Think back to the last time that you had a disagreement with someone that you trusted. Someone you really liked, or even loved.
I’m not talking about the kind of disagreement that’s like, Chinese versus Thai takeout for dinner, or what movie to watch, or who screwed up and put the red socks into the washing machine with the white towels. I’m talking about the moment when you realize that a trusted friend or loved one has a different view than you do about, say, women’s rights. Abortion. Race. Gender. The separation of church and state. Current events. Gay rights. God and spirituality.
That moment when you find yourself defending your beliefs with hotter and hotter frequency? That flush coming to your cheeks, the words flowing out of you, the hairs on your arm beginning to prickle, even as you look at the face of a person that you simultaneously love and feel anger towards, thinking: How could this person believe something so very different from what I believe?
Or even: This person thinks that I’m dumb because of my beliefs.
Or even: Maybe this person is dumb after all.
And think back to the last time you had that argument, and ask yourself: Was I attempting to engage in a nuanced discussion of complicated issues with someone whose thoughts and opinions are equally as valid as my own?
I bring this all up because I have yet to figure out who I’m casting my vote for in the Democratic Primary in the United States, and even just coming out as saying “Undecided” feels tantamount to shame.
I’ve steered clear of discussing this with many of my politically engaged friends. It’s unusual: I love engaging in debate and discussion. I’m the girl in the corner at the party arguing about gender parity and complaining that the music is too damn loud. But I’ve steered clear of all of this Bernie/Hillary conversation, and it’s in large part because there are a lot of people in my life who are very fiercely determined to convince me that their candidate is the best for the job of President of the United States.
It’s not that I don’t believe them. I do. I believe that their reasons for supporting their candidate are equally as valid as any of my other friends’ reasons for supporting their chosen candidate.
That is to say, here’s where trying to be a politically engaged, curious voter has led me:
Hillary Clinton doesn’t pay her female staff equal pay for equal work.
Hillary Clinton paid her male and female staffers equal pay for equal work.
It’s not sexist to call Hillary Clinton “shrill.”
It’s incredibly sexist to call Hillary Clinton “shrill.”
Hillary Clinton works very hard to avoid being called “shrill.”
Young feminists love Hillary Clinton.
Young feminists hate Hillary Clinton.
Young feminists who hate Hillary Clinton might be sexist.
Hillary Clinton isn’t feminist enough.
Hillary Clinton is allowing older feminists to shame younger feminists into voting for her.
Hillary Clinton gave speeches to Wall Street and took huge paychecks in speaking fees.
Hillary Clinton gets progressive cred for taking money in fees from Corporate America.
Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee is high, but only compared with other women.
Hillary Clinton is a felon.
Hillary Clinton is a grandma.
Hillary Clinton is an offensive grandma.
Hillary Clinton kills babies and believes in child abuse.
Hillary Clinton is a pathological liar.
Hillary Clinton is trustworthy.
Hillary Clinton has great hair.
Hillary Clinton wears a wig.
Hillary Clinton softened her style to win votes.
Hillary Clinton is blind to her own greed.
Half of Hillary Clinton’s charitable giving is to her own foundation.
Hillary Clinton’s foundation is helping rebuild war-torn Rwanda.
Hillary Clinton killed a man.
Hillary Clinton killed Osama Bin Laden.
Hillary Clinton hates China.
It’s complicated with Hillary Clinton and China.
Hillary Clinton is a racist.
Hillary Clinton wants to address systemic racism in our country’s justice system.
When giving a speech about racism in a black church, Hillary Clinton is racist.
Hillary Clinton does not smoke weed, but there are still some hazy questions.
Hillary Clinton is an alcoholic.
Hillary Clinton invented wine-flavored ice cream.
Hillary Clinton did not beat John McCain in a drinking competition.
Hillary Clinton is boring.
Hillary Clinton is pretending to be boring as a tactic.
Hillary Clinton can dirty-dance in time with the music.
Hillary Clinton’s two-step is awkward.
Hillary Clinton’s gun control plan is good.
Hillary Clinton’s gun control plan is bad.
Hillary Clinton is an icon in the gay community.
Hillary Clinton is no gay icon.
Hillary Clinton abuses her husband.
Hillary Clinton saved her husband.
Hillary Clinton believes in her husband.
Hillary Clinton reacted privately and angrily to Bill’s affair.
Hillary Clinton bullies women.
Hillary Clinton is the worst.
Hillary Clinton is the best.
Lady Gaga is Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders was better than Hillary Clinton on “Saturday Night Live.”
Bernie Sanders will not attack Hillary.
Bernie Sanders is attacking Hillary anyway.
Bernie Sanders is a political outsider.
Bernie Sanders has been a politician for a very long time.
Bernie Sanders has a problem with Democrats.
Bernie Sanders danced to ‘Hotline Bling.’
Bernie Sanders is favored by millennials.
Bernie Sanders is old AF.
Bernie Sanders is a grumpy grandpa.
Bernie Sanders is your cool socialist grandpa.
Bernie Sanders is your cranky uncle.
Bernie Sanders is trolling Hillary on Twitter.
Bernie Sanders is loud AF.
Bernie Sanders is a fascist.
Bernie Sanders is a racist.
Bernie Sanders on Immigration: It’s complicated.
Bernie Sanders and Israel: It’s complicated.
Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama: It’s complicated.
Bernie Sanders and gun control: It’s complicated.
Bernie Sanders and the middle east: It’s complicated.
Bernie Sanders and unions: It’s complicated.
Bernie Sanders is straightforward and uncomplicated.
Bernie Sanders is a socialist pickpocket.
Bernie Sanders’ economic policies would destroy America.
Under Bernie Sanders, income and jobs would soar.
Bernie Sanders will save America 5 trillion dollars.
Bernie Sanders’ plan will cost $18 trillion and is virtually impossible.
No, Bernie Sanders’ plan will not bankrupt the US to the tune of $18 trillion.
Bernie Sanders can’t save America.
Bernie Sanders can save America.
Bernie Sanders’ wife is his closest advisor.
Bernie Sanders’ wife is invisible.
Bernie Sanders and his wife misappropriated funds.
Bernie Sanders has no interest in a political revolution.
Bernie Sanders is serious about a political revolution.
No, Bernie Sanders is seriously serious about a political revolution.
Bernie Sanders is a nice guy who learned how to play the political game.
Bernie Sanders: No More Mr. Nice Guy.
Bernie Sanders will win the Democratic nomination in a landslide.
Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States.
Bernie Sanders is not a vegan.
This just in: Clinton goes for chicken and milkshakes.
That’s just a sampling of the Democrats. Let’s not even get started on the Republicans.
The internet is the most amazing, beautiful, wondrous thing that has ever happened to humanity, and I’m fucking exhausted from it. Not only is there more than any one human could ever possibly hope to analyze, it’s all contradictory. My way of processing this information HAS to include selecting the articles that most closely reflect my own perceptions, biases, and ideas. Which is no way to have an informed, nuanced, or open-minded debate at all.
Hillary is probably not an evil felon grandma corporate socialist alcoholic, and Bernie is probably not an abusive revolutionary racist delusional grandpa. Great. That’s where I’ve landed on that, and I’m done now. I can’t do it any more.
I want the country to prosper economically. I want to preserve rights for women. I want systemic racism to be addressed. I want our foreign policies to create a more peaceful world. I want to lift people out of poverty. I want healthcare. I want to make a living wage. I want control of my reproductive rights. I want to attend like ten thousand gay weddings. I know some of those things are different from what many people want, and I’m okay with that, but I believe pretty firmly in all of those things, and I’m going to cast my vote accordingly. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, unlike the Republican candidates that the GOP has put forth, are mostly going to do those things for me.
But I want to make this clear, to everyone reading this right now: I don’t think you are stupid. I don’t think you’re stupid if you’re a Republican. I don’t think you’re stupid if you’re a Democrat. I don’t think you’re stupid if your beliefs are different from my beliefs. I don’t think you’re stupid if you support Bernie. I don’t think you’re stupid if you support Hillary. I don’t think you’re stupid if you’re confused or turned off or need a break from this continual and aggressive onslaught of information. I don’t think you’re stupid if you are interested in telling me in an informed, considered manner why you believe what you believe.
If we’ve forgotten that other people’s ideas and experiences are as valid as our own, we’re in big trouble. I don’t think you’re stupid, and I hope you don’t think that I’m stupid. I hope that we just want to listen to one another, and I hope that we can make time and space in our lives and our friendships to do that. And I think that’s the only way that we can possibly hope for our relationships to survive until November.
I don’t think you’re stupid for having an opinion.
I might think you’re stupid if we haven’t spoken since middle school and you’re still inviting me to play Candy Crush, but other than that, we’re cool.
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