Not Just a “Difference of Opinion” or “Politics”

Holly Jahangiri
Jan 6, 2020 · 9 min read

When you vote, do not listen to the naysayers. Do not seek the protection of the herd. Vote not just for the candidate you think has the best odds — you’re not playing the ponies, here. Vote for the candidate whose real track record and values best reflect yours.

You can outright lie to the opinion pollsters. So can everyone else. Do your homework; research the candidates. Choose wisely.

Whatever you do, ignore the propaganda. Ignore the easy memes that merely confirm your own feelings and opinions. Look up candidates’ qualifications, voting records, real accomplishments. Judge for yourself, based on solid info. Then vote. Vote your values.

Vote like your future and our kids’ futures depend on it. Your vote matters. If I run an opinion poll and tell you 90% disagree with you, are you less likely to bother voting? That is just propaganda. Ignore it. Your vote won’t count, can’t count, for sure, if you don’t cast it. Vote.

College students: Learn the residency, registration requirements and deadlines, or absentee ballot procedures, of the state and county where you will attend college in the fall — do the research now. Help your friends and fellow students figure it out. Get everyone registered and able to vote. Give an elder a ride to the polling place, come November. Talk to them about what matters most to you, then listen thoughtfully to their concerns, and learn what matters most to them. Don’t berate each other for your choices; consider each others’ needs and wants, then vote.

Commit to Vote Informed

For me, the issue is not about one Party or another, nor is it about tolerating mere “differences of opinion.” I’ve never voted straight ticket in my life, and the world is big enough to allow you to like green while I prefer purple. Choosing a representative government is about core values; it’s about which candidates have a proven track record of acting and voting in accordance with our most important core values, prioritized. None are perfectly aligned with mine, but some are completely misaligned and some are clearly “ all hat, no cattle “ and will say whatever nonsense gets them votes.

I’m always surprised at how few professed members of either the DNC or GOP have ever really read their Party’s platforms, much less the other Party’s platform. These are fairly short documents, readily available on each Party’s official websites, that lay out what each of them — officially — stands for, and I recommend reading both the national and your own state’s versions before voting.

During a rather baffling online discussion, I provided the following links, which mostly date back to 2016 and were, I thought, credible and pretty well publicized at the time, but that seem like surprising news to many people, even today:

We’re not uninformed; we’re just choosing to be misinformed and disinformed by other voices when it’s convenient and seems to fit with our world view. Of course we know this is true of other people, but meanwhile, we refuse to look ourselves in the mirror under such harsh light. We have to stop excusing our own “side” by saying, “Sure, but look at what the other side did…” Saints rarely run for political office, and some wrong-doings do matter more, when it comes to governing a country, than others.

It’s intellectually lazy, to some degree, but to be fair, there are people who are very good at propaganda, very determined to divide and demoralize, or to divide and conquer. Whether their end goal is to conquer the nation or to simply divide the people in it for their own amusement is up for debate, but we should all be wary of falling into that trap.

What Does It Mean to Be “Deplorable”?

Clinton made the original remark at a fundraiser Friday evening, saying: ‘To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.’

By Saturday, she expressed regret that she’d said as many as “half” of Trump’s backers fell into that category, but she didn’t completely back away from the broader sentiment. (Source: USA Today)

People don’t like to be called “deplorables.” I get that. It’s hard enough to swallow, being called out for deplorable behavior, but quite another to be made to own it and wear it like a scarlet letter. To make “deplorable” a noun feels defining. It chafes like rough wool.

I’m pretty sure that many of us, even if we supported Trump, would have immediately shrugged and said, “I’m in the other half, I get what she’s saying, yet, here’s why I’m voting for him…” But the thing is, I askedrepeatedly — in 2016, “Why are you voting for Trump?” The only answer I ever got was, “He’s not Hillary.” Or, “He’s not a libtard.” Or, “Democrats suck.” I heard a lot of, “He tells it like it is,” especially right after he bragged about how he felt entitled to grab women by the pussy. I guarantee you, if Barack Obama had said that, or if Hillary Clinton had bragged that she could walk down 5th Avenue, shoot someone dead, and still get elected, they’d have been un-electable, then and there.

“If you don’t like it, go back where you came from!” Much as I’d love to go hang out on Daytona Beach, that’s not going to solve anything. To suggest that anyone who feels our current administration is unqualified or corrupt and unfit to govern is “unpatriotic” is ridiculous. It’s not unpatriotic to question and criticize our government, especially when we do so with evidence and not mere snark and vitriol; in fact, it’s a right enshrined in our Constitution. It’s one of the main reasons we do pledge allegiance to the flag — not to a piece of cloth on a pole, but to the ideals that formed a nation.

Today it is more important than ever to protect our freedom of speech. Too many people have come to believe that discussion and debate are inadequate; they seek a society that squelches dissent with force. In law, government regulations are censoring speech that is “ disparaging,” “ immoral,” and “ offensive.”

In culture, people attack the speaker rather than engaging their ideas. Opponents vilify speakers as “misogynists,” or “racists,” and then attempt to drive them from the public square, or deprive them of their livelihood. In worst-case scenarios, disagreeable speech is met with violence. These attacks on the tradition of free speech are damaging to a free society and suppress uninhibited, robust, and wide open debate.

(Source: Remembering why free speech is important, by Wencong Fa)

So let’s look at the definition of that word, “ deplorable.”

First, I’d argue that it didn’t “squelch” free speech at all, nor was it meant to — it was deploring specific, enumerated sorts of attitudes and behaviors. While no one should fear jail time or the wrath of the Internet horde, they should not imagine they’re immune from having their ideas judged and found lacking.

Second, I think that the word applies. The very same people who make crude jokes or bandy about ethnic slurs aimed at minorities, who have no trouble slinging around profanity, calling women “bitch” or “c__t,” or who casually threaten others with bodily harm — these people suddenly get offended at being called “deplorable”? They unironically lash out at liberal “snowflakes”? Joke about drinking “liberal tears” in their morning coffee? Don’t make me laugh. They are deplorable. They have “undesirable” and “negative” qualities, deserving of rebuke and censure. That is, by definition, deplorable. The only questionable part of what Clinton said was “half.” She later expressed regret for making it sound like so many, but hindsight suggests her estimation of 50% was low.

It’s also possible that even these “deplorables” have some good qualities. Maybe they make some tasty scones, or drive their kids’ carpool and never run a red light. Maybe they mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn when needed, let their aging mother-in-law live with them, or host a blood drive for a coworker in need of a rare blood type. Does that mean they can’t be criticized?

Criticism shouldn’t mean wiping out all the good things a person is or does. That’s why using “deplorables” as a noun is so hurtful, so wrong, but so tempting because some of the particular things we find deplorable seem to so readily overshadow all the good things — some of which we may never learn about some people, because we want nothing to do with them now. It’s also convenient shorthand when the alternative is a laundry list of things of specific traits and behaviors like, “Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic…”

If you can accept general criticism of men or police officers or white people, recognizing that those dishing it are well aware of the many exceptions — the fact that #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter and #NotAllMen are mansplainers and sexual harassers — if you can understand that when black people say, “Black Lives Matter” or when LGBTQ folk say things like, “Trans Lives Matter” there’s an unspoken “too” at the end, because that “too” is the part too many people don’t seem to understand and respect, then you can accept that many Trump supporters are, in fact, deplorable, and that if you are truly an exception you can count yourself in the other half. Look in the mirror now and then to be sure you’re not being “triggered” by the truth.

Just realize that who you vote for and how they manifest what you stand for is a choice. Your skin color, birthplace, culture, sexual orientation, disabilities — those are not choices. But you are responsible for your choices and the beliefs and values on which you base them.

What’s “deplorable” is when people reveal their deplorable thoughts, their deplorable attitudes towards their fellow humans, then elect officials who will translate those thoughts and attitudes into action, without first listening and seeking to understand why others consider the thoughts and attitudes so deeply, morally wrong.

What’s “deplorable” is when people put their basest fears on display and prove their quick willingness to ignore the standards by which they judge others — when they readily act exactly like the people and behaviors they claim to despise. Such stunning hypocrisy!

A friend of mine once said that “politics is religion, manifest.” What’s “deplorable” is watching people you once looked up to and respected twist themselves into pretzels trying to rationalize and justify putting their own professed religious doctrines, their own self-touted morals, the ethical standards and behaviors, laws, and supposed principles of functioning civilization aside to lash out, to bully, and to hurt people who’ve done nothing at all to them, in support of demonstrably poor leaders who act only in furtherance of their own profit. It’s very hard to see that in family and friends.

Sometimes, anger is really just grief and sorrow, manifest.

Originally published at https://jahangiri.us on January 6, 2020. Updated on March 7, 2020.

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Holly Jahangiri

Written by

Writer and Kid-at-Heart, often found at https://jahangiri.us. Subscribe to my (free!) Newsletter: https://hollyjahangiri.substack.com

Tales from the No-Niche Niche

A mix of Stories that don’t always fit neatly into their niche.

Holly Jahangiri

Written by

Writer and Kid-at-Heart, often found at https://jahangiri.us. Subscribe to my (free!) Newsletter: https://hollyjahangiri.substack.com

Tales from the No-Niche Niche

A mix of Stories that don’t always fit neatly into their niche.

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