Saturday, November 01, 2008

Families are Forever ... Politics -- Not So Much

My Visiting Teachers came over the other day and one of them expressed concern over a difficulty in her family. Her parents are staunch Republican and her husband's parents are staunch Democrats. As we are facing possibly the most important election we've seen in our lifetimes, the debates rage not only on television, but in homes and between family members, and this sister is feeling torn. No matter how she votes, one side of the family will be angry with her.

As a side note, we're encouraged not to discuss politics when we visit teach, and I agree with that counsel. She brought up the election only as being the catalyst of a family argument, not for the purposes of discussing politics.

It's important that we vote our conscience this next Tuesday. Each registered voter in the nation will have the opportunity to walk into that poll booth and choose a candidate. We should understand the issues and discuss them with those around us. However, if those discussions are disrupting family relationships, it's time to pull back a little bit.

Arguing with Great-uncle Bertrand about his choice for president is not going to change his mind about who to vote for. But it will damage your relationship if you don't approach him with love and respect. I might disagree with the politics of certain of my family members, and they might disagree with mine. And while these election is hugely important and we all hope it goes our way, nearly half of us are going to be disappointed. Regardless of who wins the election, Bertrand is still your uncle.

I'm not trying to dissuade you from sharing your political beliefs. Far from it -- I think we all should calmly and respectfully share our reasons for voting the way we do. But let's keep in mind the simple truth that our family belongs to us, and we are tied to them for much longer than the term of president. Whoever comes to power in January will have, at most, eight years in office. Our families are forever. Let's not damage eternal relationships with careless words. Let's make sure to keep our conversations polite and respectful, even if we feel the need to disagree.


Jen said...

My political views are different from my parents', and I was shocked when my mother said something to me last week that I can only describe as "snarky." It made me sad, and you are so right Tristi.

Holly said...

Totally right there with you. I have a sister who is a staunch Democrat (although how much is for effect because she lives in Utah, I don't know). My husband is a strong Republican, as am I and the rest of the family. So, we no longer discuss politics at all when she is around. And I mean, Not. At. All. You can't. There's no point. You can't even have a respectful "discussion" most of the time with anyone who is opposite you these days (regardless of being related or not) because each candidate is so polarized in their supporters, so there's no point. I can talk with my other sisters because we agree, but none of us talk politics with the Democrat sister. There's no point.

She's not going to convince us that her candidate is America's savior, and we're not going to convince her to vote for ours. Our relationships are just fine, but we talk about other things and literally ignore that elephant/donkey in the room, but it has to be done. We all know it.

Framed said...

Great advice. I don't discuss politics with anyone too much because I'm not as well informed as I should be. I make a great listener.

Amanda said...

The most wonderful thing about my family is that everyone has an "agree to disagree" attitude. My mom and I both talk politics, even though we're on completely opposite sides, but neither of us do it in a way that's trying to convince the other to change their mind (even politely). We know nothing's going to do that, and we say our piece and laugh about it.

Jennifer said...

I love the comment about the elephant/donkey in the room. :)

I grew up in Utah, surrounded by Republicans in a household of staunch Democrats. I learned very early in life that every four years, you need to lock yourself in your room with a pillow over your ears for a few months. :D

Some of my family members were at our house last week and they got to talking about politics. Let's just say that I was very uncomfortable. I should just get a backbone one of these days and tell them I'd rather not discuss politics with them, but my general program is to clam up and hope the subject changes quickly. I've never discussed how I vote with them, and I don't plan to in the future, whether I vote with them or not. It's just too stressful.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Excellent point, Tristi. My hubby is very into politics - and I kind to keep up with it all (although I am very opinionated!). Each year, we talk about the issues, we talk about candidates, but we never talk about who we each are going to vote for until after the elections.

I've found this has been very good for our relationship. Like your visiting teacher, my hubby's parents are very vocal and "set" in their views. We tend to gloss over our opinions when we talk with them, because their own opinions are very different and can cause quite a bit of contention.

I'm grateful my hubby takes the lead and teaches our kids (and me) that it's important to know what's happening with our country and the world. It's important to exercise our right to vote. But it's also important to respect other's opinions as well.

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