Laura - You're getting it from the opposite side of me, but it's still wrong!

    MountainLaurel - I'm not arguing against anything, really. I'm pointing out that the personal attacks are unnecessary and serve no purpose other than hurt feelings. On either side. I think Tiff agreed there...And I certainly have no problems with civilized debate, which she later mentioned.

    honeywine - I honestly just try to steer clear of those three topics, unless I'm with someone VERY close to me.

    Rebecca - I've noticed the nastiness in both directions this time around too. I'm sure you and I could have a civilized conversation. :-)

  15. Girl.... you are so right. I am undecided and Bloggersville is no where to look if you're trying to make a decision.

    The only political mumbo-jumbo I've posted is how Bill Clinton would have made a lovely first lady. (I have a serious crush on him for reals... it's that southern accent I think). But that's about as far as I went.

    I, for one, will be glad when the whole thing is over and we can go back to our regularly scheduled lives.


  16. Tiff, I owe you a HUGE apology. I should have checked more carefully before I directed my comment. ETW, I think I should extend that apology to you as well.

    The comment that got me was this one of Efen's: "Too many uninformed zealots who resort to name-calling because their pea-sized brains can't process anything that is multi-syllable." The way I saw this post, ETW's point is that we should be civilized and respectful, and this comment didn't strike me as either of those things.

    Sorry for any misunderstanding!

  17. Mountainlaurel; I think maybe you should read a little more slowly then you wouldn't have to issue so many apologies.

    1st of all, I am hardly ever civilized or respectful so if my comment caused you considerable angst, well, then so be it.

    Of course that was ETW's point and I was agreeing with her! MY POINT was that there are those people out there who don't bother to learn the facts, their minds are made up without doing any substative research and forming their own opinions, not parroting someone elses. Then, those very same people bash anyone that thinks differently than they do or make generalizations that they attribute to a whole group. Both Republicans and Democrats do this as well as the 15 YO kid down the block who couldn't care less...and these were the ones I was referring to with "Too many uninformed zealots who resort to name-calling because their pea-sized brains can't process anything that is multi-syllable."

    I stand by this statement 100% and if you truly believe politics and the media alike, operate differently, then I am envious of your Norman Rockwell world.

  18. For the record, I agree one hundred percent with what Tiff said.

    Efen, you've never made a mistake? I seriously doubt it, as if you had never made a mistake you couldn't have done much, and your comment sounded reasoned. Some of us, when we make mistakes, we learn and apologize. Please don't slam me for that. the comment I read quite's just the name that I confused.

    There certainly are idiots on both side of the aisle,and they all scare me. But name-calling is exactly what ETW is talking about, from the way I read her post.

    I miss the days when people had reasoned debates. That's what I try to foster whenever I can.

  19. I hope I didn't offend you in some way. I know so little about politics that I'd do well to keep my mouth shut. My choices are always made through intuition - not the best way to choose your candidate, I know.

  20. I apologize again if I've offended in any way... and 20 comments!!!!! Woo Hoo!!!!

  21. catscratch - Seriously, the accent? Takes all kinds.... ;-)

    MountainLaurel - thanks for clearing that up for me... I was SO confused (not difficult for me, I'm the dumb brunette LOL). I took Efen's comment the way he described it. I also agree with you, totally, that reasoned debate has gone missing for this election. It's nutz out there.

    Kenju - you've never offended me. I'm just blowing off steam because it seems to be open season on Republicans right now. (Now, I see that both sides hear nastiness).

    Ron - didn't you just comment 11 hours ago? ;-)

  22. I've grown to like political discourse -- discourse being the operative word.

    Yep, there are plenty of asshats on both sides and satellite pockets.

    But I guess I've gotten spoiled. I've been lucky that in recent years I have had friends and colleagues among whom we all discuss and gently kid.

    I too hate painting any one group/party with a broad brush.

    I do know that I need a serious vacation from the news and politics in particular.

    Ok, I'm rambling.

  23. No worries, Mountain Laurel. Apology, if even one was needed, is accepted.

    ETW - you've hit on a winner here. Well done, and thanks.

  24. Great post. I wish all bloggers who aren't specifically political bloggers would adopt your rule (good manners).

    I follow one guy who I link to on my blog and out of nowhere, he went all political. I do understand how conventions can do this to people.

    I commented, though really civilly, but regretted it. Not because I said anything offensive, but because the reason I follow his blog is for the other good things he has to write, and to even hint that we don't see eye to eye (and why should we, really?) on politics isn't relevant to the blogger/reader relationship.

    In a way, I think when I read his stuff and when he reads mine - totally unrelated to politics, there will be that weird feeling in the background.

    Again, great post.

  25. That's why I asked the folks who commented on my political post to "keep it clean." I don't believe someone who has differing political inclinations than myself is a moron. I may not fully understand their position or even understand their reasoning, but intelligent debate is not something I shy away from.

    When the name calling starts, I pick up my toys and go home. I won't back down from my political position and I don't expect you to back down from yours. I think we can all learn a lot from each other.

    You're a lovely person, ETW, I'll be seeing you soon, hopefully!

  26. Janis - I need a break, too!

    Tiff - you're sweet, thanks.

    Dave - Sometimes it's difficult to not carry the "bad" feelings after the cat's been let out of the bag, so to speak. Thanks for your kind words.

    Inanna - We have such similar thoughts. From different points of view, but it's respect that is key. I think we'll be seeing each other real soon. Buddy asked if your son could come over this coming weekend or the next.

  27. I have to say that I find your post so interesting.
    First of all, I am Canadian so I don't get a say obviously. I have to say that I have been watching all of the speeches with much interest and I do have my opinions and favourites. I get the rest of my U.S. political news from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Is that bad??
    We are electing a new Prime Minister around the same time as your are electing your new President. I believe I know more about your candidates than my own.
    I was also taught that it was impolite to ask someone who they were voting for. I thought that was just a Canadian thing.

  28. The reason politics is such vile topic is because its subjective. You never get to prove what's right or wrong.

    That's an argument I don't like to enter.

  29. ms. (soon to be mrs!) - It's neat that you're that interested. :-) Although the Colbert Report and Jon Stewart are only spoof news shows - try CNN or Fox News (if you get them).

    LBB - You're absolutely right. Plus, I think we live in this Jerry Springer time where people think if someone doesn't agree with you, then just get louder and resort to personal attacks.

  30. Ok, I'm late to this party but I wanted to tell you that this post really hit home for me. I felt silly because I was starting to let the Twitter comments hurt my feelings! (I know, ridiculous.) But it infuriates me that the democratic candidate said this was going to be an election about issues, not people, and I see more and more "Republicans are morons" comments every day. I've just kept my mouth shut, but the post I so want to write is stuck in my brain, screaming to get out.

  31. Fr. Doug's student mass today focused on setting aside differences, and his sermon made heavy mention of the nastiness surrounding both sides of this election. Right on!

  32. Ok, I so resemble your comments and I am so sorry if any group I join on Facebook makes you upset. I love discussing politics (all sides) and religion (all sides) and getting to know and understand where everyone is coming from. You know that I am a true believer that everyone has the right to their opinion and values. Know that whether we agree on something or not, I still love and respect you and hope that you will do the same for me. xoxo