I admit that I’m no fan of politics, probably because I understand it just about as well as I understand trigonometry, which means I don’t understand it at all. If I’m in the room when two people get into a heated political argument, it takes very little time for me to be so overwhelmed by the points, counter points and accusations being flung back and forth that I just tune out. (Which is exactly same reaction I have if someone is trying to explain trigonometry to me.) But while I might not understand all the intricate workings of the American political system, I can’t help but notice that there are certain patterns to the way that many people deal with politics, and I thought I’d pass those along.
First of all, I’ve learned that words are very important. If the candidate you like says something untrue, then he or she “misspoke.” But if the candidate you don’t like says something untrue, then he or she “lied.” Similarly, the candidate you like has “friends,” while the candidate you don’t like has only “cronies.” The one word that is never uttered is “hypocrite,” for obvious reasons.
Viewpoint is also important. If you like the current President, then everything that is wrong with our country is blamed on Congress. If you don’t like the current President, then everything that is wrong with our country is blamed on the President. If both the President and majority of Congress are members of the party you vote for, then everything that is wrong with our country is blamed on some other group. At the moment, the two most popular scapegoat choices seemed to be immigrants and the rich. (And “the rich” means anyone with more money than you.)
Constantly sharing your political opinions is considered a good thing. Posting them daily on Facebook, working them into every casual discussion, and speaking up at family dinners with a pleasant conversation starter such as “Candidate X is a complete moron who will ruin our country” is apparently very necessary. We all know how short attention spans are these days, so it’s best not to trust anyone to remember how we think they should vote, and why, just because we told them so yesterday. I think this is the same rationale used by the groups that make watching TV during an election years so fun by running the exact same campaign ad five times in a row.
Finally, be sure to idolize your favorite political candidate and absolutely do not tolerate any criticism of him or her. If someone persists in sharing facts that tarnish your idol, try name-calling. (What worked in kindergarten can also work now. ) Better yet, distance yourself from anyone who doesn’t share your political views, no matter who they are. You probably have more close friends and relatives than you need anyway.
Again, I am certainly no expert on politics, and am just reporting what I have observed. There also seems to be an alternative model for being politically active, which involves simply supporting and even campaigning for the candidate of your choice without abandoning good manners or common sense. I’m lucky enough to know several people who fall into that category. And if I were ever forced to become more involved in politics, that’s the group I would hope to join. Sometimes it’s good to be in the minority.