It appears we are on the cusp of a pretty big deal election here in the States. My Facebook feed is littered with news clips and sound bites and shares of this politician or that reality star or someone saying something crappy about someone else or someone politician A being supported by this group or that celebrity. To be honest, it all got to be a bit much for me a few weeks ago. I unsubscribed from every single politically-oriented feed I could (save The New Yorker and NPR). I had to. I was getting angry and outraged over things that mattered and things that didn’t. It was affecting me in way it never has before.
I love politics. I’ve always been pretty involved with election cycles. My first presidential election was in 2000. I voted for W. I regret nothing. In 2004, I again voted for W. I regret nothing. In 2008, I was torn between Obama and Hillary, voted Obama in the primary and then again in the general. I regret nothing. In 2012, I voted the crap out of Obama. I regret nothing.
Until 2008, I was a pretty solid Republican. I was raised in a conservative home with conservative values. I was also raised in a Christian home, but I refuse to equate conservative with Christian or vice versa. But as with many things, I grew and studied and researched and…changed my mind. Well, I changed my mind on some things. On others, I remain staunchly conservative.
So when the 2008 election cycle (literally) rolled through town, I went all out. I talked to whomever would listen. I watched all the debates. I spent a great deal of time in downtown Denver with friends, watching the show and even catching glimpses of political heavyweights. I went to my first ever presidential rally after Obama clinched the nomination. I was glued to The Daily Show’s coverage of the election. I went to an election night party. Basically, I threw all my cheerleading expertise and fervor into the 2008 election.
I’ve always kind of wanted to be involved in a campaign. Calling people, asking for donations, attending events and rallies…all of it just sounds exciting! I’ve had an itch for politics since I was in high school (which is strange because the high school I went to didn’t offer anything related to government, except for student council, of which I was a member for 6 years) so it’s not surprising that I’ve found something other than football to put my weight behind. The problem for me has always been time. Now moreso than ever. It sounds like an excuse (and maybe it is), but it’s my reality. I have the tiny human that take a significant portion of my time and energy…and I’m more than willing to give it to her. I’m also very, very torn between candidates this cycle. Or, at least, I was up until about a week ago. That makes it hard to throw myself at a specific campaign.
So I choose, instead, to involve myself in other ways. I religiously watch every debate and town hall on both sides (I’ve only missed two – one from each – and that’s because I’ve been disgustingly sick). I think it’s vital to listen to everyone’s stance on a variety of issues. Sure, I identify as Democratic these days, but there was a time when I didn’t (when – *GASP* – I actually thought Ann Coulter had something valuable to offer…we all make mistakes). My mind was changed. I’m not above thinking it can’t be changed again. Of the many things I hate about American politics, its fluidity and evolution is one thing I don’t hate.
Instead of investing in a single campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with several of my friends during each of this cycle’s debates and town halls. I think I’ve unofficially become the person that organizes these debate threads (and have already been tapped to host an election night party). It’s a fun group to be involved with…there are socialists, atheists, Christians, conservatives, liberals, middle-of-the-roaders, some that aren’t sure, some that don’t care, men, women. We challenge each other without insulting each other. We rein each other in when we get too combative or too sensitive. We make caustic jokes. We’re often “inappropriate.”
But maybe most importantly, we engage and inform. We offer different points of view. We listen. We respect.
And when I think about how I want to be involved in politics, this is it. I want my daughter to see (though she’s often in bed by the time all this goes down) that politics are/is important. I want her to know that it’s fine to rest on your laurels, but it’s also wise to listen (nay, HEAR) another perspective. I want her to know that she needs to hear opinions and facts that oppose her worldview…because she needs to either be able to defend her position or concede it.
I just want to be and raise a person that’s a contributing member of society.