Monday, April 13, 2015

This election cycle, I'm promising a politics-free zone on social media. Won't you join me?

I am a Democrat. I'm a liberal Democrat. And chances are very, very good -- ridiculously, amazingly good -- that in the 2016 presidential election, I will vote accordingly.

And from now until November 9, 2016, that's likely the last you'll hear from me about politics.

That's not to say you won't see photos of me at campaign events here and there, and that's not to say I won't post the occasional diatribe about an issue that's important to me.

But I won't be haranguing you about my candidate and why I feel you should vote for that person; I won't be getting down and dirty in long Facebook exchanges with people whose views are different from mine. I won't post sarcastic missives about the other party's candidate, and I won't post jokes that poke fun at that person.

Why all the promises?

Leading up to the 2012 election, I was all about sharing on social media the many reasons I felt my candidate should be elected. I posted facts and figures and memes and anything and everything from Nate Silver; I cajoled and harangued and battled with friends who championed the opposition. I hurt some feelings, and my own feelings were hurt. I was "unfriended" a few times, and I put a lot of time and emotional energy into trying to convince others that my opinion was the correct one.

Don't get me wrong; I still feel my opinion is the correct one. But as I spent time on Facebook last night and saw friends' reactions to Hillary Clinton's announcing her candidacy, I initially wanted to enter the fray. But then I thought: Not this time.

Here's why: because being politically obnoxious on social media yields no return on investment. When I think of my most-diehard-Republican Facebook friends, I wonder: If I lean on them really, really hard about my candidate's wonderful qualities, will I change their minds and affect the way they vote?

And of course the answer is a resounding "no."

So, then, what would my reasoning be for being politically active on Facebook? To show others how astute and aware I am? That's not relevant; my friends would expect that of me, as I'd expect that of them. To try to incite controversy? Nope, I seem to do enough of that in real life.

When others post nasty things about the candidate I support, their posts don't make me think, "Gosh, maybe they're right, and perhaps I should change my party affiliation and vote the way that person wants me to vote."

They make me think, "Wow, that person is kind of obnoxious, and I sure wish he or she would respect the fact that we all have different opinions." 

I like to be politically active. I'll volunteer to help with my candidate's campaign. I'll be the anonymous voice behind the phone call that reminds you to vote, and I'll "like" friends' posts that remind us all to exercise our Constitutional right to do so.I'll talk enthusiastically with others who share my views, but at the office and online, I'll fly under the radar -- not because I'm ashamed or afraid, but because I'm determined to respect others' opinions the way I'd like them to respect mine.

No candidate is perfect. Jesus doesn't love you more -- at least I don't think He does -- for voting for one over the other. No elected official can win over 100 percent of the population and effect total domestic harmony. Life will not be perfect under Rand Paul or Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio or Elizabeth Warren. We have a variety of candidates every election cycle because we have a variety of opinions, and that's as it should be.

If you want to know whom I'm supporting, you can probably guess; if not, ask me. Either way, you won't see it on my Facebook page. You may very well end up blocking me because of my opinions on books or music or dogs or running or cell-phone providers, but it won't be because I'm trashing your candidate.

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