A friend recently sent an email asking if I planned to vote for Obama or Romney.
The question surprised me since I make a very conscious effort to not talk about politics, a strange statement from someone who used to earn a living as a political speechwriter.
She’d sent me an editorial she’d written, articulate and smart, on a side of an issue where I firmly stand and asked for my help distributing it through social media. I politely declined.
As strongly as I feel about a candidate or issue, I feel equally strong about respecting someone else’s right to disagree. While working in politics, I saw too much intentional meanness on both sides.
Living in the swing state of Ohio, I’ve been inundated with political television ads, telephone calls and direct mail over the last several weeks. Each hoping to change my opinion with fancy talking points and snazzy editing.
This American Life on NPR aired a story on how friends and family stopped speaking because they disagreed politically. One brother-in-law refused to let his brother-in-law eat anything from his BBQ when he learned he voted differently than he did. “No brisket, no rib tips, nothing,” he bragged to the reporter as if his withholding meat proved his rightness further.
News outlets report stories daily on the Facebook diatribes and the loss of friends. When will it end? How does it help us as a country?
In the end, there are no winners or losers. We’re all in this together. By respecting opposing viewpoints and agreeing to disagree (in a civilized way), I think we can move forward. Together. Regardless of whose name you check on Election Day.
That’s real progress. That’s true kindness.