I’m sure I’ve said it here before, usually as I’m breaking my own rules, that I stay away from two topics: religion and politics. It’s not because I don’t care or don’t have any opinions on the topics. Quite the opposite actually. I care very much about the two topics. But I care about how I personally feel about them.
You see, I’m not on a mission to change the world. Don’t get me wrong. If I had the power, I’d probably make a few changes. And in fact, I do make an effort to contribute to the things in which I think I can make the most difference. But I’m not trying to make everyone think the way I think. I’m not even trying to make everyone understand how I think. Because I don’t have to.
Isn’t America great, if nothing else, but for that reason alone?
But I do care about politics. I can remember as a child thinking that any mention of politics was just about the most boring thing in the world. Whatever my parents thought, that’s what I thought. Whoever they supported in the election, well, that’s who I thought should win too. As I child, it was boring and didn’t matter much to me because I couldn’t really fathom how it affected me.
It matters to me now. The older I get the more aware I am of how political decisions affect me and my family. And on the broader spectrum, I understand how the decisions affect our place in the world (speaking in every sense of the word). I know what I support and why I support. So why is it so difficult to talk politics?
When I attended Type-A Parent Conference this year, I was in a social situation where I admitted to being a, gasp, Republican. It instantly changed the dynamics at the table. In the blogging circles I generally run in, I definitely feel like I’m in the political minority. I’m okay with that. In fact, it’s probably why I don’t want to talk about politics. I don’t want conflict.
But should a difference in opinion in politics result in a conflict? This is where I’m torn.
At that conference, I was met with looks of shock. One friend told me jokingly that she had suddenly lost a huge amount of respect for me. Another gave me a nudge and more or less whispered, “It’s okay. I’m one too.” And another, clearly of another political persuasion, asked me genuinely why I was a Republican. She just wanted to have an open, honest conversation with someone that believed differently to better understand an opposing viewpoint.
I felt instantly uncomfortable. I was worried about being attacked (not physically, of course) or having to defend every word I said. It was a conversation I wasn’t prepared to have and didn’t really want to have.
The problem in that situation was me. My views don’t fit into a box. I’m a pretty strong environmentalist. I support gay marriage. So I can’t possibly be a Republican. But I also believe in a strong military and less government. Am I Republican or am I simply a conservative?
I have to admit. I still miss the donkey.
I find myself afraid to have a conversation about it. You’re either a bleeding heart liberal or a right-wing conservative lunatic. There is no middle ground and we can’t get to a middle ground unless we can talk about it.
So I’m issuing you a challenge. I want to start a conversation here. Not a debate. Not mudslinging. Not a ploy for a ridiculous amount of comments. I want to hear where you are on the political spectrum.
Answer a few questions for me:
- Are you confident in your political views?
- Do you feel comfortable talking about your views?
- Can you share where you are on the political spectrum?
- Can you do it without taking shots at those that don’t share your views?
(If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you can still share your views. In fact, I’d love to hear them!)
And if this goes well, maybe I’ll tackle religion next. 🙂
I am very much like you. A republican who supports gay marriage and other issues not traditionally associated with the party. I am a conservative. I am proud. I am an immigrant to this country and I love this country. But I feel attacked when I mention my beliefs – more so online then in real life. Check out this post from @MissBritt http://miss-britt.com/2011/09/meet-my-republican-friends/ – I think if more people listened to each other, on both sides, without attack – our country would be a better place.
Thank you for pointing out Miss Britt’s piece. I hadn’t read it and I love that while she is on the opposite end of the spectrum, she, too, wants to understand where other people are coming from.
She especially got me when her friends mentioned “with trepidation” that they were conservative. Nobody should feel that way for professing their beliefs. Would love to know where you are originally from!
I really question how you can have a strong military and less government. It seems to me that you would want an educated military to have them strong, so you need to support schools — including college and keeping it affordable. Then you need to keep people healthy, so you have to support insurance reforms and spending on healthcare, and how do you transport your strong military? Do you do that over crumbling bridges and roads? Or are you a Republican just because you don’t want to pay taxes? I think those who support less taxes ought to think just what would happen to our society if you took away a lot of things. Just think right now of the movement to “Occupy Wall Street” – something like that could turn into a full blown war with all of those who are out of work, working poor, etc. Hope that doesn’t sound like an attack, I just think its a reasonable expectation if you take away government programs.
Lisa – I don’t see any of the questions you posed as an attack. It’s the start of a debate. Obviously in a short post, I can’t convey all the details of every on my political platform. There are pros and cons to every political persuasion. It’s simply where you place your priorities that determine where your vote ends up.
I actually wrote a couple of posts from personal experience about healthcare reform. And my beliefs in being a Republican aren’t as simple as not wanting to pay taxes. And if someone is a Republican for that reason alone, you have my permission to chastise them.
What’s interesting, though, is that I put out a call to hear what YOU believe and what YOU stand for without talking about what someone else believes. Instead of defending some of the statements I’ve made (which I’d be happy to do at a later time because healthy political debate is, well, healthy), I’d love to hear where you stand and why. If you want to share 😉
Answer a few questions for me:Are you confident in your political views? Yes. Most politicians are in it for themselves not to serve “the people” or the “greater good”.
Do you feel comfortable talking about your views? I just did. I think we all need to take a long hard look at the damage we are doing to our country though.
Can you share where you are on the political spectrum? I am for what is going to fix the fact that people have no jobs, fix outrageous healthcare and the candidate who is not going to be controlled by those with wealth.
Can you do it without taking shots at those that don’t share your views? You tell me.Over the past few years I have gotten increasingly sad that people want to just “have their way” or the highway. It makes me SICK SICK SICK how much the few have ruined our economy and politicians for their own benefit. I am not for any political spectrum, I am for working hard and fixing the issues.
Lisa – thanks for weighing in. I know it’s a topic that’s hard NOT to get passionate about. I have to admit that I, too, am totally jaded by politicians pretty much from any party. Perhaps you’ve hit on something. To most of us, it’s the issues that are so important and actually fixing them. It’s that we have yet to find the right mix of people to get the job done.
I’m a Republican, too. Doesn’t it seem sometimes that we are the minority at blog conferences for some reason? Or maybe that’s just my viewpoint. I don’t know.
My views don’t fit into a box, either. I think it’s rare to find someone who agrees with ALL of their party’s views. But, most of mine fit in with the Republican viewpoint, so that is what I call myself.
Shell – I felt the same way and had a nice chat at BlogHer with a moderate Democrat about it all. She was surprised that I felt in the minority because she felt the same way. There are a lot of right-wing, conservative, Christian bloggers out there so maybe that’s where some of the perception comes from.
P.S. I’ve yet to meet a Republican that fits into a box.
I share your concern that we cannot find middle ground if the only people talking are the ones on the ends of the spectrum. I think it boils down to having the conversation of “its okay to not agree, but its not ok to be vitriolic or violent when we disagree” I am a centrist, (some have called me without principle or a moral relativist) but I believe you and I have every right to believe as we choose, and no right to impose those beliefs on each other. I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative (have seen the good education, welfare assistance and equality for ALL can do & and also a strong supporter of our military as a service member myself, and have faith in a free market economy) – and no, i do not usually feel comfortable talking politics in public – because even my most open minded perspective is hit with assumption and anger. Thanks for having this conversation, Fadra.
Wow, Tammy. You and I should form a presidential ticket and take 2012 by storm!
Okay, I don’t really want to President (it’s too hard) but I think you said a lot of what I’m feeling and why I wanted to write. I’m fine with disagreeing but I don’t always want a disagreement to be a debate or put me on the defensive. I would guess that most of us moderates are in relative agreement on what the issues are. It’s a matter of finding common ground to create a solution.
I have stared at the TV, or overheard a conversation and just thought… whatever happened to doing the RIGHT thing, and not the thing that fits your agenda. Perhaps that is why I left HR after 17 years, and now own a wine business! 🙂 I feel your pain. And I think folks on both sides of many topics have that “moral compass” issue… maybe we should be looking at how that moral compass has gone 180 degrees out on our political spectrum?
The moral compass has become so subjective that I think sometimes people are afraid to take a stand on anything. Maybe we should all drink more wine 🙂
I cannot argue with this logic. It increases revenue and growth in my business…. hey… now there’s a platform. Drinking more Wine = Job Creation!
This is why I am an Independent. I support and disagree with a variety of things that cross both parties. My very conservative friends would say I am a liberal, while my bleeding heart liberal friends would say I am a conservative. I would say I do lean a little to the left, but like Tammy (I think) said, I make political decisions based on being what I think is the RIGHT thing to do, not what a political party/church leader/family member told me to think.
The problem is that if you decide to vote one way for your fiscal views and by doing so elect a candidate that flies against your moral compass how can you resign yourself to that?
Wouldn’t it be great if we all got to the point where we simply voted our conscience for who we thought the better candidate would be instead of the party they represent? Then we just have to make sure we can trust what they are telling us. That’s a whole separate issue.
I am also very much like you in that I try to keep religion and politics out of my blog… also because I have strong opinions about them. I am interested in hearing others views, but so often I encounter people where you have to believe their way and they spend a lot of time trying to show you how you are wrong. That is not what I am about. I am not offended that people hold different beliefs than mine (astonished occasionally, but I don’t take it as a personal attack). Life would be boring if everyone thought like me.
I am liberal when it comes to social policy and conservative on financial issues, which means I don’t seem to fit in any political party. I write to my Congressional representatives 4-5 times a year when a big issue is up, and I send about the same number of emails to the FDA when issues of food safety come up that I feel strongly on. I want my voice heard, but I firmly believe that their is room for other beliefs as well.
Thank you for stepping out of your comfort level and starting this conversation.
Socially liberal+fiscally conservative=Libertarian. If you need to “fit” somewhere! 🙂
I’d agree with you, except that I’m seeing people using libertarian completely differently. I think the term is becoming misunderstood as socially conservative folks look for a term that might be “somewhere between the tea party, and the democrats”. That is why I prefer to call myself a centrist. I’m not that libertarian, and do not want to confuse folks. Many “libertarians” I meet in Northeast Ohio are definitely not socially liberal in the sense of equality, religion, freedom of choice, or the environment. There was that woman who started the Coffee Party in DC… maybe THATs the middle ground.
I’ve been told my views meet the Libertarian criteria but it just didn’t feel quite right to me (no pun intended).
I think it’s interesting that most people commenting today are people that are somewhat moderate (liberal in some areas, conservative in others). It reminds me that many of us really care more about the issues, not the platform. But it’s easier to argue with someone when their views are known and easier to oppose.
It’s a little scary to talk about because I’m no expert. But I do think we need to have more conversation and less grandstanding.
I’m a Democrat. Socially and fiscally liberal. Ironic, probably considering where my husband and I sit socio-economically, but, well, call us bleeding hearts, I guess. I believe in a strong Federal Government that actually WORKS, and sadly I’m not seeing that right now. There’s so much bipartisan nonsense happening right now that it’s an embarrassing quagmire. I don’t
believe in a huge military watchdog. I take no pride in that.
As someone who works in environmental and cultural resource management, I’ve seen local governments with too little power and absolutely NO understanding, cut important funding for projects deemed unimportant, only to have disaster strike. We need companies like the EPA to exist so that we don’t find ourselves back at air quality standards of the 70s. Education needs to be our first priority but it’s often the first to receive cuts. Healthcare is a basic human right and needs to be ovehauled. We have one of the most expensive “systems” in the world, yet one of the highest maternal mortality rates. Why? The largest number of homeless is comprised of women and children. Unacceptable! We don’t support families nearly enough and have abhorrent materity leave
policies. I’m not saying Democrats are all that and a cup of tea, and I’d vote for a Republican (or third party -unless I thought doing so would make for a less desirable candidate to get in) if I felt they were the better candidate in a particular
race, but on the whole my beliefs line up
far more with Democrats. And I do think people should and NEED to talk politics more. Then perhaps it will come easier and people will be less inclined to name call. I’m glad you asked. Bravo!
I meant to say “local governments with too much power” 🙂
I heartily agree. Less government is not the answer- co-operation is. I feel all, “everything I learned in kindergarten.” 😉
You make great points on everything. Look at that. We agree on some things!!
Maybe I should rethink my stand on less government to actually be government that works. Isn’t that really the problem these days? I’m okay with taxes and proud to pay them. I’m not always okay with the way the government chooses to spend it.
Maybe it’s time to start some guest posts and tackle some of the issues from both sides. It’s a start, right?
First, when did the donkey change? OMG I am soooo behind LOL
Next, I am a republican that also doesn’t say so out loud. I hate that when I say that word people think Sarah Palin tea party radical. I am confident in my views, but not offensive/defensive. I am open to learning and finding ways to make this country better – even if that means admitting flaws in my views.
Great post Fadra! Thank you for opening this up so much!
Umm, hello?? I didn’t know that either until last night. Apparently, it went from the donkey to the kicking donkey to the big D. I have to say that I completely agree with everything you said. Not personally a Sarah Palin fan for a lot of reasons but I often hear people make the assumption that that’s who I support because I’m Republican.
And I hate to tell you this but… YOU JUST SAID SO OUT LOUD!!
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m comfortable talking about my views. What I do know is I’m uncomfortable when people express views that I feel are morally or ethically objectionable. If it were up to me, everyone would have what they needed and would be satisfied with their lives and their country. (“I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony…”) Since I know that isn’t going to happen, I generally keep my mouth shut or change the channel or leave the room when someone says something I grossly disagree with. Am I comfortable? I guess I am. I guess I’m less comfortable hearing things that set off my moral compass. If that helps. I realize it probably doesn’t.
It’s your opinion and that’s all I was asking for. Wouldn’t it be nice to all have a Coke and a smile and all that perfect harmony? It’s hard to think about fighting for world peace when it doesn’t seem like we have peace in our own country.
Not every issue is worth taking a stand on, or shouting from the mountaintops. I think the most important thing is believing in something and knowing why you believe in it.
And yay for you for talking about morality. It’s hard that it’s such a subjective topic but it’s one that guides my compass.
I think this is awesome and awesomely honest Fadra! You are ahead of the pack who pundit already in many ways. 🙂 And I haven’t even read the comment section yet but can see that you have 30 comments already so what’s that tell you!? You struck a chord, no surprise. I believe most of us are a mixture of a bunch of things. But what made me smile here is that when I hear that someone is different than I am (i.e., I’m a garden variety left of center person), and I’ve already got a modicum of respect for them? That makes me want to listen to them EVEN MORE. It is BECAUSE of a friendship or a developing affinity that I think, hmm okay – I think pretty well of this person, what can I learn that maybe I haven’t heard or learned before? Some people are repelled by conflict but honestly, I seek it out more for learning and figuring out if maybe I have it wrong. Won’t be naive here – I’m probably more likely to stick to what I believe, but only probably more likely, not definitely. How much of the world has any one of us met? There’s still a lot to learn. Going to the comments now! and thanks for letting me know you blogged this – GOOD LUCK!
Wow, Jill. I totally expected to convert you to the dark side 😉
I’m more than please to know that there are more moderates out there than I anticipated. It seems that the most extreme view either come from the loudest voices or make the most interesting news stories. I’m not sure I can drive out conflict between political persuasions but feel encouraged that people wanted to speak out and mostly listen to each other. Thanks for YOUR encouragement.
Wow, somebody opened “Pandora’s Box!” And, that is exactly why I do not discuss politics or religion on twitter.
Actually, I find it remarkably easy to see what end of the spectrum someone is on simply by reading their tweets!
Well, yes. I know where most people stand, which is why I had a little pit in my stomach when I published this. But if I just wrote about really cool products all the time, wouldn’t it get boring? Actually it wouldn’t be but…
I’m so glad you went there! I’m liberal. I admit it openly. I am socially liberal and fairly fiscally liberal. I’m a NC native, though, so some of my views can seem a little contrary. I am comfortable conversing about my views and I respect other points of view as long as I am accorded the same respect. I am so furious at what is going on both at the state level and national level politically. What I think we need more than anything is a dose of common sense, unity and a commitment to do the right thing for the country.
I believe in paying taxes and would pay more if asked (within reason). I believe in a strong national government. I support gay marriage. I support teacher accountability and better ways of assessing student achievement than No Child Left Behind. I support national healthcare (with infertility coverage). I support separation of church and state. I support a strong military. I support gun control but strongly believe in my right to bear arms.
I’m sorry you were made to feel weird for your beliefs at the conference. I think the lunatics on both side have taken over the media to the extent that we forget that most of us just want to do the right thing and aren’t as far apart as we’re made out to be.
I like it that you’re so clear on where you stand. You know who you are and you know how to articulate it. I’m seeing more that perhaps the issues are the same but the methods of addressing the issues are different.
I don’t have a problem in paying taxes. I just want better control over how our money is spent. I don’t want national healthcare but I do want options so that every citizen has the right to healthcare. Etc., etc. I actually have a little hope for the future. If we can just replace the politicians in office with bloggers 🙂
1. Are you confident in your political views? Yes. 2. Do you feel comfortable talking about your views? Yes. 3. Can you share where you are on the political spectrum? My party affiliation is republican, but I consider myself a moderate conservative. Basically, I support the right of gays to have smaller government, pay less taxes, have early term abortions and own badass guns 😉 4. Can you do it without taking shots at those that don’t share your views? Usually.
So you’re saying that only gays should have rights? 😉
I’m a demopublican. Or a republicrat.
My voter registration card says “Unaffiliated.” I guess I’m just not cut out to be a joiner.
They broke the mold with you, Tiffany. But I quite like the sound of republicrat. I think I’ll take it.
I think why it’s so difficult to discuss politics you nail right on the head: “I know what I support and WHY I support.” 1. Confidence comes from staying informed. Political punditry (from either side) is not a source of facts. 2. It is a privilege many take for granted to live in a country where we have the right to openly share our views and critique (within our own parties, too). It’s our responsibility to be a part of the informed discussion. 3. I am a liberal Democrat. (I hate that the words liberal or conservative have become pejoratives.) 4. I believe that taking shots is done by those who speak without facts. Ignorance makes people scared. The more we all know, the more we can bring to the conversation. I find that a great thing.
Fadra, thank you for writing about this because I think it dispels the myth that Democrats and Republicans are incapable of discourse. It is just too simplistic a view.
Actually YOU hit the nail on the head. I’m not always as informed as I’d like to be and I don’t want to ever misspeak. The problem is that it’s difficult to find unbiased news sources even in the news (although the closest thing I’ve found to it is BBC News).
Discussion is all I ever want. Not debate (unless I’ve had some wine) and certainly not conflict. I’ll have to think of where to take this discussion next.
I think that NPR and BBC do the best at reporting not only politics but also international news. Most US news coverage is SO insulated. I prefer print media to TV for the most part. Do you read THE WEEK? It covers a broad range of subjects in a succinct format. They have a website, too. Harper’s might seem more liberal leaning, but there’s a reason it is the longest running magazine in US history. The content is truly thought provoking and so well written.
FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com are brilliant- the snopes of the political world. There are a number of fact checking sites out there but many have a partisan agenda. If anything, bookmark those and you will find yourself able to get a better picture of whatever news bites are floating around.
I love this post! LOVE IT!!!
And this post loves you right back 🙂
I’m confident in my views, but I wish I were more eloquent in speaking about them. I’m a progressive Democrat, and I pretty much agree with everything Catherine said. I think the Tea Party, with their lack of compassion, and the Republicans in congress, with their “sure, we’ll destroy this country as long as the other guys lose” attitude are giving rational Republicans a bad name. The media and sound bites I hear make me forget that thoughtful, intelligent Republicans (like you, Fadra) exist. I’ll bet this would be a very different country if women were the majority in government. I think we’re more able to listen and compromise.
And you, Amy, you aren’t one of those nutty liberals that attends strange festivals in the desert 😉
There are stereotypes on both sides and that’s what the media focuses on. And it’s what most people focus on. This conversation really helps me understand how much closer the two “sides” are than I ever thought before. So it’s been eye-opening for me as well.
I’m very much like you. In fact, I think I was sitting at the table and we whispered about how we felt like we couldn’t speak up about our political ideals because they weren’t cut and dry one way or another. I am very socially liberal and very fiscally conservative and VERY pro-small-government. That puts me in the Libertarian category if I have to be defined. I do vote Republican typically, though, if there isn’t a Libertarian candidate who has a chance of winning (which is almost never).
I’m not comfortable talking about it on Social Media because in my observations one is either one way or another — to the extreme. On Twitter, most of my friends are extremely liberal and on FB, extremely conservative. At least those are the people who tend to speak out about it. I know there are a LOT more like me and you who fall middle of the road and feel somewhat silenced by it.
I think it says a lot that I’m very nervous even putting THIS out there. That’s how little I like to talk about politics in online (or IRL) settings. Whew. But there it is.
Ha! I have admit that I don’t seriously look at the Libertarian party because I know they won’t win an election. Yes, you were my Republican cohort and I’m glad you were there. Safety in numbers? It is a touchy subject. We are all so open about so many things in the blogosphere and yet this is one frontier that people are afraid of. I was a little nervous too but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the comments I’ve received from both sides.
First of all, kudos for tackling the subject in a real and honest way (like I see you do all the time).
Are you confident in your political views?
No. I’m confident in what I believe. Politics is necessarily about compromise, and I feel that if I get too rigid in my views or too sure of myself, I’d lose the ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Sadly, that’s what I’m thinking a lot of politicians that are on the talk shows have fallen victim to – which is why I no longer watch the talk shows.
Do you feel comfortable talking about your views?
I feel comfortable in talking about my beliefs and my perspective. I don’t assume I’m always correct, so I allow for some room to grow & learn. That said, I will turn off a hard-sell “I’m right and you are wrong” argument in a skinny second.
Can you share where you are on the political spectrum?
A little left of center.
Can you do it without taking shots at those that don’t share your views? Probably. I have a great respect for other people’s views, and I enjoy learning from others. I do prefer that attitude in others as well. And I’m already learning from reading the comments on the post. Well done, Fadra!
Tom – what a brilliant statement. Your beliefs are your core. It’s how you feel about helping and serving your country, your family, and your fellow man. Politics are one way to facilitate that and I’d say they aren’t doing a very good job.
I often am surrounded by a more liberal crowd and I find myself silent on my beliefs because I’m always afraid of the “I’m right and you’re wrong” debate. I’m trying to find more constructive ways to open up the paths of discussion!
Thank you, Fadra! I look forward to less of the “you’re right/you’re wrong” and more of “I see your point, now here’s my view.” I think more Americans are thinking like that, only they don’t get the exciting coverage because they’re not wearing silly hats or something.
My boss is a proud conservative Republican. I’m a proud liberal Democrat. And we are able to have open banter (some gentle ribbing) and some deeper conversations. I’m surprised how much we agree. And it is *I* who has to be reminded not to have a bad case of “rightitis.”
I love that you can rib each other. Bottom line is our political views don’t make us more or less of a person (which is what it often boils down to in public debates). It just makes us different.
I am very confident on the things I have an opinion about. I haven’t decided how I feel about some things, and I am okay with that, too. I am careful who I discuss politics with. I try to assess the person’s true intent before doing so. I refuse to argue about them. Discuss, even heatedly, is okay. As long as all parties are being respectful it’s fine. I am slightly to the right of center. I always to try treat people with respect, no matter what we’re discussing. I don’t always succeed, but I’m trying.
You are EXACTLY where we all need to be. Listening, talking, maybe even debating but with respect. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and certainly to disagree. It doesn’t mean one person is wrong and one is right.
[…] of negative emotion or really polarizes people. And I’m totally fine with that. Sometimes I dabble in politics (based purely on opinion, I’m by no means a political analyst) or I reflect on a current […]