The R-Word: When Politics and Social Media Collide

On November 6, 2012, most of the USA was either standing in line to vote, voting, or Facebooking / tweeting / Instagramming about the race between incumbent and Democrat, President Barack Obama, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. This was a landmark election not so much in its outcome (incumbents usually go on to a second term—only 10 in our history have lost a second-term election race)—but in the fact that social media played  an integral part of the candidates’ campaigns and our engagement as a nation.

Twitter—and social media in general—have come a long way since the last presidential election four years ago. Twitter, with its very public face, was still a largely misunderstood new paradigm for communication, trailing behind personal and private Facebook in total users. Since 2008, a hell of a lot has happened: Twitter exploded; hashtags infiltrated traditional media; your mom and grandmother joined Facebook; iPads were born; and iPhones, smartphones, and Instagram seized the nation. As a result, the way we consume news and communicate with each other changed forever.

Politics and Social Media: An Irritating Combination

As bloggers and Americans, we’ve found ourselves at a crossroads in the last few weeks, at that awkward and uncomfortable place where our private beliefs and public personas meet, and not necessarily successfully. Political jokes and innuendo are no longer confined to email for distribution to a “safe” list of addresses maintained by like-minded people. With Facebook now the preferred medium for personal photo sharing and interaction, it was inevitable that status updates would eventually become clogged with political imagery and ballyhoo, now being delivered to an audience of friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances—who may or may not subscribe to your beliefs, or appreciate you vocalizing them.

Image via Reg Blog.

I should know. I am not one to post or email political jokes; I’ve always found those irritating “FW: …” subject lines/emails passé and insipid. So I’ve taken particular offense to updates in my Twitter and Facebook feeds that are nothing more than insults aimed at the candidate not liked by the person making the update. It’s one thing to show support, tweet a #TeamObama or #RomneyRyan2012; it’s quite another to beat the “binder full of women” soundbite to death. I become “47%” more likely to remove people like that from my list of favorites every time I read a snide new comment from them. I don’t unfollow, but I will disengage. I don’t mind a differing opinion, but I do mind irrelevant, personal, and juvenile attacks—don’t hate, appreciate.

Despite my mounting level of frustration, I’d never attack someone verbally or bully them because their beliefs don’t match mine, and that includes attacking candidates publicly—POLITICIANS ARE PEOPLE TOO, remember? You can debate and disagree, but bagging a candidate’s wife or implying as a designer that you absolutely did not dress her (like she’s some horrific, child-molester-ax-murderer)—that’s just ridiculous. No matter what you think about a candidate’s views and policies, it takes guts and dedication to throw a hat in the ring; I have tremendous respect for anyone who has the fortitude to run for political office.

Like all of you, I have my thoughts, but attacking a buffoon because they can’t shut up would make me no better than the buffoon who attacks me. So I’ve sat through weeks of offensive commentary and tried to pretend I still liked some of the more politically vocal people  I know after witnessing the inner workings of their minds. Judging from what I’ve read on Twitter and Facebook, I am not the only one who found social media irritating and anxiety-inducing in the weeks leading up to the election, and in the days after. But anyway.

Coming Out of the Closet

Then Election Day happened. Feeling passionate about the race and how close it was, I decided that if everyone could broadcast their support, well then, so could I. I am who I am, and I would no sooner deny my political beliefs than I’d deny my religious ones.

On election day, I sent this tweet:

As you can see, it’s a simple statement of support, not an attack on any other party or candidate. I admitted publicly that I not only voted for the Republican candidate, when pressed on Twitter, I also divulged that I am a registered Republican, and have been since Clinton’s second term.

2012 presidential election ballot

Image via Clippix Etc.

Truth be told, I knew that as soon as I mentioned the R-word, there would be consequences. Somehow over the years, being a Republican has become “uncool.” I believe that social media—and Hollywood celebs, bands, and singers (who are overwhelmingly Democrat and have the audience and opportunity to share political beliefs)—are probably largely responsible for this shift in view. Since Republicans are often conservative in more than just their beliefs, they tend to take a quieter—and often completely silent—approach. That said, there is a healthy way to engage in political discourse, for example this exchange, in which I was asked why I supported Romney:

Gay Rights and School Bonds

So back to Election Day. I voted, I tweeted that I voted Romney/Ryan, and made no comments whatsoever about Obama. Later that day, some girl on Twitter I do not know mentioned me in a tweet to someone else, pointing out that I voted Romney, and she “couldn’t follow that,” or something like that. She then proceeded to lambaste me for voting Republican, saying I wasn’t voting for gay rights, how I couldn’t have gay friends and do right by them by voting Republican. She was extremely condescending and inflammatory, and I basically told her I didn’t have to justify myself to her or anyone, then blocked her because she was so nasty to me. Here are some tweets from others who witnessed the exchange:

I’m sure if I had attacked that girl who felt the need to give me a dressing down, she’d have gone straight for the jugular. But I never would. It’s stupid and narrow-minded to belittle others just because they have a different point of view. Regardless, after I admitted where I stood, over the course of the night I watched my Twitter followers decrease by around 30. Some tweets on the unfollow phenomenon:

This is what gets me: while I do have gay friends I would absolutely go to bat for, why is she holding me responsible for ensuring their rights? That’s like moms across my state holding me responsible for a working mother or public school initiative. Or me holding her responsible for ensuring my right to own a gun. I am not gay. I am not a mom. I do not have children. So I’m not especially concerned about issues related to them. Doesn’t mean I don’t care. But let’s be real here: we vote for the candidates, bonds, and referendums that mean something to us. Very personally and very specifically. What matters to me, and why I voted Republican is I believe very strongly in the right to bear arms. Outlawing guns just keeps honest citizens from being able to legally defend themselves—it doesn’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals.  I believe in drug testing welfare recipients and welfare reform. In ensuring that more of my money goes in my pocket, and less into taxes that support programs I don’t believe in and that do not benefit my family. And in reducing our national debt, not our military spending.

The Other R-Word

I vote the way I want to vote because I can, because this great country affords me that freedom and privilege, and our military helps ensure it. I’m not voting “against” my wonderful gay friends with my choice any more than they are voting “against” me with theirs. That’s why we vote. So everyone has the chance to make their own decisions about what really matters to them.  In the United States, we experience freedom that is unparalleled. Freedom to engage in debate, to live where we want, vote as we’d like, or complain and protest for legislative change. The whole point of this post was said better by non-Republican blog friend, Kevin, than me:


So here’s another R-word: RESPECT. Respect that others are entitled to their own beliefs. Live and let live. Whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, we are all Americans.

Comments

  1. says

    This is so well stated, as always. I agree with this completely. I actually wrote a post for this Thursday about the election and politics too. The thing is, my family is all Republican, whereas I am a Democrat. They believe in certain issues because of how it affects their life. My stress is on other issues because they will affect my way of life. I can’t be mad at them, or anyone really, who has opposing views on issues that affect their day-to-day or their paycheck. That’s what I wish people would understand. What’s good for the goose, is not always good for the gander.

    • says

      Thank you, Lindsay. I can’t wait to read your post as well! Like within your family, you may not see eye-to-eye on politics and other matters, but your still love each other. Hell, I think my dad voted Democratic this year…he’s a total swing voter. But that’s OK, you know? We all have the right to vote as we please. All that really matters is that we pay attention, and vote!

  2. says

    Well said! I completely agree with you. I don’t understand why people feel the need to personally attack someone just because they have a different opinion.

  3. says

    So glad I can across this post, I have mainly democratic friends and I also believe that it is a “band-wagon” type thing that they have hopped on due to celebrities & socials making it seem “cool”. But honestly I wouln’t bash them or say that to their faces. EVERYONE has a right to vote, EVERYONE has a right to vote for who they want. People should never be treated poorly for that! The number one thing that comes to my mind during election season is bullying….we hate seeing kids be bullied, yet adults are ripping each other to shreds about elections! Ugh. Just frustrates me and I hate to see someone get twitter-harassed for it! NOT COOL people! Not cool.
    xoKatie

    ps- very proud of you for coming out on your twitter about who you voted for!
    Katie’s latest post: Green + LeopardMy Profile

  4. Serene says

    Vahni, Thanks for this! For months I’ve watched my twitter and IG (I don’t do Facebook) feeds light up about Reelecting President Obama. I laid low because I really didn’t want to stir up anything. Really wasn’t interested in opening up a political dialogue. I know I’m nt going to change anyone’s mind, and I didn’t want to offend anyone. It wa YOUR IG about voting and your #romneyryan that encouraged me to “come out” on Election Day and make my vote public. If anyone unfollowed me, I didn’t notice….for my own morale, I don’t keep up with follower numbers.

    I was shocked seeing your tweets later about the ugliness you experienced…..shocked and alarmed. I’m conservative by nature. I believe a smaller government is better for everyone. As a Christian, I value freedom from government above any othe political ideal. I tell my kids, “he who feeds you, rules you” because I believe that and I don’t want to trade my freedom for my comfort. I also believe in the right to bear arms….again, that protects us FROM an overgrown governent. I believe we should care for those who can’t care for themselves but not for those who WON’T. i dont believe we can tax our way out of debt. I believe it’s not the government’s responsibilty to make life FAIR, but it is its responsibility to ensure equality. I believe in the rights of the unborn, though i dont believe Roe v Wade will ever be overturned. I believe welfare has grown way too much and it’s a startling irony to me that at a public job, we have to subjec ourselves to drug testing, but welfare recipients do not. I believe paying someone for 100 months not to work is hurting them and not helping them.

    I beI believe we ALL are constitutionally guaranteed the right to SPEAK our minds, our political views. That’s an important freedom and one that has made our country unique. And the moment we start trying to silence those who don’t agree with us, we begin living in fear…… Fear that maybe we don’t have all the answers.

    At the end of the day, my politics don’t define me, they simply define how I view government. And if someone thinks less of me for tha or wants to “un follow” me, then that’s a shame for them. Because in getting away from my political views they also miss my sense of humor, my philosophical leanings and my fabulous fashion sense! This has been cathartic! Thank you Vahni!!
    Serene’s latest post: I spent $20 on a shirt at Goodwill!!!!!My Profile

    • says

      Serene, what can I say? Thank you for this wonderful comment. We are on the same page, especially about this:

      “I believe welfare has grown way too much and it’s a startling irony to me that at a public job, we have to subject ourselves to drug testing, but welfare recipients do not. I believe paying someone for 100 months not to work is hurting them and not helping them.”

      Thank you for having the courage to share your thoughts!

  5. says

    As I told you on Twitter, I am still here. We have different opinions on candidates, but that doesn’t or won’t keep me from following you on Twitter. Clearly ole girl just had a beef to pick with you period. Great post.

  6. says

    Great post. I absolutely agree with you. I voted Republican for the sames reasons as you. And since I am a women people don’t understand. But basically I also saw it as one person cannot change all those rights about women that is why we have the 3 houses. So I voted R with faith that women’s right would not be affected.
    Lindsey’s latest post: Lindsey Lately – V3My Profile

  7. says

    I pretty much disagree with V on almost everything from a political standpoint. I’m not just left, I’m far left. I consider Obama, despite the fact I voted for him, to be center-right. I’m an uppercase Democrat and a lower case democratic socialist. I like centralised government, I like taxes, and I like social welfare programs. Obama is not a socialist, I should know, since I am… but nor is Romney some evil emperor out to destroy America by looting every member of socio-economic classes lower than his. He was even a decent governor. Both narratives are wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I am willing to work with any person as long as they are willing to be rational and reasonable. And I certainly believe everyone has the right to express their views and vote for the candidate of their choice free from harassment and inappropriate personal remarks. Some of the behavior directed at V by her liberal followers was completely off base and wildly inappropriate and does not, and should never, reflect the attitudes of the left.
    Kionon’s latest post: Takehara Bamboo Lantern Festival – Tamayura ~Hitotose~My Profile

    • says

      Ha…you always leave the most cerebral comments! Love it. Remind me NEVER to piss you off. I do think you could tell me where to stick it so eloquently that I’d have no choice but to thank you after.

      Like you, I take everyone on an individual basis, always. That’s mostly because people have never been able to fit me in a box to their liking; I’ve been on the periphery and left there deliberately so many times that it doesn’t even surprise me anymore. Because I know I’ve never “fit in,” I don’t try to box people in either. We all have something in common with EVERYONE. It’s that one thing that keeps us bound to each other, through disagreements and differences.

  8. says

    So very well said Vahni!! I am of the thought that people do not have to believe in the same thing and have the same viewpoints in order to be friends or follow each other on social media. I am sorry that you were attacked or ill-treated in anyway for stating who you were voting for, and I am sure the Twitter followers you lost, weren’t worth having anyway.
    Rocquelle’s latest post: AlteredMy Profile

  9. says

    this is a really interesting post. political talk can get heated, but it doesn’t bother me too much since the stakes are pretty high. a couple of points:

    ** living in texas, i can tell you that not all conservatives or republicans are quiet about their beliefs. growing up (and sometimes even now) plenty have been quick to tell me that i was/am an immoral person because i am a liberal. i think the medium has a lot to do with how vocal folks are about their political beliefs.

    ** as far as gay rights go, i think we all have to own our vote. when you’ve got two candidates with divergent views on a issue, you’re making a statement when you pick one over the other. perhaps that one issue (in this case lgbt rights) isn’t enough to sway your vote, but if it’s something you claim to care about, i don’t think it’s odd for others to ask you reconcile your voting behavior with your stated beliefs.

    ** lastly, i think it would behoove everyone to take a step back from politics every now and then and remember that we all want the best for this country even if we don’t agree on what path to take. i’ll admit, i almost unfollowed you on instagram (manly b/c i’m a heathen living in in the heart of the bible belt and my liberal, secular soul can only take so much) but i didn’t and i’m glad i didn’t and i’m glad i didn’t. even though i already knew this, i had to remind myself that people with different opinion aren’t necessarily bad and that it’s good to hear from folks across the political aisle every now and then.

    with all that said, i’m glad you wrote this post. it’s not a topic a lot of us would broach, but when it’s done well it can be really fruitful. kudos.

    • says

      Kenda, thank you for your comment…and tolerance. ;) As you said, it’s not an easy subject, but when we approach it with some calmness and maturity, it’s not so bad. We must be able to agree to disagree, as no two of us are identical.

  10. says

    Amazing post V, and I applaud you for publishing your thoughts on this topic.

    In all honesty, I tried to stay far away from social media during the height of the presidential campaign and during key events, like the debates and election night. Despite that, I found myself sucked into the twitterverse a few of times. This included election night AFTER Ohio was called. I couldn’t load twitter fast enough when that happened. I am not sure what I was expecting to find at that point, but I know that I was saddened by what I did see.

    I don’t hide the fact that I am a Democrat or the fact that I voted for Obama this election and last. At least, not usually. My friends are a nice mix where political affiliation is concerned, and we all love a good debate. We like learning what each others views are, and we like to challenge one another. Work is different. Being a fundraiser for a non-profit, 99% of the donors I deal with are staunch Republicans and they are extremely vocal about it. So vocal that most of my colleagues, who seem to lean Democrat or Independent, don’t feel comfortable broaching the subject. Which is OK. There is a time and place for politics, and work just isn’t it.

    Where social media is concerned, I am undecided. Did I get caught up in some of the binders of women and big bird talk? Yes. But in my defense, that is because the comments were ridiculous (in my opinion). When Obama bombed that first debate (and he most def. did) I made plenty of comments about him too… but those went unnoticed by my Republican friends. As Democrats, we were united in our dismay. But when the binder talk came up, I received quite a few comments from people who felt I was being disrespectful. Perhaps I was, but I also strongly felt that Romney was being incredibly rude to our President. That isn’t an excuse, I know, and I regret if I did offend anyone with any of my comments. If this election taught me anything, it was to keep any comments that could be deemed disrespectful to myself in the future.

    On election day I was fairly quiet, and logged in to encourage everyone to vote, no matter their party. Later that evening after Ohio was called, that was a whole other story. I was excited and I wanted to share that excitement with others. I wanted to feel a sense of unity and togetherness so I logged into twitter. There was plenty of happiness, but there was also so much anger and, as you said, disrespect.

    I saw it from all sides. Democrat. Republican. Independent. Tea Party. It didn’t matter… someone on twitter was being rude to someone else. I was not online when those horrible things were being said to you, so I did not know what you had been subjected to that day, but I did log in just in time to see the tail end of a conversation with you and a few others. A conversation where you all seemed so disheartened and disenfranchised. I understand it better now, but at the time ALL of it combined made me extremely sad.

    I came to twitter that night looking for unity… and all I felt I found was division and isolation. It was heartbreaking. And it just reaffirmed the notion that no matter WHO had won that night, as a nation we remain extremely divided.

    I am a firm believer that we all have the right to be heard. I am also a firm believer that we all deserve respect. I don’t care what someone’s political affiliation is. I don’t care what their religious affiliation is. I don’t care what their stance on individual issues is – everyone has a right to their own opinion. I may disagree with someone, but I will always respect them and their beliefs.

    Anyway, that was a long way of saying that I am sorry that you were treated so appallingly on twitter. Anyone who unfollowed you because you exercised your right to vote or was rude to you for sharing your reasons doesn’t deserve a second thought. In addition, I sincerely hope that none of MY tweets were offensive throughout this election. If they were, consider this my official apology.
    Beautifully Invisible’s latest post: Tough Love: Jennifer Fisher Jewelry Spring 2013 CollectionMy Profile

    • says

      B, thank you for your honest and thought-provoking comment. I agree that whether we agree with another’s beliefs or not, we’ve all got to respect the fact that they are entitled to them. Like you, the disrespect was what was most disheartening for me this past election. I may not love Obama, but I cannot fault the man for leading the country with class and integrity. I’m not going to tear him down just because he wasn’t my choice. There have been sitting presidents in our lifetime who absolutely disgraced themselves and the office in pursuit of their personal predilections. At least Obama runs a clean, tight ship.

      Unfortunately, it is the nature of man to stand divided whenever there is any play for power. Doesn’t matter if it’s politics, a land grab, religion, money, whatever. At least the big elections happen only every four years! That gives us all plenty of time to cool down.

  11. says

    Cate, I sincerely appreciate your comment and honesty. Glad that even though we may not agree on some political issues, we can still maintain a healthy social media relationship! I really do try to go at everything I do with good intentions. I do feel like when you take that approach, it doesn’t steer you wrong, and others DO notice, which is a bonus.

    At the end of the day, what we think about our elected leaders and their policies is just one little facet of who we are. As they say, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater—we are more than that as people. As you demonstrated in your succinct, diplomatic, and forthright comment, we CAN navigate our differences with aplomb. It’s mean-spirited, negative bullies that aren’t worthy of our attention and support, not those who simply vocalize their beliefs with reason and intelligence.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  12. says

    God damn I love you, V. You are my kind of people. While I’m neither D or R, I did vote Obama. But I’ve been frustrated with both sides of social media expression. I dislike the ideology of “you don’t see my eye to your eye so your stupid/racist/ridiculous” outbursts that have been firing both ways on my Facebook and Twitter. I don’t feel either parties say everything (let’s not discuss actual follow up) I believe in- politically- and I do feel that respectful and open discussion of people with differing opinion and outlooks are essential for a robust community. That’s where growth and innovation can come from. I texted a good friend of mine who is a devout Republican and not a fan of Obama a teasing text stating my condolences- and we both affirmed that we are glad that we can speak our minds- and differ while admiring and loving each other. All this ramble is to make the point that it’s a limiting function to only like/support people who echo your beliefs and soundbites.

    I saw your support for Rommey and I respect it. I think you’re right that Dems are more vocal on social media about their allegiances and the Reps are often bullied into being hush about their opinions. Which is a loss for all of us, as the exchange of ideas and perspectives is what makes conversations sparkle, and keeps the mind buzzing. While I’m not surprised people choose to unfollow others with differing views, I do think it’s at their loss.

    A monopoly of memes isn’t what makes our country great, it’s the diversity and ability to re-invent ourselves into bigger, badder, better.
    Bella Q’s latest post: The Good FootMy Profile

    • says

      THIS—> “A monopoly of memes isn’t what makes our country great, it’s the diversity and ability to re-invent ourselves into bigger, badder, better.”

      Amen, sista. And it’s people like you, who are totally comfortable with themselves and don’t need agreement or validation to feel complete, that make the world an exciting, loving place!

      xo

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, as always.

  13. says

    You said: “while I do have gay friends I would absolutely go to bat for, why is she holding me responsible for ensuring their rights? That’s like moms across my state holding me responsible for a working mother or public school initiative. Or me holding her responsible for ensuring my right to own a gun. I am not gay. I am not a mom. I do not have children. So I’m not especially concerned about issues related to them.”

    When it comes to civil rights, such as the right to equitable marriage recognition, or the right to own and carry firearms, or the right to a public education, those rights affect everyone, whether someone has kids, owns guns, or is in a homosexual relationship. We are all collectively responsible for one another. If we are all American, as you say, you can’t necessarily excuse yourself from caring about those issues, as they affect everyone. Gun laws affect me as someone living near many urban centers with higher levels of gun violence; education affects you as the quality of schools in your community affects the value of your home. All of these issues are intertwined. Personally speaking, I disagree mightily with your statement above, and we could probably drink three or more bottles of wine debating it.

    Objectively speaking, I think the twitter rage you received was partly due to the perceived disconnect between your stated beliefs regarding gay friends whom you love, for example, and your public support of Romney/Ryan. I think the reaction to any unexpected disconnection between professed beliefs and outward action is amplified on Twitter and Facebook, for example. I’m not sure why that is specifically, but my theory is that online, consistency is so much a part of establishing a brand and online voice and identity. Thus, any discrepancies in the perceived consistency of someone’s voice and in their actions is a great upset for those listening/following. Perhaps the amplified reaction and outraged upset can be attributed to that perceived discrepancy.

  14. says

    Such a great post for so many reasons. I had my own reasons for staying away from being inundated with political timelines on my social platforms. I find it far more respectable to say hey, let’s agree to disagree whether talking religion or politics. I love the conversation and hearing all sides of any party. For me, it’s simply the fact that one shows such passion to stand up for whatever you may believe in that gets my respect. When someone forms an opinion for anything, even whether or not to buy an the latest Apple or Samsung product … going along with the what’s the status quo without being educated about its contents or jumping on the band wagon so-to-speak for no rhyme or reason is what’s bothersome to me. We all express a difference in opinion and not only regarding politics and religion. I think that fact that you stood your ground in your belief in your party is worth an applaud in my book.

    I may not share the same views of my fellow bloggers, friends, or even my own family on some things, but I do respect anyone’s opinion that may not be the same as my own. I also agree with Rocquelle’s comment regarding that in order to be friends with people you don’t necessarily have to have the exact same (political) views. Just respect!
    FASHION TALES’s latest post: Night Owls: Leather and LaceMy Profile

  15. Cortney says

    One can vote for whomever they choose, but I think it’s naive to think that you can be excused the issue of gay rights when you admit to voting for Romney. He was very, very clear on his stance and that included supporting DOMA and how he was disappointed that gay people were having children because it wasn’t right. He is on camera talking to a man about how he doesn’t support gay marriage, and then it turns out that man is not only gay, but a Vietnam vet, and was there *with his partner*. This is not some side issue- it was a central tenet of his conservative platform.

    Overall, it is sad and confusing to me that you view gay rights as not having anything to do with you since you’re not gay- gay rights are human rights, full stop, in my opinion. I might not be gay but I have loved ones who are. Gay men and women are citizens of this country, pay taxes, and ought to have full rights. Gay men and women serve in the military that protects my right to vote in the first place. That is enough for me.

    I’m concerned that some people cannot understand why someone would take it personally. How much more personal can the right to marry be? It is incredible to me that someone who voted for Romney can actually be surprised when they are asked about the gay marriage/women’s rights issue. He made both central aspects of his campaign, and talked about both regularly. He took bold stances on each, that were very firm with little gray. One can be expected to be asked about them. I’m not surprised when one of the first things people ask me about Obama is abortion or taxes on the rich, two very contentious issues. To be surprised that a huge chunk of Americans’ whose rights hang in the balance might ask you about Romney’s stance on gay rights is a little disingenuous. You’re talking about how there needs to be respect on both sides, but don’t you see how someone who is gay, or has gay friends/family, can look at a Romney supporter as a bigot? I’m not calling you a bigot, I’m just saying, put yourself in their shoes: If you were, say a lesbian woman with a partner and a child, and you had read all of those Romney stances, and his quotes about how your relationship is not valid under the law, and it’s wrong that you ever made children to begin with, and then you found out someone voted for Romney, wouldn’t you kind of be a little offended? Or turned off? I agree that people could find a way to talk more respectfully about it, but this is not just a difference of opinion. This is human rights for a chunk of people in our country. For some people, respecting the choice for Romney is akin to respecting the choice for a politician who, in the 1950′s, may have supported segregation, or may have, in the 1900′s, been against a woman’s right to vote. I’m not asking that you agree with that view, I’m just asking that you see how personal and deeply important this is, and how maybe it’s not just that their immature for unfollowing you- that could be an act of deep conviction. The fact that your feeling annoyed because someone unfollowed you because you voted for someone who might be against who they are as a person seems unreasonable, on face.

  16. says

    I was having a discussion with my friend along these lines today-while I am a registered Democrat, and one of the most liberal people I know, that doesn’t mean I think Republicans are always wrong. I do, however, think that the image of the Republican party has been, for lack of a better way to say it-simplified, over recent years (I don’t want to offend anyone by bumbling around in my own words when the article that sums it up is here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/12/opinion/frum-conservatives-despair/index.html?hpt=hp_c2)

    I think political discourse is healthy and necessary. We need people who think differently than us, or our country would never grow. I don’t agree with much of your personal beliefs, but as long as a person has educated themselves on the issues and makes a wholly informed issue about what is best for them, I wholeheartedly support their right to do so (there are people, on the other hand-both democrat and republican, who choose to post hateful, mean or derogatory messages with complete disregard for facts, truth and staying informed. Those, I cannot support!).

    Good for you for standing up in your beliefs. The only person who really, truly matters at the end of the day is YOU. If your followers didn’t like that, you don’t want them following you-trust me. They’re not the kind of people you need in your life!

    All the best

    xx
    Rose
    Rose’s latest post: The 2 BanditsMy Profile

  17. says

    As usual, I appreciate your honesty and integrity. I do not share your political beliefs, but having differing political beliefs does not mean you have to personally attack others. Whenever I vote or think of the American election process, I think of the people that came before me that literally died for me to have the right to vote and I’d never want someone to be ostracized for their political beliefs. You are so right, it’s about respect regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum.
    ShenDove’s latest post: Purple revisitedMy Profile

  18. Cecile says

    I found your blog through Pretty Shiny Sparkly. I’m an “R-Word” too. I know in some circles that’s a dirty word. Good for you for not hiding who you are and for expressing yourself so eloquently!

  19. Lucy says

    Your fear of your 2nd amendment rights being revoked are based on what? Where and when was this ever proposed and by whom? And you have no fear that Roe v. Wade will never be overturned? Did you even read the GOP platform before you voted? Your eloquent post lacks deep understanding and provides a cursory view of the issues with zero substantiation.

    • says

      Lucy, this piece sums up my beliefs regarding gun laws:
      http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57491081/ben-stein-stricter-gun-laws-wont-cut-shootings/

      No one is revoking my rights, and I never said that was proposed by anyone. But outrageously strict and expensive gun laws ARE an issue, and that is where I’m coming from when I say I believe in the right to bear arms. The government shouldn’t make it impossible for law-abiding citizens to be able to arm themselves if they so choose.

      And no, I have no fear that Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned. It’s been upheld for 39 years, and even with Republican presidents in office. So while I appreciate your comment, I do take offense to your tone and the insinuation that there is “zero substantiation” in my views. My level of knowledge of party platforms and the issues at hand is probably very representative of most voters. We don’t have “deep understanding” because we are not politicians, and frankly, most of us don’t have the interest or time to eat, sleep, and breathe politics. But like most of the citizens in this country, I’ve read enough to know where I stand and make my decision accordingly.

      • Lucy says

        Sorry V, but you stated “Outlawing guns just keeps honest citizens from being able to legally defend themselves—it doesn’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals.” Nobody is proposing that. That’s pure hyperbole. You do know that under the Obama Administration gun right have expanded?
        http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505267_162-57477652/major-garrett-obama-has-expanded-not-reduced-gun-rights/
        “My level of knowledge of party platforms and the issues at hand is probably very representative of most voters.” That is the problem. Most know very little and what they do know they get from the horrible attack ads both parties rely upon to sway voters and read a partisan blog here or there. It does not take a politician to have deep understanding of a party platform, it takes an informed citizen very little time to read the platform.

        • says

          This is actually a response to your comment below: “…. You put out this blog post for what reason? You are trying to justify your choice for President. You stated your reasons and also pointed out that discourse on political differences is incivil.”

          With all due respect Lucy, I think it’s clear that you have misunderstood the point of this post. Vahni doesn’t need to justify her choice to anyone and I don’t believe that wasn’t her purpose here. The way I understood it, the purpose of the post was altogether different with the main focus being respecting the decisions of others whether we agree or not.

          Social media has changed the face of politics and the way our society interacts with one another during key moments like elections. Much of the discourse WAS extremely uncivil this year and I think that – many times – with social media it’s easy to forget exactly how many people are impacted by a quick post or tweet. I know I never meant to offend anyone with any of my comments, but reading this post also helped me see how it could have happened.

          Your comment implies that Vahni’s main purpose here was to justify her vote and anything else was secondary. I will argue that the main purpose was to educate by sharing her own experience and frustrations. She didn’t have to share her stance on the issues and she certainly didn’t have to share who she voted for. Vahni will correct me if I am wrong, but I would wager that the reason she DID share some of her personal ideology upfront was because she knew it would come up anyway given how volatile of a subject this can be. Better to put it all out there right away then have to explain yourself a million times in the comments.

          Maybe I am wrong and I completely misunderstood what her intent was here. But justifying her personal beliefs? I don’t see it. That’s the thing about personal beliefs… The only person you need to justify them to is yourself. Vahni opened a discourse here by putting her beliefs out there so people can obviously comment on what she said, but she doesn’t have to justify herself to anyone.

          • says

            Thank you B, you DID get the point of my post, and you DID communicate, very eloquently, why I did share my stance. Thank you for contributing to the conversation thoughtfully, and diplomatically. As you always do.

      • Cortney says

        I agree with the links posted. Gun rights have been expanded under Obama- you can now carry in National Parks and on Amtrak. At least two very high profile gun tragedies happened during his first term- the attacks on Gabrielle Giffords, and the shootings at the Batman opening- and not once in any of his replies did he say “so let’s take away guns.”

        I respect the fact that this is an important issue to you, my concern is that if it’s such an important issue I don’t know why you didn’t know that gun rights have been expanded under the current administration. And, if you *did* know that, I’d be curious to know why you think it wasn’t enough, or what basis you have for fearing that gun rights will be taken away, since the facts of the actions don’t seem to support that fear.

        This isn’t about me debating your Republican stance, just to be clear- this is about me questioning the logic you used to arrive at the conclusion that somehow one must vote for Romney if one cares about gun rights, when the sitting President actively expanded gun rights. That confuses me.

        • says

          Ladies, you’ve completely missed the point of this post, which is this: We have differing opinions, and I don’t have to justify my opinions any more than you have to justify yours. I’m not asking you to support my reasons for voting as I did, nor do I need to substantiate them, though I have. Your comments are exactly the type that inspired this post. I’m not implying anything about your level of intellect because your opinion differs from mine, and I’m not asking you to agree with me. The point, again, is that we should respect the right others have to form their own opinions, whether we agree with their logic or not.

          As you can see in other comments, agreeing to disagree is the point of this post, and what we sometimes must do in order to move past a subject. But since you insist on trying to convince me that I am wrong and you are both right, I’ll leave you with this: you can comment until you’re blue in the face…it’s a moot endeavor and it’s never going to change my mind.

          • Lucy says

            No V, I am not trying to prove you wrong and me right. You put out this blog post for what reason? You are trying to justify your choice for President. You stated your reasons and also pointed out that discourse on political differences is incivil. Nobody here was incivil. I questioned your understanding of the issues not your intellect. Not the same thing. When you post something on your blog are you just looking for people to agree with you? Are you implying that questioning you is incivil?

            I made my point about gun rights but wanted to debate the other topic I had issue with: You stated that Roe v Wade is not endangered just because it has stood for 39 years. How then can you explain the ever growing restrictions to the access of safe and affordable choice?
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/state-abortion-restrictions_n_1190307.html

            From the GOP platform,”We support the appointment of judges who respect the sanctity of innocent human life.” Two Supreme Court justices are likely to retire in the next four years. A Republican president would thereby put Roe v Wade in jeopardy, especially with the increased state restrictions facing legal muster. Roe v Wade is endangered despite its standing for 39 years.

            No I might not change your view, but by civil discussion and a thorough explanation of your view I might have better understanding. I think that is why there is incivility. Folks refuse to listen to one another.

            Agreeing to disagree is akin to a 15 year old saying “whatever.”

          • Cortney says

            I am not trying to prove you wrong, either. Perhaps I misunderstood your post, but it seemed to read as a call to civility and maturity in political discussions. And I think everyone here has been civil. I’m simply trying to understand some of the points you presented in your post, because a few of your conclusions do not make sense to me. I’m willing to admit that the logic by which I am evaluating your points may contain unfair assumptions or I might be lacking information, so I was asking for clarification.

            I stated above that I feel some of your replies veered into a more general discussion about civics and political engagement, which is why I mentioned my opinion that one should keep tabs on issues one says are important enough to base a vote on. That is something I expect out of everyone, not just you because you said you voted for Romney.

            You seem to be changing your view from “I wish we could discuss politics civilly as adults without attacking one another” to “I should be able to say whatever I want about politics and not have people present me with follow up questions.” I’m sorry if anything I said made you feel attacked, I truly did not mean it that way. I’m simply presenting factual information and asking for your opinion. You’re free to say you don’t want to discuss it, but I take issue with your twisting my fact based question into my trying to convince you you’re wrong.

          • Cortney says

            Sorry, one more thing- I think if one has to justify their position, the position may be shaky. For me, my positions should be adequately supported by well researched facts. Certainly we can all look at facts and draw different conclusions, but generally when one veers into justifications at all, we’ve moved into emotional territory. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t find it to be a way of setting public policy that I understand.

            So no, I’m not asking you to justify your position. I’m just curious as to why you think Obama, who has drastically expanded gun rights, is in some way a danger to your right to bear arms. I feel I’m missing a huge aspect of this worldview because I know many people who firmly believe Obama will curtail their right to bear arms, yet everything I have read and researched has said otherwise. So I’m genuinely, sincerely asking those for whom gun rights are a central issue to tell me what evidence they have to support their fear. And I ask that not because I want to “prove you wrong” but because I like to be educated on these issues. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, actually, and assuming that you might know something I don’t, or have a theory I, as a person not particularly concerned about gun rights, may never have thought of.

            How my asking you a question was interpreted as my trying to convince you you’re wrong is confusing to me. This isn’t even about Republican or Democrat, as I mentioned. This is just about my curiosity about this issue, since it seems to crop up a lot.

  20. Nadine says

    Hi V,
    Thank you for the post. I am a republican who feels very passionately that gay couples and straight couples should have equal rights in the eyes of the government. While both candidates may have had different beliefs, but they both said they would take the same action…leave it up to the states. So if people don’t understand how you can be for gay rights and vote for Romney, in my case, that’s how. Again, I appreciate your post, and many of the intelligent and thoughtful comments of your readers. If I was on twitter I would follow you! :)

    • says

      Nadine, thank you for your comment. I have had some commenters who seem to have all the time in the world to debate this ad nauseum, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to continue batting it about.

      Your comment is exactly my approach, although I have not articulated it to that degree. I do feel gays have the right to pursue the kind of equality in marriage they are looking for, but I am not an appointed champion of gay rights. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, it’s just that as a heterosexual, career-minded woman, it’s not at the top of MY list of criteria to consider when casting my ballot. I just don’t know why people don’t get this. I’m not being any more insensitive about gay rights by voting as I please than gays are being insensitive about my right to easily obtain a handgun in the state of North Carolina by voting as they please. They are concerned about what affects them most directly, and I’m concerned about what affects me most directly.

      Anyway, thanks again for your comment!

  21. says

    Oh dear Vahni, even here in your comment section it gets ugly. I really don’t like politics though I think it’s important to read about the issues (TV is a joke in my opinion) and make up our own minds on what is and is not important to us, and then vote based on the party and candidate we feel will do the least damage.

    Your “coming out” on Twitter blew my mind. That was SO courageous. Facebook is one thing, most of the people we connect with on there are our friends, but Twitter is an open forum. I was like, WOW. It gave me the courage to “come out” on Facebook the day after the election, though I think most of my friends already knew about my conservative political leanings.

    I’m so sorry you had such a negative experience supporting Romney on Twitter, but I’m really not surprised. I don’t understand why Americans can’t have a more civil political dialog, but it’s obvious that we have a lot of difficulty in that department. I know there’s nastiness on both sides, but I see a lot more on the left personally than I see on the right. Of course I live in a blue state and most of my friends are democrats. It’s pretty normal for me to hear comments like “Republicans are religious zealots and hateful idiots”. It’s depressing, but I think it’s important for me, as a fiscal conservative, to show people that being conservative is not what MSNBC presents. We’re normal people, concerned about the same issues as everyone else. Our approach to solving our national problems is different from the way those on the left would deal with the issues, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valid. It certainly doesn’t make us hateful bigots.

    I hope your experience doesn’t keep you away from Social Media for too long. I miss seeing your updates!

    • says

      Heather, thank you for this comment! Sometimes I think, Now why in the hell did I decide to go and _[FILL IN THE BLANK]_. Then I get comments like yours, and I remember this quote a beloved yoga teacher once shared with me:

      “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marianne_Williamson

      I think it sums up why I DO believe in owning up to who we really are, even when what we believe isn’t popular. Having the courage to be yourself, to speak your truth is something I never really contemplated in the past. I just do it. I often forget that others may not have the kind of fortitude or upbringing that allows them the same kind of transparency. Yours is not the first comment I received in which someone acknowledged that my openness about a potentially controversial topic gave them the courage to be more forthright about their own beliefs. You all keep me coming back to G&G, even when I’m not particularly inclined (like this whole year). So thank YOU for sharing your deepest thoughts and riding this out with me!

  22. says

    V, as always, well said and executed with grace! Some people just don’t understand the concept of freedom – it is for everyone, and gives you the right to free speech! You didn’t say anything offensive, so go on girl, school’em!

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