I was in a hotel room at Ogelbay Park in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Hotter than hell and beyond bored, I looked on in protest as my parents insisted on watching a political convention's entire evening of festivities on the room's lone television.
I recall buxom blondes in cowboy hats wearing shirts adorned with giant buttons and other assorted "flair." They appeared to be having the time of their lives. They didn't act or look anything like my mom. They did, however, bear a striking resemblance to my aunt who lived in Houston, Texas.
Based on vivid fashion memories alone, I tend to think it was the RNC’s week to shine.
You see, my folks watched both sides—just as I do. I wonder if I was raised by other people, would the side to which I lean hard today differ? I believe it would, for nurture is a very powerful force. I picked up on things as a child and my dad wore his political and sports leanings on his sleeve. As my father’s daughter, I resist the instinct to tell my kid, the one who seems old enough to notice my political streak, what she should think. Based on what that doe-eyed, usually delightful pre-teen said recently: “When I grow up, I’ll vote for the person, not the party,” I don’t think I’ve brainwashed her so far.
I felt the way she does about people and politics when I was 12, too. I’ve come to realize over the years and election cycles that the people with whom I most identify have a parenthesis with the letter D in it following their names. I have to acknowledge that more than a few people for whom I have great affection do not and will never feel the same way. My challenge is to determine what to do with that reality.
The fact is, I don’t want to fight about politics. I can't and don’t want to change hearts and minds any more than I want my heart or mind to be changed. Agreeing to disagree and being able—and free—to pull the lever of my choosing, is a freedom that I’ve pretty much always taken for granted.
I guess I’m starting to recognize that very freedom exists and endures because I live in a nation where you have a green light to “love” Donald Trump and I am free to “like” both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I am free to be a bleeding heart liberal who clings to idealism at every turn, and you are free to think whatever it is that you think.
And come November, that lever will still be there for both of us.
Before you get the impression that I’m some prancing Pollyanna deluded by democracy in the greatest nation on Earth, pump the breaks. I see nothing approaching perfection in this political system. My default setting is to see the negative and it is glaring. For that very reason, my hope has to spring eternal. I must look for the good and seek it. I have to aspire to “go high when others go low” because to engage in a battle fueled by resentment is far too uncomfortable and counterproductive for me today.
I cling to the Jimmy Carters who go out into the world to be of service—not to feed their egos or for personal gain. Their compassion and action is where it's at. Carter and others like him are the best reminders that the greater good isn’t about how you or I feel about “the issues,” but what we are willing to do about them.
I often have difficulty keeping in mind that people are neither all good nor all bad.
When I see musings and memes with which I disagree, I am compelled to focus on that which is good in the person doing the musing and not the musing itself, otherwise, Pollyanna that I am not, is inclined to “hate.” In my experience, harboring that particular emotion hasn’t made anything better for me or anyone else just yet.