Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hotbeds and Discourse

Lately I have been a hotbed of political activity. Everywhere I turn, people are asking me for my opinion on the lay of the political land. I am not being facetious, it's true.

While I have definite political leanings, I love to discuss alternate leanings; I love to hear what you have to say. To have a discussion with friends about what they think, who they like, what they believe in and to contrast that to your own is practically the definition of enlightenment.

Isn’t it amazing when you can have a conversation with someone and feel like you’ve been heard and that you’re hearing them? When your opinion will soften because of their argument and their opinion is equally expanded because of your argument? They’re more than 200 years gone, but the idea of salons isn’t a dream I want to let die.

I have said many times to my friends that I don’t care-care what they believe in as long as they come by their opinions honestly and earnestly—not by hearsay or inheritance. Tell me why you believe what you do, and be ready to back up your opinions, be ready to make your argument.

I don’t like name calling, or assumptions, or meanness, because they are not just divisive, they are corrosive elements designed to keep us from truly congressing with each other. I have been ashamed at the low level of political dialogue—with polemics and saturnine demagoguery on each side. I particularly despise the rumor-mongers and partisan half-truths that emerge from much of radio and television media; it is puerile garbage, and we would all do better to rise above the trickery and base emotion.

One of the worst things to ever happen to our national conversation is the advent of 24 hour news and the demand that the beast be fed, no matter the carcasses that are flung from the fray. What’s the first carcass? Civic and civil dialogue.

This is the time of an election year where I’m usually in full swing: reading, listening, watching, and combing for information. I love the start of election season; it’s been my favorite since 1992. However, this year is different.

Although this is the most exciting race, perhaps one of the most exciting we will see in our lifetimes, I feel a little detached. I am still completely wounded by our last election. My heart hurts for what could have been. It’s not that I was a great fanatic of Kerry, but the alternative? Well, he and his actions will be judged by history, and the rumblings are it will not be a kind assessment. I believe that by and large, we get the government we deserve. What that says about our current state I’d rather not explore.

So, this year, instead of being mean, instead of being derisive, instead of ignoring the tremendous opportunity and burden of a republic, let’s engage.

Don’t accept what people tell you on blind faith, either the talking heads or the demagogues. Do some research, explore what’s being asked of you, do what you can for our country. Go ahead, stop by my desk, come over for cocoa, we should talk about what we want and how we should get there. Let’s open our minds and have a conversation without ridicule and finger-pointing.

Wouldn’t that be a change on which we could all agree?


I thought I would link to some good political discussions and friends who are starting to lend their support to specific candidates. Go ahead, explore a little.

Susie on what lead her to support Ron Paul.

Mandee thinks you should consider supporting Mitt Romney.

Compulsive leads a discussion (salon?) on Mitt Romney's Faith in America speech.

Miggy reflects on the GOP debate and why she might be a Republicrat.

Michelle asks you about media and politics.

Cammie argues 'Why not universal health care?'

Fig on some of the things she's been hearing about all the candidates and why maybe, just maybe, she might be digging Hillary.

Feel free to send me your links and posts about this political season.

I'll try to keep posting different viewpoints as we go down this road.

Go republic!


Michael said...

"I don’t like name calling, or assumptions, or meanness, because they are not just divisive, they are corrosive elements designed to keep us from truly congressing with each other."
That must make being politically involved extremely hard in Utah. Was the representation in This Divided State pretty accurate?

Azúcar said...

It can be very, very hard.

I get so discouraged at the rancor and the outright hostility. You wouldn't believe the names I've been called.

However, if I can't fight the good fight, who will? All I can do is stand up for what I believe.

I only saw about half of This Divided State, but I lived it, and it was pretty accurate.

I am assuaged that more and more of my friends and acquaintances are shaking off their preconceptions and truly starting to question what they believe and what they want.

I don't care what your opinions are if you come by them honestly, and not because you are parroting some demagogue as if by rote. Think for yourself!

Michelle said...

I agree- I too like to hear others opinions. I think if you can't consider or keep an opened mind you are in danger of becoming dogmatic. I remember the last election and we had a quiet month in our home- we tuned news and politics out for a long time. I am excited about this year and I think it would do everyone well to really do their homework, listen, and watch.

Mrs. Dub said...

amen on several counts.

i don't mind a passionate opinion (and have quite a few me-self), but i hate it when people are totally close-minded, insistent that there is only ONE right way to view anything or plain jerks.

especially the jerks part.

Gritty Pretty said...

dear azucar,

most of my side of the family are republicans. my husband's family lean towards being green or democrats. but BOTH sides of my very politically charged extended family are backing Obama. I never thought they would all agree especially about my current favorite candidate. what is going on?

i agree with your post that this is a key election. and i think it's worth it to continue researching the candidates' voting records and views.

Sue said...

Yes, yes, and yes. And also - yes. Great post. I actually won't talk about politics with my family because it sometimes dissolves into something - not pretty. I think out of 9 kids we have five registered republicans, three registered democrats and one registered independent (me). While we mostly keep it calm and rational, there are one or two who are devotees of certain radio personalities, and they get all of their political opinions straight from that source, which is frustrating. I'm all for having a different opinion, I just appreciate it more when it's based on fact, and not on polemics.

Sue said...

P.S. Your last comment on my shoe post made me laugh my butt off. I do NOT have crocs, had not thought about getting crocs, and after reading your post, will forever after live in fear of actually owning a pair of crocs. :>

Azúcar said...

I am a proponent of open discourse, but if you decide to get Crocs, I'm serious, I won't talk to you again.

c jane said...

I have Crocs and they are my favorite shoes. They aren't whole-y but they are without guile.

And some more things:

1.) I called Huckabee Huckabum on my blog. I've also called him Chuckabee on my blog. I wanted to call him Hucakbutt, but I thought it sounded too crude. This to say that I have thrown my hat in the "name calling" ring.

2.) My soul wants me to vote for Obama. Do I trust my soul?

3.) As I stated in an e-mail to you earlier, as a Mormon I don't know if I am ready to have a Mormon president.

Also, I have owned a lot of shoes in my lifetime, but none get the public response of my Crocs. Strangers ask about them, family members ask if it is okay to get the same pair. I think that Obama should ask my Crocs to be his running mate.

Then my soul will rejoice.

P.S. Very much enjoyed this post Zuc.

Azúcar said...

Alright, alright, I want to give you a pass because you're pregnant. As we all know, you get a pass on fashion when you're knocked up; it's perfectly OK to be idiosyncratic while pregnant--for heavens sake, I wore flip-flops when I was pregnant.

However, I'm pretty sure that you like your crocs no matter your gestational state.

But Sue? Sue is not allowed.

Fig said...

I want to have a salon. I hadn't even heard the term before this (historically stoopid, that's me), except in the big hair sense, and now I'm intrigued. This is a virtual salon we're having here, right?

I have Crocs too, but they're from last summer and the summer before that and I don't wear them anymore. And I'm not pregnant. Can I be forgiven and come back to the fold?

Fig said...

Also, Azucar, you are a perfect example of outspoken sassiness SANS meanness, which is what I am ALWAYS trying to achieve (and very rarely succeeding) so I think you're the perfect hostess for our virtual salon.

And thanks for being a good example.

Midge said...

If nothing else, being informed allows you to debunk co-workers stupid emails. No Obama isn't Muslim even though is name rhymes with Osama.
I've been trying to find a good home for this desk I have and thought maybe you or someone you know would be interested.
I don't know that it's authentic MCM but it's cute. It has another piece that attatches to make a corner desk unit if you are interested. Free of coarse.

cafe rio whore said...

I will vote for the mormon because I'm a mormon. Anyone who's a mormon who doesn't vote for the mormon shouldn't be allowed to take the sacrament. My bishop said we all have to vote for the mormon, and so that's what I'll do because I always do everything my bishop tells me to do and he always tells me who to vote for. Besides, who wants a woman or a black president? AND, I read in this one email that Hillary Clinton and all these other democrats were born when aliens landed in New Mexico or something, so THAT just explains EVERYTHING right there, doesn't it? Ha. Ha ha.

Am'n2deep said...

Azucar, you are inspiring. Now don't hate me, but I have the political savvy of your average 8 year old. I can't STAND games and facades, and people telling you what you want to hear when they have no intention of following through--can't stomach that...and unfortunately for that very reason, and because I have believed it will never change,I have turned my head and chosen not to get involved. Is that the right way to be? I'm sure not! This year, I must admit, I am tempted to educate myself. Thanks for the links. I'll start there, and then hopefully I'll feel more motivated to check it all out for myself and decide what I believe and stand for.

fijiangirl said...

cafe rio whore's comment made me laugh out loud! I watched the dems debate the other night and was surprised to find myself agreeing with Richardson but where is his foreign policy? If he has one he didn't show it, every question on foreign policy he brought it back to domestic issues. As a registered GOP and having worked on the HILL... only opinion I have formed on that side is that I don't like Huckabee! I really enjoyed the debate or forum on Sunday night for the republicans... two words... net net?

Azúcar said...


It's sad that Richardson isn't talking more about what could possibly be his greatest strength: his foreign policy experience.

The man is a skilled diplomat who has worked in the cabinet, as well as having been governor of New Mexico. I think one of the problems with his campaign is that his extensive foreign policy experience is NOT being touted--probably in the assumption that Americans don't like to hear about foreign policy, they like to hear about domestic policy.

And it's true: foreign policy experience will not get you elected in this country (sad, but still true.)

Richardson's diplomatic experience is one reason why I think he would be an excellent vice presidential candidate to the three front runners for the Democratic nomination. All of the front runners are not as experienced as they could be, with Hillary as the probably the strongest of the three. Richardson is one to keep an eye on in the next couple months.

Mandee said...

For the record, I am Mormon, and republican, and I think Mitt Romney is hot.

But for more than that, he gets my vote. If he doesn't end up being an option, my second choice is Giuliani. And if I have to live with a democrat in the White House, I choose Obama.

But seriously, democrat or republican, how can you not like Mitt?

compulsive writer said...

I was ecstatic when news sources started adding comments to their stories because I too am hungry for the type of discourse that I assume occurred in the salons.

I couldn't have been more disappointed. The trolls and the ignoramuses completely ruined it for me. (Sometimes I actually get embarrassed for complete strangers.)

Last night my eight-year-old told me he was voting for Obama. I asked him what he likes about Obama. He wants him to end the war and he thinks he is a nice looking guy. It was a great discussion.

As for me, I'm still undecided. I'm just hoping to be able to vote for someone and not just against someone else.

And as far as elections go, I'm learning there are two kinds of disappointments: You can be wounded by your disappointment that your candidate didn't win; but you can be wounded by your disappointment that the person for whom you voted let you down and disillusioned you. It's a bummer either way.

Great post. It will be an interesting year, for sure.

compulsive writer said...

p.s. CRW's comment would be funnier if I didn't know people--even people I love--who really think and say things like that. Sometimes I just look at them and think, Huh?

Azúcar said...

"But seriously, democrat or republican, how can you not like Mitt?"

GREAT question, Mandee. In my case, it's because I like the old Mitt.

Where is the governor of Massachusetts? Where is that guy?

I am far more in line with the positions that he favored while governor of MA than this new Mitt. That guy was a centrist Republican that could work with both sides to reach compromise. This new Mitt is trying so desperately to appeal to the party base (or at least the base that show up and vote in elections) that I wonder if he's doing harm to himself and his long term credibility when he decides to move to the center again if/when he takes the nomination.

I don't fault anyone for changing their mind, but also don't expect me to keep supporting you when we no longer agree. I have specific questions about his immigration policy as well.

All that being said, I haven't decided who to vote for yet. Mitt isn't permanently off my list by any means.

Azúcar said...

Permanently off my list:

Tom Tancredo
Dennis Kucinich

Michelle said...

You do have to wonder if Kucinich was taller and not so squirrelly looking he may have had more appeal. If he looked like Romney people might have wanted to stop and listen a little longer. But I agree he's off my list too.

Adria Sha said...

Enlightening and entertaining.


Marge Bjork said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sue-donym said...

I am scared for CJane. She didn't own crocs this summer - I know cuz she told us she didn't when they were recommended to her for Girls Camp. Now she has them and you are saying it's ok because she is pregnant? I'm not buying it. Nor do I agree. Pregnancy is never a time to lower your standards.
Sorry, I am just really passionate about these things. Thanks for posting this important topic for us to discuss. Oh wait, it was about politics right? Okay, well I'm voting for whoever my MIL isn't voting for.

c jane said...

Sue don't you think that the pundits should be debating Croc wear too?

Tis true I didn't own a pair of Crocs until they came out with their Alice style which is a sweet little Mary-Jane flat in spicy colors. I picked up a pair pre-pregnancy and I stand by my position that any other Croc style are an abomination to our country. And Australia.

elizabeth said...

I really wish I lived in Utah so that I COULD come over, drink cocoa and chat (and apologize). I think you would be surprised to learn my TRUE political beliefs. I have learned from you and your comments, even through the Internet, and I admire your strong position and courage to defend it.

Katie said...

I really like Barack Obama... maybe - because I want a change... a big change. I really love his website too... (or something like that...) he is so refreshing- and new... this is an exciting election... we will see.

Katie said...

You seriously made my day with your comment on my blog... I am putting you on my sidebar (have wanted to for awhile) I think you are one of the coolest blogchicks I know (or think I know?!#$) I will be a frequent visitor.

sue-donym said...

cjane I have not seen the new style croc. I may have to flip flop my opinion. That seems to be in style now too.

Rynell said...

I may have to vote for whomever I dislike the least. I agree with something almost every candidate has to say, but I disagree with so many things they say too.

I took some pick your candidate quizzes and I ended up choosing people I didn't know, who are not exactly front-runners. Further investigation is certainly required.

Kacy said...

Yeah, why doesn't Mitt like immigrants?

Lois said...

CJane wants to vote for Obama? The SAME CJane who backed away horrified while we were lining up to vote (at the infamous car dealership) when she realized I was a registered Democrat? What???

I liked Joe Biden. Since I have to type everything the politicians say for my job, I base my decision on who I wouldn't mind transcribing for the next four years. Biden just cracked me up. But alas, no Biden in my future.

I was very excited when Mitt jumped in the race because of his universal health care plan for Massachusetts (alas, NO health care plans for artists). But as soon as he became a candidate, his views on health care took a complete 180. WHAT???

Now I'm back to square one.

i i eee said...

I'm really curious why people keep saying they like Obama. Everyone keeps saying they're for change, and Obama is for change...what does that mean?

I admit, I haven't done enough research on him myself, but whomever I talk with who wants to vote for him doesn't seem to have done much research either.

Honestly, I really just have a huge problem with Oprah. People claim they worry that Mitt Romney would be taking orders from the prophet...I don't think Obama has Oprah in his back pocket...more the other way around. Oprah's scary, y'all.

I have to say though, the only candidate that I'm really against right now is Huckabee. If not just his views on women's issues, or his support for freeing a convicted serial rapist, but also goodness gracious, I don't think I could handle having a president with that last name. I've seen one too many haters call him F*ckabee...amongst other things (C Jane! Ha!) and as stupid as it sounds, we need someone who can garner respect from both sides...and with a name like that....;)