While I find it encouraging that so many people are getting riled up over primaries and the 2012 election (it means we care! We aren't all apathetic and oblivious!); I think it is going to be a long year. A long year of Facebook updates (myself included), terrible political commercials, "scandals", Republican this, Democrat that, Communist everything and misinformation from all angles. It's already gotten out of hand and we have a long ways to go!
Political (and candidate) arguments and debates, I find, are so heated because they reach into the core of who we believe ourselves to be. We place a lot of personal issues and self-definition on our decision to vote for specific people and within party lines. However, I think we also have the natural propensity to let emotions, "values" and personal gain rule over information and facts. Let me clarify: every person on the planet does this, not just one political party or one gender or one race.
That's when our political choices and causes are sometimes ill-fated and most of all, short-sighted. We get mean and exclusive. We criticize and find it impossible to compromise. We act like know it alls. We get SO hung up on one issue or ideology that all other possible points of view must be evil or stupid or Anti-American. We also get so hung up on a particular candidate that we just refuse to hear the whole story, glorifying these people that would be just like us if they weren't backed by millions of campaign dollars.
I won't pretend to be an expert in political science or economics or world cultures or even our own government's design. The last government class I took was in junior high, when I cared more about owning Gap jeans and cruising the mall. But I know a thing or two.
This post is my official plea that we can just approach this year, and the ensuing debates, with some basic Kindergarten rules for behavior:
1. Don't be a bastard. Remember that it's okay to disagree - but name calling is out of line. Don't talk to people like they are beneath you. (One of my personal pet peeves is when someone disagrees with me and their only rebuttal is to tell ME do some research. Take your own advice!)
2. Take turns. Shut up every once in awhile and listen to what someone else has to say. We love to hear our own opinions and therefore be affirmed by others that agree with us. Get into a healthy discussion about who gets to play on what part of the playground. There's this little thing called critical thinking that miraculously helps us work out difficult problems and come to a *gasp* solution.
3. Everyone is special. We are all different. We value different things. When we are parents of young children, we will accept higher property taxes in order to support the local public school. When we retire and become empty nesters, we should either move or continue funding the community at large. This thing called society needs give and take. Flexibility. Empathy.
4. Read a lot of books. Get your information from all types of sources. Watch the news network that you absolutely "can't stand" for 10 minutes, if not just to know what they are saying. Don't just listen to what your friends or your church or candidate tells you - they are biased and yes, they will sometimes lie.
5. Clean up after yourself. If you hurt someone, apologize. If you were wrong, admit it. If you made a big freakin mess with your Crayons, pick it up! Be responsible for yourself and realize that it isn't always going to be enjoyable.
That's the end of my rant. Okay, one more thing: please don't start any sentences with: All Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians/Feminists/Monkeys/Bananas think this way: (insert ideology). You don't know that and I know you wouldn't take kindly to someone saying that about you!