In most parts of my life, I try to keep out of political discussions. It’s hard, at times, to talk to laypersons about the intricacies of policy without the rhetoric. Yet in the period leading up to and including the election, I had occasion (and took ample opportunity) to both engage in the political discussions and some of the rhetoric.
It got so bad that I found myself responding to those long chain e-mails, providing links to facts and explanations of how incorrect various facts about programs and individuals were. Worse, I engaged in the cardinal sin of discussing politics (and, to a degree, religion) with family. I spent my birthday arguing with one such individual — an unknown gentleman at least thirty years my senior, living in Gulf Shores, Ala. — about whether or not President Obama is a Muslim, my own status as either a homo, negro, teacher, union member (note: the gentleman was previously IBEW. Go figure.), or government employee, and how his universe is detached from reality.
But it’s the familial damage that’s most distressing. During the election, in a conversation with a family member on Facebook, I wrote what I thought was probably the most heartfelt thing I’d written about the entire election (possibly anywhere).
In it, I explained to the family member who disagreed with my politics that I would never support policies that would hurt my family — or his family, and, especially, young daughter. That I work in public policy, I take time to research and follow these policies as they are developed and crafted and molded and then implemented. I know what the politics are and what the policies are. I’ve looked at the options and, especially for them, President Obama is the best choice, for every reason except possibly the religious right’s desire to force laws down women’s throats restricting their right to choose/privacy. When I went back to reread it the next day on my computer to make sure it expressed what I wanted it to (I’d typed it up on my phone) and found all my comments, including that one, on that person’s discussion thread were gone. I asked where they’d gone and never received a reply. I was very sad.
At the very least, I can say that (a) I am not passive-aggressive when these discussions begin and (b) now that the election is over, I will continue working in politics and policy to make a better country while these individuals go back to just watching FOX News and not really knowing what’s actually going on in the world.
Ultimately, I’m really making the same argument I make to all people who are voting for Republicans and their worldview (ideology) and policies of tax cuts and other BS. Unless you see yourself making over $250,000 a year, any tax increase under Obama ain’t gonna touch you. (Bet you didn’t even know he gave you a tax cut during his first term!) But increasing their tax brackets to what they were supposed to be after the expiration date President Bush set will allow us to reduce the debt everyone is so worried about, help pay for infrastructure improvements (which create jobs) and invest in America while not hurting those making under $250,000 by raising their taxes. As former President Clinton might say, “It’s arithmetic.”
Isn’t that more important than making sure the richest add to their (government) Social Security checks with massive amounts of golden parachute retirement benefits (much of it parked tax free)? But, it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round. We could base our judgments and policies on reality and fact if we didn’t have peddlers of falsehood like FOX News, and those willing to freely bear false witness, like the Romney/Ryan campaign and many self-professed Christians.
For once, it would be nice to have that civilized, fact-driven conversation.