Why I get Political on Facebook.
Lately I’ve taken a lot of flak from people about my political posts on Facebook, but after watching President Obama’s farewell speech tonight, I’m inspired to say something.
We live in a time where it seems no one wants to discuss politics in a forum where it can be associated with who they are or with someone who disagrees with them. Why? Because it’s uncomfortable and it’s challenges us.
I believe this is causing the hate-based politics, political division, and lack of empathy in this country. By not having political discourse in situations where you can be held accountable, you’re more likely to say things that are not true to who you want to be as a person or even things you know to be unsupported by facts. In addition, by not speaking to those with differing opinions in a context where they’re humanized, such as in person or a friend you have on Facebook, it makes it very easy to create an US vs THEM scenario.
For me, as a young American, I’m attempting to be conscious that I have it pretty good. I’ve only known democracy in my life. I have unalienable rights. And bluntly, I’ve never experienced a world war. Tonight, President Obama reminded us that the reason we have those things is that we style of government that is actually harder and more work. It requires a responsibility from all of us, to stay educated, to use reason, to have uncomfortable political discourse as our founding fathers did, and most of all, to not forget the values this country’s democracy stands form, even if short term gains are incredibly appealing.
In this last presidential election, we had two candidates who to varying degrees, comprised those values. Now it’s no secret I’m not a fan of the man who won, but not because I think all of his policies are awful — for example, he’s right, the American middle class is being destroyed, only it’s by automation, not globalism — but because he takes our democracy for granted. If someone speaks up who disagrees with him, he attacks them, he says they’re overrated, he bullies them. Why not just say “I respectfully disagree” and give his logical reasons why? He is a man who ignores basic decency in his discourse and does not respect his foes or the power of his own words in our nations highest office. In short, he does not have the patience to work in our harder form of government.
I think it’s important to differentiate what I’m saying here. My opinion isn’t about policies or partisan topics. Going back to my middle class example, the president elects focus on manufacturing will bring back jobs. He will do other things that will benefit the country as well. But even if the ends justify the means, it has to be said he’s setting a dangerous precedent. Ask yourself, if we let one president act this way, then what comes after him?
I’ll end with this, if those last 2 paragraphs upset you, I want to understand why. If you think I’m wrong, I’ve been wrong countless times before. If you think I’m right, then great, we probably disagree on something else. If it makes you uncomfortable to talk to me about it, then awesome, I sure as hell will be too. But being uncomfortable is what makes us grow as people and having these conversations is what keeps democracy alive. The fact is we all have our own ideas, we all disagree and agree on different things, and as long as we aim to respect each other as Americans and work to find common ground, we all will make this great country, where we’re so lucky to have a right to do that, even greater.