Presidential politics: Can't we all just get along? Or chill out, at least?
My man, Obama.
"I hate Republicans."
I don't know how many times I've uttered those words during this election season (though more so when Perry and Santorum were still campaigning, because my uterus was screaming in unison with the rest of me). But really, as a bleeding-heart liberal who believes in education, health care, equity and dignity for all, how can I be the one spewing the hate? As a person who marched in SlutWalk 2011, stood by my homosexual honey's side at the Capitol for twelve hours in support of civil unions and is preparing to get Silence = Death tattooed on her arm, how can I be the one projecting verbal prejudice?
The answer is, I don't know. But my own intolerance has to stop.
You heard the meme: Like grandma or SHE DIES.
In a reading-headlines-only Internet world, memes have become our shared sentiments. "If you don't 'like' this, you're an idiot" seems to be Facebook's statement of the decade -- when in reality (if there is any on social networking), we don't have to 'like' anything to make it come true. We don't and shouldn't unite over misinformation. But when participating in political conversation on the Internet, we do.
While I was folding shirts at Shirt Folding Store recently, I got into a political conversation with some co-workers by accident. The store had received a new line of dress shirts for women, one of which had an elephant pattern all over it. It sold out almost immediately, and my co-worker Maggie was super-bummed she didn't grab one before they were gone.
I told Maggie she should be glad she didn't buy one, because our boss did -- and every time she's worn it, some stranger makes a comment about "how nice it is to see a young Republican out there in the world." Who would want to be confused with, gasp, a Republican?
Turns out, Maggie is a Republican. For a moment, my view of her changed.
Wait. There's a Republican in our midst? How could I fold shirts next to a Republican? Especially in a corporate retail store that has essentially been out of the closet since the '90s? I mean, we have queer co-workers! I'm an ally! Why is Republican Maggie working at Shirt Folding Store?
But there was a better question: Why was I getting so freaked out over the fact that I had a co-worker who happened to be a Republican? Who cares? Shirts can't fold themselves, and they certainly don't discriminate against who folds them. If Republicans and Democrats can co-exist peacefully in the microcosm of Shirt Folding Store and not even know it, why can't they co-exist the same way outside the store? And maybe even have actual conversations about issues, not 'likes' and hate speech?
Yesterday, while I was giving my usual six hours of undivided attention to Colorado Public Radio -- and let's face it, if you're a liberal in Colorado, your radio is permanently stuck on 90.1 FM -- host Ryan Warner spoke to Julio Marenco of Spanish-language news service NTN24 and Alan Fisher of Al Jazeera English. He asked the foreign journalists for their take on the current presidential campaign, and the effect the debates might have on those outside the U.S.
Basically, Fisher said, everybody has made up their minds, and these debates are a test of who can look better to the voters each party has effectively captured already -- which is probably how most of us who are planning on voting feel, too, right? So why in the hell have we had to be so mean to each other just to get to this point?
The answer is, we didn't. And we still don't have to be mean, we don't have to yell, we don't have to tell people who don't agree with us that their grandma will die a horrible Magic-Eight Ball-That-Is-Facebook death if they don't click into our rhetoric. Instead, what we can do is speak eloquently and with facts rather than verbally beat each other up while displaying our own insecurities and insanity.
Sure, I want every person who has a problem understanding my desire for the sole proprietorship of my body to get a clue. But the best way I'm going to make that happen? By voting. If it's not obvious by what I've stated here, I'm not just an Obama supporter, I'm a Barack maniac. I love that guy. And I love Michelle. For a lot of reasons, but mainly because I know they support my existence on this planet as a woman.
But this column is not a call for a political discussion, or to force my nutso liberal views on anyone reading it. This column is not to tell you who to vote for. This column is to ask everyone to do two simple things: Chill the fuck out, and then please, on November 6, exercise your right to vote. Millions of people across the world don't have the luxury.
If you can stand in line for hours for a phone, a pair of shoes or a great deal on a snowboard, you can stand in line for 45 minutes and do your civic duty.
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