The Politics of Friendship
An acquaintance with whom I am usually very friendly recently found out that I am personally supporting John McCain for president. Her second shock was that I am a Republican. Upon her reaction to this startling information, I was almost tempted to check my fingers and nose to see if I had suddenly contracted leprosy and should book a room at the nearest leper colony.
This is not the first time I've been subjected to such a reaction from a liberal upon learning about my political convictions.
- In my theater group I was labeled by one person the "token conservative." (Imagine being called a token "anything else," if you will!)
- When America first went into Iraq, a co-worker at the company I worked for at the time literally would not speak to me again when he learned I supported the invasion. (Fortunately for me, he was laid off later that year.)
- Around the same time, a friend lectured me in an email that I really am "too smart" to be taken in by "jingoism" and "chickenhawks." (Yes, we are still friends. But discussing politics is verboten.)
- And how could I forget when a relative, who was invited to my house for a family dinner back in 2004, pulled my Bush/Cheney sign up from where it was planted in my front yard and hid it? When I confronted him, he laughed it off, saying I would have done the same thing if the situation had been reversed. (Can you say "projection," boys and girls?)
I'm just waiting for the inevitable "you are a racist" comment because I am not supporting Barack Obama's candidacy. How does one "prove" one is not a racist?
Can I call someone who claims John McCain is too old to run for president an "ageist"? Like the acquaintance I mention above, who declared McCain is unfit because he is "old"? I said, "So?" She then said he was "old in his thinking," but didn't elaborate and went on to talk about something else. Frankly, while I do not like his "thinking" on topics like illegal immigration and global warming, those ideas are hardly considered "old." In fact, I thought wanting to grant amnesty to illegal aliens and putting a damper on the economy in order to "save the planet" were considered hip positions among the liberal elite.
I must have missed the memo.
Perhaps I should have mentioned that if McCain is too old to run for the presidency then we should put an age limit on all federally elected officials. Once you hit 65 you must retire. That would certainly clean out a lot of old fuddy-duddies with outdated thinking on Capitol Hill. (Robert Byrd, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and John Murtha are among those who will have to go. I'm sure you can think of more on both sides of the aisle.)
But living in the bluest section of a blue state means that I am part of a very small minority, and must either learn to laugh these things off or become bitter and resentful of my fellow citizens. I suppose I could act like a typical "white" person described over at Stuff White People Like, who "spend a significant portion of their time preparing for the moment when they will be offended. They read magazines, books, and watch documentaries all in hopes that one day they will encounter a person who will say something offensive. When this happens, they can leap into action with quotes, statistics, and historical examples."
Me, I'm the kind of person who only thinks of great comebacks after the fact. Besides, I really don't enjoy getting into shouting matches about politics or much of anything else, for that matter. I'm a non-confrontational sort of person. Perhaps it has something to do with being a middle child:
Mediator, fewest pictures in the family photo album, avoids conflict, independent, extreme loyalty to the peer group, many friends.
Don't agree with someone about politics? Smile and move on to something else you have in common, like sports or trying to find a diet that works. Life's too short to make lifelong enemies over politics. At the end of the day, we're all just trying to muddle through together.