An interesting thing happened to me the other day and it got my brain churning. I had an exchange with a close friend about the election. I had not shared with her who I was supporting in the primary but another close friend had told her. I’m in no way ashamed to say I support Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election. However, no questions asked the conversation started by calling me a masochist for supporting Clinton. Understandably, I immediately went on the defensive. This discussion began in the form of an attack and made me not even want to entertain it. After some debate, this same friend informed me she wasn’t even voting on Super Tuesday and knew nothing about any of the presidential candidates. I voted for Clinton on Super Tuesday and I was deeply torn between her and Barack Obama. She approached the conversation not as a dialogue but in the way that so many extreme right and left wingers do, attacking. Assumptions were made and name calling began...The interaction was reminiscient of the political talk shows appearing on major television networks.
American Heritage Dictionary
de·moc·ra·cy (dĭ-mŏk'rə-sē) Pronunciation Key
n. pl. de·moc·ra·cies
1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
2. A political or social unit that has such a government.
3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
4. Majority rule.
5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.
The United States needs to head into a new direction and a revolution needs to take place.
American Heritage Dictionary
rev·o·lu·tion (rěv'ə-lōō'shən) Pronunciation Key
1. a. Orbital motion about a point, especially as distinguished from axial rotation: the planetary revolution about the sun.
b. turning or rotational motion about an axis.
c. A single complete cycle of such orbital or axial motion.
2. The overthrow of one government and its replacement with another.
3. A sudden or momentous change in a situation: the revolution in computer technology.
4. Geology A time of major crustal deformation, when folds and faults are formed.
I want to take this time to focus on the fifth definition of the word democracy and the third definition of revolution. The anticipated record turn out for the current election is due in no small part to the idea that change is coming, change on a seismic scale. So prevalent is this idea, that every person running has adopted it into their campaign. To me the two democratic candidates offer the most exciting possibilities for change that we have ever had. In the history of this country we have never had seriously viable candidates who were women or people of color, and now we have BOTH in one year.
Many of my friends were shocked to find out I was voting for Clinton and not Obama, and most assumed I would vote for Obama. I am not one to preach to friends about who I am voting for in an election and don’t tell them for whom they should or shouldn’t vote. I respect an individual’s right to choose from abortion to elections. I have to trust the people, even if it is a far fetching dream, will make an educated decision based on research they have done and not just listening to celebrities throwing around their endorsements for the candidates as if it were a multimillion dollar shoe contract.
I understand talking about politics can turn into a heated debate and some people are more passionate than others. People, and I do mean everyone, need to keep in mind that in a democracy, if we are truly trying to live in one, respect needs to be given to the individual members of the community even when your views differ. DIALOGUE is the best path to resolution. You might actually come away from it understanding the other point of view. You don’t have to agree but understanding can be far more valuable.
Personally, I am not one to talk politics with my friends. I choose not too because I know that conversation can go south very quickly. In past experiences, some of the people I respected most judged me based on my views. My identity, my queer identity, has been questioned when I haven’t agreed with friends on community or political issues to doing something like attending mass. I always thought part of the beauty of being a member of the queer COMMUNITY was that we respected each others differences, but I know not everyone may feel that way.
I know the members of Queertoday and other parts of the community at large feel very strongly about the upcoming election and want a change. We want change of epic proportions and wish it had happened yesterday.
Sometimes it’s ok to agree on disagreeing especially if in the end we are on the same side. If we felt the same way about everything all the time, we would have the same boring conversations over and over again. We are a passionate group of diverse individuals and it can be difficult to stay level headed and calm when talking politics or about anything we believe in. I offer this as food for thought, next time you want to engage someone in an issue you feel strongly about instead of attacking the person you are speaking with engage them in an adult conversation, ask questions, don’t make assumptions as to why they are making the choice they made, and lay off the name calling. Only then, can a true open and honest dialogue begin.
Our society is not perfect, we are far from it, but if we can’t at least respect each other and our difference in opinions than we are no better than people who hate us for being who we are.
I will leave you with this, educate yourself on the issues which affect us and vote! Let your voice be heard because as an individual you are the only one that can be the cause of change. It’s hard to have faith in our electoral process, especially given the events of the last two presidential elections, but if you give up and do nothing, if you do not exercise your right to vote, if you do not participate in this larger societal dialogue, then you have chosen to remain silent and have no right to complain because you, yourself have failed to be an instrument of change and your voice will be lost.