This week I was asked by the editors to write something political in honor of the upcoming U.S. election. I hated this assignment. Regardless, I have to add SOMETHING to the mix of political articles this week. So here goes.
I rarely talk about things like politics. I will bring the subject into my stage act when appropriate. As for general public discussion topics, I simply try to excuse myself from the conversations. I am not worried about looking stupid or under informed. In fact I relish the thought of making foolish people look even more foolish by verbally assaulting them myself. No, I avoid the conversations because I dont like being forced to judge a person or alter my statements because of their views.
Most people who take the time to become politically active are not unlike militant vegetarians or reformed smokers. They generally dont care what your views are. They just want YOU to believe theirs. They take every opportunity to try and bring you to their way of thinking and cannot abide by anyone who doesnt see things their way.
When my friends bring politics into our conversations, it forces me to think of them in different ways. Suddenly I have to take their views into consideration regardless of whether or not they are similar to my own. I am not saying that I dont generally take other peoples feelings into account. I am just saying that when the political views become so blatantly worn on the sleeves of my friends, I have NO CHOICE but to dance round certain topics for fear of engaging in pointless arguments or losing a friend altogether.
This may sound strange on the surface, but in reality it is quite common. Most people tend to treat their political affiliations with the same vigor they treat their sports teams. There is this odd team mentality that takes place when discussing politics. There is never any consideration for the needs of the many or the betterment of the countrys population as a whole. There is only a my way or the highway train of thought surrounding ones politics. It is for that reason I go out of my way to avoid the topic. I hate having to label my friends and steer my conversations to avoid conflict.
But wait! Will there always be conflict? Shouldnt conflict lead to intelligent discourse that may broaden the horizons of the participants? Hell no! That sounds great, but it doesnt work. Ill cite some examples of how perversely and deeply rooted a persons politics can be.
I have a good friend - one with whom I must now avoid all heavy topics because of his aggressive beliefs. He, like his father before him, is a staunch conservative Republican. Hes so Republican that he becomes incensed with rage at the thought of watching the film, The Day After Tomorrow due to its liberal view of the environment and the political lies about global warming (His words, not my own.). I try to tell him something simple and non-political like, It is ONLY a movie. but hed have none of it. Apparently films cannot have any fiction based on ideas if they are not ideas that follow his party lines.
Now if my friendship with this guy was based solely on his movie choices Id have sent him packing long ago. He tried to get me to watch Titanic because it was an ACTION MOVIE and not a sappy romance. I guess because James Cameron directed it and there was a gun in the film, it MUST be an action film. My wife tried to tell him that Thelma & Louise had guns in it, too, but that wasnt an action film. My friend just scoffed. I digress.
He also comes from a family that is prone to extreme gestures to back up their politics. His dad bought a new dog and named him Buddy. They loved that little dog and taught "Buddy" to fetch & play like all other dogs. They got him to answer to commands, which any good animal trainer will tell you is somewhat dependant on the animal learning the command and, more importantly, his name.
Well, not too soon after getting Buddy to answer to "Buddy" and know beyond any shadow of a doubt who Buddy was, word got out that President Bill Clinton got a new dog and named him - you guessed it - "BUDDY"! What? A D E M O C R A T naming a dog 'Buddy,' said the dad? I cant have such a shameful thing happen to this family. I MUST do something! Immediately the non-Presidential "Buddy" became Mr. Bud and the dog has never been the same. Im sure at this very moment the damn dog is banging his head walking into end tables out of sheer confusion. This is just a small example of how making politics a priority can ruin a life.
Whats worse is that my friend cant even admit publicly that he is a conservative Republican. Hell say that he TENDS to be more conservative but wont call himself a conservative. If you ask him which Democrat or Independent candidates hes ever voted for over the years, there are no names on the list, but hes, open to all sides of an issue. He loves The Drudge Report and never misses an episode of Rush Limbaugh, Hannity & Colmes, and Crossfire - but hes not a Republican. When the news is on his TV, it is the fair & balanced Fox News - but hes not a Republican.
Why is it so hard for him to admit hes a Republican? Most of his friends are not. Many women he tries to date are not. Many people he works with are not. Those that ARE Republicans cant stand being around someone who is SO into politics that simple conversations become epic battles between good and evil. So not only is my life affected by his politics, but clearly his life is adversely altered. He certainly has friends, but it has more to do with him than his politics. Once the politics come out, the party is over!
Sadly, the older I get, the harder it is to be friends with someone and NOT have their very PERSONAL beliefs become an issue. Still, why does it have to be so divisive? Why am I the ONLY one that seems to know that the good of the country must come before the good of the party?
Anyway, I cant comment much about the upcoming Presidential election. This is not because I want to remain objective or because I havent made up my mind. I cant comment because everyone is so up in arms about false issues, my ideas would go unnoticed, even if this were the New York Times.
Honestly, how many of us REALLY have to worry about gay marriage or which guy fought in the Vietnam war? Do any of us care if Cheneys daughter is a lesbian? Weve been fooled again by the system and Im tired of watching intelligent people become drooling morons when talking about these issues.
What matters to most people are things like health care. I dont have ANY health insurance; I cant afford it and, with the way the economy is going, I doubt I ever will be able to afford coverage. Am I the only one with this problem? If you are like me, then you should look into voting for a candidate who is most likely to help you.
Speaking of health issues, I had a family member die from Diabetes. I have friends with Cancer. I know people who are dying from degenerative diseases caused by pollutants in the air. Have we heard much about how we can put all of our vast technological knowledge to solve these problems? Are you insulted that we can create a little box that will hold 10,000 music files but we cant cure Cancer? Am I the only one with dead relatives and dying friends? If not, then maybe you should choose a candidate that is as interested in the problems as you are.
I am fortunate enough NOT to have any friends or family in the military right now. However, I am afraid that could change soon. Are you like me or do you have an extra person or two to pray for because of the war? Maybe you should look at a candidate that wants to do something about this war and bring your loved ones home safely.
Do you have a mortgage? Are your gas prices too high? Are you upset with the Patriot Act? Are you worried about your freedom of speech being taken away? Are your taxes too high? Are your children getting a good education? Can you afford your prescriptions?
Are you a veteran - one of the heroes to whom we owe EVERYTHING - and your benefits are decreasing? Am I starting to point out a HUGE problem with this election to you yet?
I normally think of election years as inconveniences to my entertainment business. My business is always affected during an election year. People always hang on to their money until after an election and never know if theres any cash in their budgets for entertainment at their various functions. I guess that people think that the world will come to an end on election day. This year, it actually might.
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