Thursday, October 16, 2008

Political Paraphenalia

Do you wear buttons to support your favorite candidate? Put bumper stickers or magnets on your car? Put yard signs by the road in front of your house?

It's really interesting to me to see who puts out signs or labels their cars in my hometown. A lot of people here just don't do that, no matter what their political leanings. My parents, for example: I can't imagine them ever making their political choices public in that fashion, although they will discuss their thoughts on politics with me. They're not the types, however, to introduce politics into a discussion with friends or bring up an election at a social gathering.

I was raised by these people, and yet in college I plastered my old used Volvo with politically-inspired stickers. I think part of it was a recognition that my views differed strongly from those of most of my fellow students. I attended a rather conservative school, where I was part of the liberal minority. This experience was not unlike living in my hometown, which is located in the heart of red-state territory in the south. I don't start arguments or confront people, however, when I find that my views differ from theirs. I think it's part of my "genteel" upbringing: talking about politics too much has always seemed a little rude to me, at least when it leads to an ideological clash.

In grad school, I was in the middle of a liberal haven, and on a certain level, I loved being in a place where many of the local officials shared my views and predelictions. It always felt a little odd, however. I wasn't used to being a part of the political majority, and I sometimes even felt oddly conservative in comparison to others, if that makes any sense. Perhaps it was my openness to accepting others' viewpoints, and living harmoniously with others who disagree with me? While I often agreed with the views of those around me, I sometimes found in some of them a bias toward others who disagreed with them. To be fair, I often found this same bias in my conservative friends and classmates in college. Perhaps the best way to describe it is an incredulity, an inability to believe that anyone who disagreed with their position could be intelligent, thoughtful, worthy of respect and acceptance. I suppose some people might see that as a flaw in me, my desire to be tolerant of other views to the point that I rarely fight for my position and challenge others with any sense of vehemence.

Anyway, this leads me back to my topic. I don't have any signs or stickers or magnets. I've been very tempted to put up a sign, to put a magnet on my van, but I haven't, because Hubs asked me not to do it. And he agreed not to label his car or put up any of his signs - which would not feature the same candidate's name - in return. Oh, I have been so tempted, particularly since signs for my candidate are rare in this town. On my parents' street, I've seen five signs for the "old white dude" and only one for Obama. And I was surprised to see that one. I asked the woman who lives there why she decided to put the sign in her yard, and she said she, like me, wasn't one to put out political signs in most cases. But she had seen so many McCain signs around town, and so few Obama signs, that she felt like potential Obama voters might feel like there was no need to vote, as if they were so outnumbered that it didn't matter. So she put out a sign to let them know they weren't alone, to keep the faith in our very red town.

And that's when I really wanted to put out a sign, too. But I didn't. No need to start that fight with Hubs. I've been trying to avoid politics entirely in our discussions, because he keeps trying to show me the error of my ways. You would think that he would know better after eight years of marriage, but apparently not. No, I won't put out a sign or put a magnet on my car to counter all of the stickers I see on cars around town, but I'll put my choice out here, on my blog, in my own indirect way. Hubs never reads what I write here anyway.


Melissa said...

God, I feel like I must've had the opposite upbringing from you in this respect. I know it's influenced me to be a bit more open about my politics, but, in person, I generally only talk about politics with like-minded people. I'm not interested in getting into political arguments with people I know.

But also, because I've seen how ridiculously biased and illogical they are, I've vowed to not become a liberal version of them. I very much try to be even-handed and unbiased, even though my personal philosophies and experiences pretty much classify me as liberal.

Avitable said...

I don't put a sticker on my car because I think they're tacky. And our HOA won't allow political signs in yards. If they did, I'd proudly put an Obama sign in the yard. My wife would, too.

When is your husband going to learn that you're right? The rest of us figured that you're smart and know what you're doing long, long ago! :D