In the most interesting election year in my lifetime, I made a conscious effort to NOT post so much about politics. Yeah …I have that kind of timing with everything. But here are 10 things I have learned this election season:
1. YOU CAN’T AFFECT CHANGE IN SOMONE WHILE YOUR’E INSULTING THEM.
People posting insulting things about their opponents, hoping to sway the opponents’ opinions to their side, has never made sense to me. Nobody ever thought to themselves, “he just called me an ignorant asshat. Gees …I must be wrong. That’s it …I’m changing my mind!” It doesn’t work that way. All you did, with your insulting post, was make yourself FEEL better or smarter or superior. But every time you post an insult, you become a little bit more of what you think you hate.
2. CLICHES DEHUMANIZE US.
I appreciate anyone who makes their case in a positive, cogent manner. I will listen to them. But I fear all those “mic drop” memes, where some complicated, multi-textural issue is distilled down into 4 lines that put the whole thing into the improper context, might be dumbing us down and making us enraged, all at the same time. They’re like little bumps of anger cocaine and they’re driving us toward insanity. At least it seems that way.
3. WE LIKE EACH OTHER MORE IN PERSON THAN WE DO ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
I would always rather talk about important, political, social or faith issues …face to face. There’s something about sharing the same oxygen with someone, and looking into their eyes that makes everything coming out of your mouth a bit more thoughtful and less reckless. Five dudes sitting around a poker table, sipping beer, can disagree on something with more empathy and understanding than they can going back and forth on a comments thread. Same for chicks.
PS …using the word “chicks” is more inflammatory in PRINT than it would be in the course of a face-to-face conversation.
4. EVERYONE CAME TO THEIR POLITICS IN A REAL WAY.
If you scratch just below the surface of any political post, you’ll find a reason for it. A real one. I can tell you EXACTLY why my politics are what they are. And I would imagine the same is true for everyone. I, for one, don’t discount someone’s personal experience …even if I might disagree with their remedy.
5. LINKS ARE NOT NECESSARILY FACTS.
The thoughtful among us, seeking absolute truth, love to share links that refute this claim or that one. For the link-happy, keep this in mind …I personally know of entertainment projects where part of the marketing campaign has been to create false news reports and “reputable looking” articles, citing facts and figures that are simply made up, to make the project look legit. This happens. Don’t think it doesn’t.
These days you must be VERY savvy about the news. EVERYONE HAS AN AGENDA. Walter Cronkite had one. The New York Times has one. Your favorite blogger or cable personality has one. Your local paper has one. Nobody is completely objective …not even me.
6. ONCE WE KNOW WHO YOUR CANDIDATE IS …WE’VE GOT IT. THANKS.
Maybe the saddest part of this campaign for me has been watching how many people have made politics their religion …their life …their savior …their everything.
Look, I’m all for political activism. I’m politically active. I vote. I write blogs. I speak my mind. But then, I sip whiskey and tell jokes. I post funny stuff. I accept …even embrace …the absurdity of it all. I play with my kids. I write songs. I go to the gym. I read books. I write books. And I laugh …as much as I can.
Life’s too short, my friends. The slaves are free. Women can vote. Alcohol is legal again. We beat the Nazis (well, most of them). Do we have problems? Sure. Big ones. But we’ve also got some good times to toast.
The Cubs just won the World Series. The future is wide open and anything is possible. Lighten up, folks.
7. WE PROBABLY OWE RICHARD NIXON AN APOLOGY.
Someone very close to me said, just this past week (and this is a DIRECT QUOTE), “I don’t care if Hillary Clinton turns out to be a criminal. I think she probably did it all for the right reasons and she’s still my choice.”
That is sadly the sentiment of many …on both sides. So let’s stop pretending we care about corruption. It only matters when it’s the other guy …or girl. Clinton and Trump may both turn out to be pure as the driven snow. But WE were ready to defend and justify them to the end, whether they were or not. So, Mr Nixon …we’re sorry. You were just born too early.
PS …this has all made Fred Thomson, the REPUBLICAN who brought down the Nixon administration with the words, “what did he know and when did he know it?” look like one of the greatest patriots of our generation. He crossed party lines to stand up for ethics and the law. Kudos to you, Fred. We need more like you.
8. WE DEFINITELY OWE GARY HART AN APOLOGY.
Gary Hart simply having a mistress seems quaint, now. These days, he would be considered some naive character on Little House On The Prairie. With all the sexual deviance we’re having to explain to our children, I’d LOVE to be able to just distill it down to a simple, “He fell in love with a different lady than his wife. Sometimes that happens with grown ups.”
Oh, for the good ‘ol days.
9. WE SHOULD HAVE MORE RESPECT FOR CANADA.
People have been throwing this “I’m moving to Canada” thing around like Canada is our own personal safety valve, without its own value. They also assume Canada even wants us there.
Listen, Canada is a wonderful country, full of wonderful people, who CHOOSE to live there ALL THE TIME …not just when they don’t get their way in America. Saying you’re moving to Canada if your candidate doesn’t get elected is like saying to a girl, “Look sweetheart, you’re a solid 7. But as long as I have the right president, there’s NO WAY I’m leaving this 10. Now, if it goes the wrong way …well …you DO have great eyes and a tight body. I’d do you.”
Personally, I think Canada is a very sweet girl with a great personality and a lot to offer. Americans should stop treating her like a runner up. Either move up there and be proud to call Canada home, or stay in America and make this dysfunctional marriage, to this crazy, alcoholic, drug-addicted super model, work …regardless of who wins or loses the presidency.
And for the celebrities who have promised to move there …well …we all thought you lived there already. Didn’t everybody move in 2004, after George W Bush won his second term?
Also, just an FYI …Canada is a sovereign nation with borders, laws and citizenship rules. I’m sure you can’t just walk across the border and start living there without doing some paper work and letting the government know you’re there. Hmmm …what an interesting concept.
10. “UNFRIENDING” IS NOT THE ANSWER.
When I was on the debating team, in high school, we would have to debate BOTH sides of any given topic. That forces you to humanize and rationalize your opposition. And you learn things in the process. And sometimes, you even change your perspective because of it. We should all have to be on a debating team for a bit. If we’re only going to keep polishing our own echo chamber, we won’t get better. We won’t get smarter. We won’t engage in critical thought.
I still love all my friends. And I’m not unfriending anyone (unless they call for the death of someone or say something wildly inappropriate about my family …this is well established Regie Hamm policy).
But no matter who wins this election, they’re going to let you down …and bad stuff is still going to happen. Count on it.
We’ve been acting like if our candidate wins, the other side will just cease to exist. Well, guess what? They won’t. And someone is going to have to become president of everyone.
Here in the cyber world, we’ve got to learn to live together …or we will all die alone.
Okay …that’s a line from LOST. But they didn’t put the Face Book disclaimer on it …so I’m using it.
Happy election day!