This subject has been on my mind for a while now. I normally don’t write about issues, but maybe that’s starting to change. Anyway, politics. I came into politics when I met Willie. He got me excited about it and I found an attractive intensity in him that reminded me of Marius Pon Merci from Les Miserables. I do remember when I was a kid I was a little confused between church leaders and Republican presidents. Once I even called Ducakis “Dukaka” to defend the Republican party of my family and my church. What I didn’t know about politics was a lot.

I still don’t confess to be any kind of expert but my personality and heart is interested less in big businesses and trickle down economics and more in caring for our poor, improving education, health care, the environment, etc. So you Republicans reading this are already thinking, What? Not Sally. As my dad says, “I don’t know what we did to have all four of our kids become liberals.” I like to remind any Mormon readers jumping to horrible stereotypes to remember President Foust was a Democrat and active member of the ACLU. Plus our church is politically neutral.

Today at Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart haters can gasp here), after a long shopping trip with a lame cart, I got out to the parking lot ready to unload and Hank’s foot was caught in a slot of the shopping cart. This happened last time and I just gave a firm push and it came out. Not today. He either got fatter in a week or my angle was all wrong but his ankle started to swell. There was no way I was going to get it out. Hank was screaming and I was about to try to find help when an older couple stopped by to see if they could help. Then another couple (both sets grandparents) then two men and finally about three Wal-Mart employees. I could not believe how many people stopped to help. Someone was holding up a sun shade to keep Hank out of the sun. Another man fetched some ice water from his car to fill my water bottle for Hank to suck on. Another man, a mechanic, drove down the street to his auto shop in search of bolt cutters. Another man was holding one of Hank’s hands while the mechanic started to cut the cart bars. By this point Hank was loving all the attention and forgot that he was stuck. The mechanic told the Wal-Mart employee, “sorry for cutting your cart.” The employee said, “I’d rather a broken cart then a hurt baby.” So they cut the bar and bent it back and I got Hank out.

How dose this relate to politics? I know we probably all had different political views. I was a textbook Democrat: a Subaru, a BPA-free camelback water bottle, and a cart full of canvas shopping bags. The only thing missing was an Obama sticker on the car and a bag of arugula. A little emergency like this brought us together no problem. I loved the people helping. I’d help them in an instant. I saw their good side. One guy even said this little one (Hank) had guardian angels.

So this situation brought a group of people together, old and young, Wal-Mart shoppers, people from Grand Junction, Americans. On the other hand politics would drive us apart. I would be an elitist (though a frugal one); I could probably find one of them to be freaky patriotic, racist or crazy into guns. The stereotypes and the passion behind politics is so dividing. I have two neighbors who have had family divisions happen because of the recent election. I get email forwards that are dripping with hate and usually in crazy fonts. I hear people talk about candidates like they aren’t real people. The whole thing can get depressing.

That doesn’t mean I throw up my hands. It doesn’t mean I don’t want someone as educated and capable and even-tempered like Obama to be my president. I just wish there was a way for our country to come together and to leave the anger and hate behind. Any ideas? I think a starting place is not to play into the negativity. For instance, don’t personally talk down candidates. Would you talk to them face to face like that? Have educated, non-emotional conversations about real political issues. If you are getting enraged, try to figure out what’s hitting a nerve. Wake up to the fact that neither party will ever have all the answers. All this is coming out right as Willie and I prepare to watch the presidential debate tonight. Maybe we’ll watch the debate and skip the commentary. (Except for The Daily Show.)

16 Comments:

  1. travis said...
    This is such a great post. I totally agree!!!

    And for the record, I'm an independent, you liberal elitist snob.
    Anonymous said...
    I have thought about the same problem, which is why, at the beginning of this campaign, I liked Obama as someone that could bring us together as Americans.

    My solution is to start or use an existing non-partisan organization to promote the causes that most all Americans can agree on, such as, eliminating earmarks or becoming energy independent or drilling for oil offshore or fixing social security. If you can find an issue that 80% of the population agrees on, then use legitimate polling to verify consensus and force Washington to vote the will of the people. Pass on promoting issues where there is a close & emotional divide, such as abortion.

    Our representatives do not look out for our interest and are influenced by money, pride and lobbyists.
    Steph said...
    Interesting ideas, anonymous.

    I don't have any of my own, just nodding in complete agreement with the sentiments in your post, Sally. I've stopped talking to most people I know about politics because of the very things you mentioned. I've been very disappointed at some things that have been said about both sides from people that I previously held in high esteem. It hurts my heart - some of these people would rather die than insult someone they know, yet they fall into this vicious trap. I am so glad that I'm married to a man who, while obsessed with the issues, couldn't care less who is delivering the lines. It helps remind me of what we're voting for - not that I know how I'm voting yet...

    That was a great story and very good analogy. I'm glad you were surrounded by so many helpful people with only Hank's well-being in mind, and I'm glad his chubby little foot is okay.
    TheAvilaFamilySD said...
    Sally, that's probably the most well rounded, educated and thought out veiw I've ever heard on the subject. Truly spoken from the heart without pressure or prejudice. If everyone could only do their own investigating, come to their own conclusions, and vote educated. You should copy this letter to the editior. It's always truly wonderful to see how old friends still live true to their passions. You deserve the amazing life your living with a beautiful family.
    The Waites said...
    I'm so glad I thought to check your blog tonight. I am up late not sleeping, feeling stressed about all that is going on in our world today. As well as, all the things I have no control over in my own life. I needed to hear something positive to help me realize that even in these seemingly desperate times there is good happening all over the world and we can't loose hope for who will lead our country. Thank you for sharing your wonderful insight on the subject. Isn't blogging fantastic.
    sara said...
    i like this post. i share really similar views. i get scared by anyone who is super into EITHER party... how can they be so sure one is right and the other is wrong? i don't like the way it polarizes us. i've found it best to just not talk politics, but then i get worried that people think i'm ignorant and don't care. oh well. better than hating each other!

    poor little hank. it sounds like such an adventure. i know people think walmart is evil but i gotta say, i think it's great. they put one in by us and everytime i go there to buy bakugan (it's a bakugan haven) i think, "none of these people would have jobs if not for walmart." plus their cereal is crazy cheap... how can you not like that?
    Sally DeFord said...
    Hey Sara, I think we do need to talk politics with people in a respectful, educated, non-emotional way. I think the fact that it is usually off limits makes is what breeds a lot of the stereotypes and bad feelings. If people only talk politics with people they agree with they get set in their ways and more close minded. With that said, I don't think it's worth talking politics with anyone that's really emotional about it and unwilling to explore different ideas.
    Christine said...
    Sally,

    I completely agree. The only way our economy will get better is to work together and not point fingers. Growing up in a very right-winged mormon home (parents still listen to Rush everyday) I didn't konw any different. Just how all different kinds of people helped you out at Walmart we can have different political views and solve our problems. We all have one thing in common. We are all Americans!
    Anonymous said...
    "caring for our poor" Another issue on which I don't think the parties are truly divided. There are people with all political leanings who are taking in needy children, giving of their time, money and energy to help those in need, and fighting to improve the lives of the poor in other countries. In the same way, there are many on all sides who are selfish, greedy for their own personal gain, and lacking in compassion for those who have physical needs here and around the world. People may disagree on how our GOVERNMENT should be involved, but on an individual level I don't think we are as different as our political leanings may make us seem.
    Jewel Stratford said...
    I am just so tired of all of the back and forth accusations and reciminations and misrepresentations. I do feel that it is our obligation to uphold eternal principles. For me, "right to life" is where I must draw the line. I believe any nation which does not protect the 'innocents' will be subject to God's condemnation. I do not feel that we have the option of "passing on the emotional issues". Everyone has to draw their own line in the sand, which is usually an amalgamation of a persons life experiences. That is why everyone has a different line. Your thoughts are well written and compelling. Good job on articulating your feelings.
    Amy said...
    What a good story, Sally. Thanks for this. This election has been so divisive, I am always happy to have a good discussion with someone that doesn't end up in anger. I wish we could be as united as we were right after September 11.
    Anonymous said...
    I'm with you, Jewel. Would any of us vote for someone who was pro-slavery just because we liked his/her economic plan? Abortion is the human rights issue of this century, and I say without shame that I am a "single issue" voter.
    Glenna said...
    Not sure why I clicked "anonymous." The above post was made by me...
    Brandy said...
    Thanks for these thoughts Sally. :)I have been frustrated with the fact that, in our general society as a whole, people can't seem to chat openly with each other w/o fear of judgment, anger, etc. A lot of people hold their thoughts in because of the emotional reaction they may get from the person they are talking to. And so it is with politics. My mom flat out refuses to talk to anyone about politics because of the way that my dad reacts to people about it and the way he tries to "convince" you that you are wrong if you don't agree with him. I think that's frustrating because there so many different reasons we all come to our own conclusions...and that part doesn't simply pertain to politics alone. I have been trying to think more about how open I am to what others have to say and how open I come across to them when I'm listening. I've found myself wanting to shut them down but worse, their feelings and that's not cool.

    So this is another reason I've come to like Obama. He's said in the beginning "let's not have politics as usual" and am glad that he doesn't react with a hot temper and bite back immediately. Does it mean that he doesn't get really upset, probably not but he does seem to respect the person if not agree with his thoughts.

    Now I'm digressing which is what I seem to do a lot these days! Thanks for spreading the love Sally. :) You really are a DEM! just teasing!
    familia Bybaran said...
    Hey, this is Jared

    I bet that everyone who helped is voting for Obama.
    DJ & Becky said...
    Sally,

    I'm so glad you shared your thoughts and political concerns. You know my political leanings this year towards the McCain-Palin Ticket and your insights are remarkable!

    My solution is to encourage everyone to live their lives inspired by the principles that make them individuals, and then be a living example to others of their beliefs (which is why I have so much respect for you and W.)

    I spent a lot of time in the middle east proudly defending the freedom to exercise our beliefs. It wasn't until I came home to the states that I experienced any political divide. When I worked shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi's I felt their excitement and anticipation to vote for the first time in decades. I knew in my heart that the freedom we helped them to attain was a right intended for all men, not just Americans. I sensed the pride they had in their country and the need they felt to be heard. While many Iraqi's had different opinions of what direction their country should take, the one's who expressed a more angry or un-popular approach were surprised and relieved to know that they could express their view without the threat of imprisonment or death.

    I believe that we are all created different for a reason. When I take the time to listen to others beliefs, I am inspired to act and move in the direction that motivates me. I can only hope that my voice will also continue to be heard.

    While I personally prefer more cordial discussions, I welcome all non-violent approaches to political discussion and debate. It inspires me and my own beliefs!

    My vote this year will be purely individual after some serious thought and discussion on the issues with people that I trust on both sides. I hope everyone takes the time to ponder what is most important to them and the one's they love when they cast their vote.

    Can't wait to chat again soon!

    -D.J.

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