I am extremely political. I work for a politician, I campaign for Senator Ted Cruz, I write for a conservative blog and work political press at times. I love the United States of America, capitalism, liberty and freedom. Politics is my passion, it’s what I’m good at, and I thrive in the environment.
So you might be confused when I say that getting onto social media after the Iowa Caucus and seeing all the political posts made me cringe. I didn’t have a problem with the topic of conversation at all. However, the ridiculous spectrum that people had when talking about politics made me want to beat my head against a wall. This spectrum is just awful and needs to stop…like, right now.
The spectrum I’m talking about looks something like this:
Apathetic and irritated with Middlers. Total political jerk. politically passionate people.
On the left, you have the person who is extremely apathetic* about politics and/or berates and belittles those who actually have a political backbone and stand for things as being ‘hateful’, ‘argumentative’ and ‘obsessive’. On the right, you have the total political jerks. They’re the ones who are rude and horrible to other candidates and campaigns, other voters and the like; they’re the ones who can’t find more intelligent comments than calling names and attacking people personally.
Although I think that when the word ‘moderate’ pops up in politics it usually just describes a person who hasn’t done anything and doesn’t stand for anything, this is a great example of a place where people need to learn moderation. Therefore, I have decided to compile a short list of dos and don’ts that can help people have a political backbone without becoming a jerk (or, at least make you come back toward the middle if you’re on either end of the spectrum).
Don’t: Tell people that having a backbone and being passionate means they’re not Christlike.
This is at the top of the list for me because it is the one that personally impacts me the most. I know many Christians that are on the left of the spectrum who just don’t take a stand for any of their convictions or beliefs (if they have them), and they condemn others who do take a stand. If you do this, knock it off. If you examine the Bible, especially the Gospels, you find examples time and time again of godly men and women who fiercely and zealously stood up and spoke out or defended their beliefs and convictions.
For goodness sake, when you look at the life of Jesus, nothing about him was apathetic or mouselike. Jesus didn’t cower-he radically spoke about the new order of life and what people needed to be doing to be like him, all the while knowing that people were going to find it offensive. Christlikeness doesn’t mean trying to never offend anybody or just being sweet and quiet all the time so you don’t bother anybody; it doesn’t even necessarily mean you always have to be the world’s definition of ‘nice’. Put Christ first and foremost, don’t sin in your political advocating and campaigning, but then grab yourself a backbone and realize that it is perfectly okay to have zeal and passion when speaking about the issues and candidates.
Do: Separate political stances from people.
This is for everyone. This is personally a hard one for me, as it boggles my mind how people can experience the liberty and freedom found in Christ, and then support a candidate or things like socialism that take freedom away from people (not to pick a fight here, I just personally don’t get it). Although there’s always people who make themselves an exception to this rule, realize that people can be great and awesome and have terrible political views (and by terrible, I mean terrible when comparing them to your own).
Specifically for those people on the left side of the spectrum, please realize that going after somebody’s political views, endorsements and acts is not attacking them personally. If someone is going into office, they are expecting to have their actions sliced to pieces and examined. Being able to disagree with someone’s political views, argue against them and still like the person is part of the beauty of the American political system. There are many Democrats I work alongside of in the Iowa House that I blatantly disagree with and would call out on much of their political dealings, yet, I still think they’re great people.
Don’t: Name call and use profanity.
Just don’t. It makes you look stupid and like you lack intelligence. Harsh, but true.
Do: Refrain from personally attacking people.
Whether this means personally attacking a candidate or another voter, it’s just something you should stay away from. As a conservative and a member of the Republican Party, I have been personally attacked again and again by liberals and Democrats (example: “You judge EVERYONE.”), and trust me, personally attacking someone does not make them change their political views. In my case, it just makes me roll my eyes and wonder where you’re hiding your smart political comments. There are some cases when something is so blatantly wrong in a person’s personal life or something outside their political career (Trump and Clinton both come to mind) that it becomes fair game to talk about in connection to their politics, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Don’t: Worship your candidate.
If you absolutely adore your candidate and can find no wrong with them, news for you! You’re not a supporter any more-you’re an idolater. If you can’t find a single thing you disagree with when it comes to your candidate’s politics, you need to go back and examine whether or not you’ve actually dug into their policies and actions or whether you’ve been brainwashed into supporting them. The beauty is that there probably will never be a candidate you support 100%, but knowing where you disagree with them and being able to live with it and still support them gives you the freedom to vote for them while not feeling like you have to defend every little action (especially when you’re defending something that’s plain ol’ wrong and it’s driving everyone around you crazy).
So there you have it. Hope that short list helps you to be informed, campaign passionately if that is your desire and still refrain from being a jerk.
* Although I encourage people to be involved in the system at least through voting and have a say in how the government is run, apathy in this case means the people who couldn’t care less about politics and think that everybody else shouldn’t either.