I have a Democratic friend who, to this day, is still violently pissed off over the 2000 election. He emailed me a message that had been forwarded to him by a mutual acquaintance by some anti-gay zealot and asked my opinion.
Now, anyone who's a longtime reader of Macroscope knows, I have very strong feelings in favor of gay rights: In my opinion, the way we as heterosexuals brought up in Christian traditions treat homosexuals, personally & politically, is the very definition of putting your faith in action. And I don't think God will look kindly on those who use anachronistic scriptures to justify their bigotry, while ignoring those very same scriptures on things like personal hygiene.
In other words, I have no patience for gay bashers of any stripe, and it really offends me when other people of faith defend or exalt them.
So, when I responded to my friend, I pretty quickly dissected the zealot's argument and dismissed it. At which point my friend responded by forwarding the response of our mutual acquaintance to MY response (Yeah, I know - read it again if it's confusing), where he basically called me a bunch of names.
I was pretty pissed off, and responded in kind. And my friend had the nerve to respond, in so many words, "why are you so angry?"
In other words, he'd asked my opinion out of the blue. I gave it. He then forwarded me, unsolicited, an insult in response to my opinion, and then was perplexed that I might be a tad miffed.
That whole exchange just showed me that there are some people who actually really love to fight. I have an ex who once told me that the way her family showed that they loved each other was that they'd scream and yell and argue with each other until everybody started crying. And then they'd hug and make up.
It's like "Fight Club" - some people need to be punched in the face to feel alive, so they'll go around punching other people in the face just to earn a new knuckle sandwich.
I don't enjoy fighting. I never have. It simply doesn't feel good.
That's why I had to stop seeing that girl (which was, shall we say, messy).
That's why I stopped arguing politics with my brother, the Republican.
And that's why I stopped responding to the e-mails that this particular friend sends me that are political in nature.
It just doesn't feel good.
And, ultimately, fighting just for fighting's sake is a waste of time. I'm much more interested in having a discussion where both sides are open to being swayed. If you can change my mind and I can change your mind, well, that's a conversation worth having.
Conversation, mind you. Not argument. Not even discussion. Conversation. Dialogue.
But I can see the Fight Seekers coming a mile a way, now. On both sides of the aisle, someone will post something provocative about one or the other candidate, just to get a rise out of their supporters, and then it will just be ON!
And far too many of us non-combatants fall into this vicious cycle - we think this is the only way to participate and respond: with verbal fists.
Is anyone, then, still surprised at how poisoned our political process is today?
So, here's my challenge to you all:
Tell me why YOU are voting FOR your candidate. And not just "because we need change" or "I believe in strong defense", because, frankly, those aren't answers. Tell me what you think is the most important, concrete, actual THING you expect either Barack Obama or John McCain to do once either one gets into office, and why.
And be forewarned, McCainites - if your response is "He'll win the war in Iraq", I expect you to say both how you define winning, and how you expect him to achieve it. No more of this Nixonian "I have a secret plan to end the war" bullshit.
(And, let's be honest, if MCain really does have a plan, why hasn't he shared it with the President? I'm sure he'd appreciate the help)
Personally, the single most important thing I expect Obama to do as president is begin planning & implementing some sort of phased withdrawal of our combat troops from Iraq. Why?
- It will stop the unnecessary drain of literally billions of dollars from our treasury during a time of fiscal & economic chaos.
- It will free our military to deal with the REAL terrorist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- It will stop the series of accidental Iraqi civilian deaths at the hands of American soldiers, which just generates more potential terrorists.
- It will show the world that America, in the end, does finally learn from its mistakes.