…No, let’s not.
Ever since election season began, I–like many of you, I’m sure–have had many, many frustrations boiling deep within me (Don’t EVEN get me started on the propriety of Biden’s laugh.) However, unfortunately, politics can be a bit of a touchy subject, which is why people usually don’t regularly open up conversations about political ideology very often (at least when it comes to members of the opposing political party.) So instead, our frustrations stay deep within us, burning bright alongside the stress that school naturally brings. For those of those who don’t have a therapist, diary, and/or friends, what do we do to vent? We let our frustrations out on a medium where people can’t understand tone at all, where words are more often misconstrued than not, and where explaining yourself involves spending a considerable amount of time typing long paragraphs. Yes, friends, we go to Facebook.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been just as guilty of this as anyone has (Yeah, Audrey, we know.) However, as time has progressed, and as the election has drawn nearer, I ironically have found myself withdrawing from political communication altogether–on and off Facebook. Why, you ask? Because really, at the end of the day, it really is absolutely pointless.
For example, last week, there I was, sitting in the first floor of the LRC, when suddenly I heard two large, booming voices. This was the day after the first presidential debate (you know, that one where all Obama did was look down and smirk at his notes.) And of course, no two people would ever be talking that loudly or that passionately unless they were talking politics. Which they were. One individual was an Obama man; the other, committed to Mitt.
The conversation between these two individuals instantly drew me in, and solely because it was entertaining. I mean here you have two strapping gentleman, totally going at it in the LRC (get your mind out of the gutter.) It was awesome…kind of like the way that a really good sports event is awesome. You like a good game, and you like a close game. And you love cheering on your team and then fist pumping the air when they score a point. Well, that’s what this was, really. It was something I had an interest it; it was heated, it was suspenseful aaaand…it completely wasted the 30 minutes I should have been spending reading for class.
Think about these heated political conversations in comparison to the presidential debates. No one really watches those things to figure out what position he or she should take on any given issue. If you do, I really am quite curious as to how you learn anything from either party. Debates really accomplish one thing, and that is to show how people carry themselves, and how well they can make an argument. It’s all superficial, and honestly these debates don’t really tell you much, because each party has its own way of presenting a fact or issue. And after it’s all over, everyone still goes back to their laptops to research and check the facts of whatever was said in the debate (Or at least that’s what you better be doing…) Nonetheless, we love them.
So you get when I mean when I call this debate in the LRC for what it was: pointless and superficial. Not to say that these two people didn’t know anything about their respective positions, which I’m sure they did, but I was not listening to them because I wanted to discover what the pros and cons of Obamacare are. I was definitely listening because it was straight up entertaining. But OK, aside from entertainment, when we get into scenarios like these, what are we honestly expecting? For the other side to say, “Oh my goodness! I never thought of it that way! I agree?” Let’s wake up, shall we?
Now, look, I’m not dissing on the “robust, political debate” that is essential to democracy (freaking New York Times v. Sullivan…) I think that political discussions between moderate people are usually really effective. But with people on the more extreme ends of the spectrum, there really comes a fine line between discussions that seek to foster truth, learning, and general mature behavior, and those debates which really serve no other purpose than to say “Let me show you why I am right and you are wrong.” And let’s get real, people. We’re law students. It’s an ego thing. Don’t even try to deny that that latter motive hasn’t ever floated around in your subconscious.
When it comes to anyone who is passionate about their beliefs–and I think it is important for people to have beliefs, and be passionate about them–all I’m saying is that when you open up a convo with someone who doesn’t think the way that you do, you kind of have to do a cost-benefit-analysis. There’s a great risk of offense, and really no tangible reward. So play nicely kids. Oh, and keep calm and vote for Rom. (Come on, you really thought I was going to post something politically neutral?)