The politics of Facebook…


How many will shut FB down for the next two months? It’s tempting for those of us who get caught up in election cycles. If we can’t handle Fakebook jabs, I can only imagine how difficult it must it must be in the real world of politics.

Not everyone agrees with me nor do I agree with everyone. But, I do think it’s a fun little social experiment on myself to gage my reactions every time a “like” icon pops up by one of my ‘friends’ who have identified their candidate of choice. At first it startled me. I found myself surprised at the direction some of my peers were leaning.

But in the end, I don’t care who you will for vote for as much as WHY you are voting for them. I don’t need a stump speech. I passed my high school Civics class and clearly get the difference between our two major political parties. And this is where my frustration lies with Facebook politics. Sharing snarky photos or so called “inspirational quotes” of people who are either dead or not actively involved in the political process doesn’t really inform me about why someone chooses a candidate. I personally don’t care what Betty White or Clint Eastwood have to say about our political candidates because as funny, biting, and entertaining as they may be, their voices do little to inform me about how the general public is feeling. But somehow we have come to this place in our culture where those voices seem to matter more than our own.

Have the people of this great land let our opinions and concerns get drowned out by caricatures and countless ill-intentioned sound-bites?

I wonder.

And then I look at myself and try to figure out what I have done on a personal and local level. Have I consulted with my representatives? Written letters to my Senators? Sadly, the answer is no with one exception. That would be regarding the marriage amendment that will be placed on our ballot. I worked like a dog writing legislators begging them not place the amendment on the ballot. I wrote Democrats and Republicans alike to no avail. I did not storm the capital because it wasn’t realistic for my life at the time, but I WANTED TO.

I am deeply involved in that fight and I like it because the simple fact is that gay, transgender, and bisexual people are everywhere. They are Democrats and Republicans and Hispanic and black and Catholic and Jewish and Islam. People deserving fair treatment seems to be palatable to many except for those tied too fiercely to dogma.

But our political system draws ire like no other. I know it’s fighting season, but I don’t like it. Instead of all the energy blasting each other, it seems like time could be much better spent listening and trying to focus on common ground. For people so clearly tired of a flawed system, it seems the little energy we have left for solutions is spent on frivolous matters like the clothing allowances of the spouses of the candidates. I fail to see how that matters to the issues at hand.

Here are just a few things on my mind:

As a conservative woman, how do you advance pro-woman causes? I was lucky enough to spend some time with some thoughtful conservative women who really feel this concern and they are at a loss. They feel uncertain about their vote. The overall small government philosophy speaks to them, but the treatment of Sandra Fluke and all that it represents about the Republican party left them aghast and they are struggling in an earnest way.

The war! Have we forgotten the war? Who is talking about it? What are we doing? Not enough and it seems each candidate is saying as little as possible. Bin Laden is dead, but the war is not.

I find the issues of the day interesting and challenging and while I may not agree, I don’t need to be right. I just need be heard. I know too many people who get mad, shut down, or tune out, and that is when I find the real problems begin.

So for now my little plea is to stay connected…even if only on FB. If you look past the quips, you might actually learn something and if you feel compelled to respond, do so with care and good intentions. Whether you agree with the “we’re all in this together” philosophy or not, we are. We are friends and neighbors and work mates and family and coaches and teachers and business partners and parents.

The stakes are just too high to tune out.