Back in 2008 I was fired up for Obama. I had foam fingers and t-shirts and several stickers on my car. Facebook wasn’t a hotbed of political discussion then, so I didn’t realize that people might hate him. I thought McCain voters just liked his politics better, I didn’t see a lot of Obama bashing except as it related to his policy. It wasn’t ugly, I guess. So I didn’t mind pledging my support via clothing and vehicle decoration and yard signs. It was actually my litmus test for the world. Maybe if someone saw my stickers and yard signs and were planning on voting the same way, we’d somehow become friends! (This was 2008, I didn’t get social until 2011, I was confused about how to make friends.)
But in 2012 Facebook started being a place for political views and I learned how much people hated President Obama. HATED. And I really started focusing on sharing out articles that were Pro-Obama instead of Anti-Romney because I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of my friends and family who were voting for Romney. I also started worrying more that my dedication to Obama would upset people, so while I still openly supported him…I skipped the stickers and yard signs.
The last few weeks I’ve been really thinking about this (hence yesterday’s venting post) and how it all translates to this election. Guys? People hate Clinton WAY MORE than they hated Obama. And they hated Obama a LOT. Hell, they still do. If I had a dollar for every FB status or comment I saw that said something about how terrible the last 8 years have been, I’d be a millionaire. And so even though I’m still openly Pro-Choice, Pro-TANF, Pro-Single-Payer-Healthcare, Pro-Transgender Rights, Pro-Environment…I wasn’t sharing out a lot of Pro Hillary stuff because so many people hate her and what if they don’t want to be friends with me anymore? I mean – I write on this blog CONSTANTLY about the importance of diversity in your life. I’ve written 100 times about how important it is to be friends with people with different political leanings so you maintain your humanity, if I blatantly pissed them off from day 01 with my supportive Hillary posts, then I’d be unable to do that.
So I ignored the subtle irony (that I was offering respect in one direction to people not sending it back) and just held to my periodic benign pro-Hillary post and never posted anything too terrible about Trump. I wanted to save all of those relationships with people BASHING her at ever turn and LOVING him.
And yesterday it started really hitting me.
Wait. What am I doing?
I’m keeping my support a little mild and unoffensive so that I don’t upset the people who are BASHING my candidate every single day an professing their support for a candidate I dislike more than I’ve ever disliked a candidate before? I’m staying quiet so those people don’t get their feelings hurt? When they’re just totally throwing my feelings under the bus because they feel these things SO STRONGLY? Why do I care more about them than they care about me?
Now – am I going to start posting Anti-Trump stuff? No. But I’m no longer muffling my support of Hillary to preserve the relationship with people who have no desire to consider my feelings. I was worried a pro-Hillary sticker might upset people and they would discount me as a potential friend, when my heart is open to everyone! I can learn from everyone! I don’t want people to rule me out!
Oh, poor poor Zoot.
It hit me last night: “Wait. What good are people like that truly going to add to my life?” I thought about all of the blessings my conservative friends and family have spread into my life and the ones that have done just that – showered me with support? They would never just openly trash a political candidate. They might post things supporting their candidate, but they’ll do it respectfully. They use the same rules I use.
I keep grouping all of my conservative contacts into one big group but in reality? They’re not. There are respectful ones, and mean ones. There are the ones who look at the Obama presidency as 8 years of “not their guy” but they can also see the good that he’s done. Just like I was strongly in support of President Bush’s Housing First approach to homelessness. Maybe they’re strongly in support of the expansive freedoms giving to the LGBTQ community under his leadership. They don’t think the last 8 years were 100% awful, but they do want a chance to take back the white house. They also understand that a lot of the Obama efforts people like me supported were thwarted by a Republican led House/Senate at points in the 8 years. I always get frustrated when people 100% hate everything Obama’s done because I’m disappointed he didn’t do more! So shouldn’t people who vote differently than me be happy?
Anyway – I guess my conservative friends and family are actually divided into two groups. Mean and Not-Mean. I still won’t trash Trump on Facebook where all of my conservative friends and family will see it, because I believe in being Kind. But I’m not going to hide my support of Hillary to protect the connections with people who don’t have the same attitude towards me. If you 100% bash a President who helped get my oldest child the freedoms he deserves without even considering my feelings, then why am I so worried that my Hillary sticker will upset you? If you openly post that my candidate is horrible and this country is going down the crapper under her and Obama and you never even think about people like me reading your words? Then why am I so stressed that my Pro-Hillary article share will make you dislike me? If you declare all Hillary supporters have been brainwashed by liberal media then why am I worried you’ll be angry to see me in a Hillary shirt? If you openly bash everyone who uses government support like food stamps and welfare without considering people like me who benefitted from those programs? Then why do I worry about your feelings when I express support for my political candidate without bashing yours?
And last night I decided I don’t care. I’m playing nice still, that’s who I am. But I’m not going to muffle my support for my candidate for the sake of the feelings of people who so openly trash her and people like me. My t-shirt and button and sticker were shipped yesterday, and I’m going to wear them with pride. I’m not going to post bashing Trump articles or proclaim an end to all friendships with his supporters, that’s not me. But I’m not going to tender-step around the feelings of people who 100% ignore mine. I can’t feel guilty for posting well-written articles showing support for Hillary when the people whose feelings I worry about have no problem sharing out repeatedly disproven conspiracy theories relating to Clinton and her husband.
I’m letting go of the guilt. I’m still playing nice, but I’m not going to be so concerned about the feelings of people who don’t care about mine that I stifle my positive support of my political candidate. If someone won’t allow me into their lives because of my Clinton sticker – even when I would have allowed them into mine even with their Trump sign – then we don’t need to be in each other’s lives to begin with.
And to all of my conservative friends and family who play the game like I do – trying to keep things positive while recognizing the system is complex and no one person is perfect nor to blame for all of the bad – thank you. Let’s rise above the ugliness.