Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I care about my politics. You care about your politics. But I probably don't care about your politics. And if I do, I'll ask.

I have had this blog nearly five years now and a fair volume of political commentary has appeared on it. Nothing wrong with that. No one is forced to read a blog so if something offensive shows up in the text, it is easy enough to close the page and never type in that web address again. My problem has more to do with immediate declarations of political allegiance before I've even gotten acquainted with someone.

The latest example is some stranger on a social networking site sending me a friend request. To begin with, I do not understand this practice. At the very least, if you want to be my friend and we've never spoken at all, send me a message saying "hello, we don't know each other, but you seem like a nifty guy." I would probably agree to be friends with someone like that, even if it's what the person says to everyone to whom he or she sends a friend request. At least it's cordial. But this message contained no salutation or explanation; somebody I don't know apparently wanted to be my friend. So I looked at his profile. One of the first things to appear was his declaration that he was of a particular political persuasion and was, furthermore, "proud of it." Seriously. He was proud of his political philosophy.

Doesn't this go without saying? Unlike being Irish or from New Mexico or over six feet tall, political philosophies are something individuals choose. If we weren't proud of our own politics, chances are we would change them. A guy who's proud to be Persian I can respect. He didn't choose to be Persian but he has decided, on the whole, it's a nice state of affairs. Great. But a guy who is proud to be a Democrat or a Republican, proud to be pro-life or pro-choice, proud to be in favor of school vouchers, well, I understand less.

There is a distinction here, I suppose. If tomorrow afternoon Representative Andre Carson rescues seventeen children from a burning school bus, I guess it's all right to say "that makes me proud to be a Democrat." By the same token, if Charles Rangel throws a tomato at a four year old child and further explains there is no Santa Claus, it's probably okay to say you're embarrassed to be a Democrat, at least for the short-term. Those are situational declarations. But to just say you're proud to be something that, presumably, you would alter if you weren't proud of it doesn't make a lot of sense. And anyway, the next day Olympia Snowe might rescue those school children and Richard Lugar might throw that tomato. What does the person who felt pride and embarrassment at the actions of his fellow Democrats feel when Republicans bask in both the zenith and nadir of daily activities?

In politics, bear in mind, there is always a sense of victimization and of taking a stand, a kind of implication that while others may be ashamed to call themselves conservative/liberal, you most certainly are not and are prepared to shout your allegiances from the mountaintops. Well, all right, if you insist. But must it be the first thing I see on your social networking profile? And if you say it must, again, that's fine, but in that case, I'm not sure I want to be your friend, not if we are previously unacquainted. I'm willing to put up with unsolicited political pronouncements from existing friends, but I find myself far more guarded with potential friends.

Perhaps I'm making too much of this. People shouldn't have to fear talking about politics or walk on eggshells to avoid offending others who may disagree. But so often I find that people who are verbose about their political views in the presence of relative strangers react poorly to disagreement. There seems to exist an inverse curve; the more prone a person is to unprovoked political diatribes, the less inclined the person is to tolerate someone else's opinions. If you ask me about my politics, I don't mind discussing them. If you're of a dissenting opinion, you're free to say so. But loudmouths, while within their rights, can fairly be said to have personality defects. Loudmouths like to claim their right to free speech is being challenged when they blow off their big bazoos about something and another person steps in asks them to shut the hell up. Wrong, loudmouths. You have a right to talk. I have a right to say put a sock in it. You have a right to continue talking. I have a right to think you're a creep if you do. Nobody's rights have been trampled.

There's so much going on in the world but so little to write about. What more is there to say about BP? Or Afghanistan? Or the economy, not quite recovering, not quite declining, flat out confusing? Well, there's General McChrystal, an interesting affair but not one on which I'm very knowledgeable. If I were a loudmouth, I'd pretend to understand the affair intimately.


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