"If you never change your mind, why have one?" Edward De Bono
I was a political misfit, and mess, several years before I settled into my current groove (with some tweaking here and there). How I got here, is something I've reflected on lately, along with inquiring of others how they arrived at their political angle. Astonishingly enough, most don't recall. How the heck do we end up preferring one political affiliation over another? What I've realized is eye-opening.
Part of my 'Honestly Laura' duty, and inspiration, is assisting others not see my point of view, but rather to step outside of their comfort zone, challenge their own thoughts and viewpoints (ones they've probably accepted through life and never gave a second thought), and either become more grounded in their beliefs or heaven forbid change their outlook because it was truly built on a shaky (or flawed) foundation in the first place.
The peak of my political awareness arrived in the form of a man named Jim Brown. I met Jim on Hubpages, where we both began blogging. He has as strong a personality as my own, which made our discussions interesting. At the time, his politics weren't necessarily in line with my own. But as he brought up legitimate fact after fact (I love facts and I double-check sources due to my background in science), I came to terms with some screwed up notions I was carrying around.
Here were my thoughts prior to 10ish years ago:
I'm not stating there's a right way, wrong way, or the only way, but I'm simply acknowledging how erroneously I had come to my own political stance. It was based on nothing, other than maybe my need to be seen as a generous person (Republicans are old scrooges, right?!). In fact I had never really thought about it...and Jim made me think about my weak conclusions. He asked questions I couldn't answer...
I was doubtful. I was stubborn as usual, and reluctant. But I didn't run away. I listened. I searched. I wasn't afraid of opening my mind to new ideas- I'm still not. I wasn't forcing my own ideas down his throat nor was he. It was a very mutual dialogue. I am also not a follower so I don't change my mind on a whim. I didn't, however, cling to my formerly held political beliefs, block Jim from my online existence, or claim he was being offensive for not agreeing with me!
All too often I run across people who stand firm on their political affiliation, yet can't or won't support those beliefs, especially if countered by others. Then I wonder, how do they get their politics? What makes someone a democrat, an independent, or a Republican?
Because of my past error in judgment, I still consider both sides of the coin, and continuously research as close to a non-bias answer as I can get.
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR POLITICS?
Assumptions and Flawed Conclusions: I've got to mention this first because it was totally me! I assumed Democrats were associated with the 'nice people' who cared about each other, their pets, and the environment. I have to admit, it's still a happy, shiny place to be in our society- Democrats are largely perceived in this way thanks to the average media we're exposed to.
The Republicans are portrayed so angry and fed-up all the time, the Independent so listless and apathetic like they've given up on the system, and the Democrats who make up a large percentage of the celebrities we like are associated with positivity compared to other parties.
Watching a few videos (one of my faves: Watch here) recently made me realize this 'assumption' point is related to our youth. They draw inaccurate conclusions because they don't take the time to read, reflect, or search for answers and facts. Ugh, I've got to say what all youth hate to hear: You don't have the experience and knowledge yet. Sorry!
A 20-something says, "I don't usually get involved in politics, but..." I cringe as if being involved with the future of your country and it's leaders is beneath them. The worst thing you can do is not be involved because every other country is way more involved and knowledgeable about theirs, and our, political system than we are.
Meme's are all in good fun, but please don't use these as a political basis. There's a lot of funny meme's to support just how neurotic various candidates and presidents are/have been. I enjoy the humor, but at the end of the day, these aren't a credible source. Don't take even the serious ones too seriously. I've had discussions with people who simply argue their political perspective by posting a meme in response.
I support my cause so I vote for the candidate that supports my cause! There's a lot of 'my's' in that sentence- there is no 'MY' in USA, but there is an 'US'. I know, I mentioned I cared a lot for others in all ways, but now I'm more concerned about the greater good. This includes our future, how secure our kids are at school, the preservation of our nation, what made us the ones to beat and be, what's in the best interest for more people than just myself and even my immediate family or community, but rather my country as a whole- not a 2% or a 4%.
I waver between social issues/causes but you won't find me picking a candidate just because they are pro/or anti whatever my specific cause or worry is. When you're not researching the big picture, you're thinking small.
Part of my 'experience' was having a child. The world wasn't just about me. The so-called 'causes' were not working when applied to real life. Women can certainly have kids and hold down a job thanks to the feminist era....or so I thought. That was of no comfort when I, and other mothers, caught a lot of flak at work for not performing as well post-baby, or how about the cost of child care (typically just under a woman's wages)?
Most of the personal 'causes' I've been concerned about were never addressed by my former political affiliation. or special interest groups. It was all their agenda, which made little difference in reality. I began seeing huge holes in their tactics. A 'healthcare solution' still isn't a solution for far too many. In fact, it's another financial burden.
In theory, it works. Being nice to everyone, 'live and let live', universal kindness and acceptance works...in theory. It isn't applicable no matter how hard you try. After being walked on, door-matted, and making myself exhausted and even significantly ill, I learned the hard way that I was killing myself trying to bend over backwards being kind to people who were taking advantage me. I wised up, and no hard feelings, because that is a very human trait. For survival, we needed to take advantage of any edge we could gain.
When someone says that people just need to be kind to everyone, my thoughts roam to the pesky neighbor that I kindly reminded to turn down his music at 2am to no avail...until I got serious and wasn't so kind. It worked! And I can honestly say I got a lot by being nice, but it was draining me. I was not able to address my needs or learn the basics of assertiveness. I set no boundaries, I just did whatever I could for everyone else.
'If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all'. Oh, how I despise this!
When my daughter came home and told me about a bully, I told her to stand up for herself, and she said, "That isn't NICE". Bullies take advantage of 'nice'. They depend on others to be nice. The nice kids stay nice and the bullies get worse. Nice doesn't magically turn bullies nice. Almost all of us have been in a situation (or relationship) where we try to love somebody better.
My daughter had fallen for the 'nice' trap. There are bullies in our world, and being 'nice' is not always the answer nor does it even sometimes work. Current ways of dealing with social issues, from terrorism to refugees/immigrants, use tactics like various niceties that gloss over the issues and compound the problem.
Case by case concerns. This was something I used to fall for all the time. Through the world of science I learned about bias. We attain our political vantage point from the bias shoved in our face everyday since the technology take-over. For me, and many others, my bias was influenced by personal accounts and shared stories on the Internet or news. Oh, I feel for them hard-core!
I'd see a story about a transgender woman who longs for a different life or a mother-daughter refugee pair risking heir lives for safety. These sad stories are particularly helpful for special interest groups trying to pull at the heartstrings of caring and sympathetic individuals. Anyone who doesn't support them is potentially deemed a monster. We immediately conjure up an image of the poor person we saw or read a story about.
This doesn't, in any way, represent the big picture. If anything, it's a blatant misrepresentation, a sliver of the pie. But the general population eats it up- it causes these people to not dig deeper for more information- the refugee family came to America and took resources from a struggling American family. The transgender never had self love and was abused, but society glossed over that and forgot to mention even after SAS (sex reassignment surgery, still is depressed and unhappy).
People make emotionally driven political decisions based on a story, and the system becomes skewed in irreversible ways.
It doesn't effect me! Everything effects you. Don't be an idiot! Helping one person can hurt another. Good intentions can turn into unhealthy enabling. There is no pleasing everyone and there is no such things as, 'Do what makes you happy and let others do the same'. Hello! There are conflicting interests here.
These are just a few of the common pitfalls of the tangled political web we weave. Question yourself from time to time.
"Every time we discourage people from sharing disappointing or critical opinions with us, we are asking them to keep us in the dark. This is sensitivity’s hidden cost: The more sensitive you are, the more people will walk on eggshells around you, and the less you’ll know about where you really stand. Sensitivity invites a blackout." Jeremy Sherman, (Just Be Nice, No Thanks! May 14, 2014. Psychology Today)
Everybody needs to express themselves in some form- mine happens to be written form...with an opinion. Strong opinions can be useful to others. Those who were undecided or ambivalent can just adopt your stance or gain an ability to formulate their own. Those who disagree can solidify, defend, and empower their stance.