It’s election season again which means a few things. First, it means that I have to avoid going onto Facebook after having so much as a deep inhalation of wine for fear I’ll defriend 63% of the people I know. It also means that I get to buy all sorts of awesome Presidential swag which is up there with sitting on a bench at a mall after drinking too much wine and “observing” the passersby. If you know anything about me, you know that I will do pretty much anything for awesome swag. I work with start ups because I love the pace and the innovation, but mostly I do it because they always have cool shit to give me. I recently acquired the sweetest zip up hoodie from a current client and I’ve treated it much like a puppy might treat its most beloved stuffed friend. I should have washed this thing long ago, but the thought of having it out of my site is too much to bear. I simply can’t do it. I’d rather repel human contact than wash it. And I have.
So you better believe I purchased a whole Obama (oh, right, like you didn’t see that one coming) swag bag, including the SINGLE MOST OBNOXIOUSLY AWESOME T SHIRT EVER: Texans for Obama. Nothing chaps the ass of a conservative more than seeing an outright anomaly like that. It’s like seeing a woman CEO. They see it, but they just don’t get it. Why is that woman not fetching water on her head?
Election season also marks a period of time in which the hubs and I have absolutely no idea what’s happening if it didn’t happen on MSNBC or NPR. I didn’t even know Andy Williams died. That’s a true story. My favorite Christmas crooner died and I was too busy watching Lawrence O’Donnell lose his mind over his distaste for Good Ole Mitt to notice. It’s a sickness. I serendipitously learned that with my satellite radio I can tune into MSNBC and listen until I get home and can join the hubs. But, in case you’re thinking, “wait. that’s so wrong; so one sided” you should know that we do occasionally switch over to Fox news to make sure we disagree. So far, there hasn’t been an issue.
But politics aside (I don’t want to lose both of my blog followers), election season reminds me that the spirit of lively debate is a big fucking lie. I file it under collaboration and compromise. Total bullshit. Compromise is just two people losing. As for collaboration, let me just say this: blarg. Collaboration is founded on the premise that two minds are better than one. A premise that I agree with, but that’s called ideation. Collaboration is usually one person, generally with my personality type, trying not to be overbearing while coaxing the equivalent of nothing out the six other people who either don’t care, are too afraid to speak, or just want to argue with me. To make things worse, it’s the person like me’s job to say things like, “awesome” “great thought” “tell me more” when what I want to say is, “are you fucking kidding me with this drivel? Turn on your goddamned brain and give me something that’s going to further mankind.” And believe me, if “we” come up with something good, it’s a win for the team. If I come up with something bad, I will be standing all alone. It’s happened a few times.
Just like all girls are not pretty, all ideas are not good ideas. There are some really stupid ideas. Lighting yourself on fire, for example, is a stupid idea. Chelsea Clinton is not pretty. These are not things that we sit around and dispute. These are things that we accept. The spirit of debate assumes that there can be two answers to every problem (not true) and that there are no indisputable facts (not true either). I refer to the Chelsea Clinton example above. (Though I will say, since I know Bill reads the blog regularly, she’s done a damn good job with what she has. The entire country mourned the election of her as our first daughter back in ’92, but a hair straightener and some microdermabraison has done incredible things for her appearance. And her spirit.)
But getting back to the spirit of debate. I hate finding people who like lively debate. There is almost nothing worse than someone who loves to “engage in a lively debate.” I don’t want to engage in that. I want to engage in a conversation in which you agree emphatically with everything I say, cannot stop nodding your head in agreement, and finish almost all of my sentences before we squeal and say, “OMG! I TOTALLY AGREE!” And you know why that is? Not because I have any problem with being wrong, but because most people don’t know how to debate. They think the point is to change my mind. If you want to change my mind, you best get in line behind my mother and her 28 years of ineffectual attempts. Debate is about civil disagreement and presenting compelling evidence to support an idea or action. It’s not about disagreement. You don’t win because you felt good. If that were true I’d have had a lot more second dates in my life. I date that back. I’d have a lot more first dates. I’d have a lot more of a lot of things.
This is by no means a commentary on the debates of the last few weeks. I don’t want to touch that with a 26 foot pole, but rather the tension that is created between friends and strangers during election season. Everyone gets all feisty and competitive. You’d think making a comment about Ryan’s ears was treason, punishable by death. HE’S NOT YOUR BROTHER. HE’S A POLITICIAN. And the man has hugemongous ears. You could shelter a Haitian family under there.
We can disagree about business strategy, what to wear to an interview, how to train a puppy, or who to elect for president, but it’s not a personal affront, it’s a difference of opinion. When we pass hatred and vilification off as disagreement or debate, we’ve missed the point. And the opportunity. My mother hates that I have the mouth of a sailor. And she’s presented her case. And while I understand her position and agree with her feelings in so far as they relate to her, they case isn’t compelling enough to me personally. And last I checked, my mom doesn’t hate me. She doesn’t take away my right to augment any given point with use of the word fuck. She just cringes. And lives her life.
So maybe think about this during election season: you have a choice. Using choice to limit the choices of others is a tough proposition. So no matter your politics, think about what things matter and what things make you cringe. Because, truthfully, cringing isn’t the end of the world. Cringing has brought great change to this country and this world.