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I'm trying to escape politics, but this article is so good:

Agreeing to Disagree
Before the country can find common ground, those with differing political views must be willing to listen to each other

By Melinda Henneberger

Nov. 4 - John Kerry has conceded; now it’s time for the rest of us to do the same.

I’m not talking about giving up on anything, or even about "rallying around the president," which remains optional in a democracy. But couldn’t we all, Republican and Democrat, admit that it’s been awhile since any of us really listened to someone with whom we disagree politically?

Mutual pig-headedness may not be quite the common ground that the president had in mind when he spoke of a “season of hope’’ yesterday. But you know, it’s where we are at the moment. And if we stay there, we will never move forward together.

(My husband, reading this over my shoulder, is mocking me with an off-key rendition of the Chet Powers's song: "C'mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together …") But the fact remains that many of us—people who wouldn’t dream of judging somebody on the basis of race, color or sexual orientation—are not at all subtle about not caring to hear from anyone who thinks the least bit differently. A woman at my son’s school recently asked me to coffee, but then added, “As long as you’re not voting for Bush. You’re not, are you?’’

Give-and-take across party lines has become as rare in everyday life as it is on Capitol Hill. So maybe it’s time for those of us who are really devastated right now to ask why a whopping 80 percent of those who voted for Bush cited “moral values’’ as the reason. We can’t all be morally superior, can we? And where’s that intellectual curiosity we give ourselves so much credit for?

(Of course, it’s also possible that the moment President George W. Bush really sealed the deal with voters was when he couldn’t or wouldn’t name a single mistake he had made in office; in his stubborn certainty, he seems perfectly in step with his fellow Americans.)

A few days before the election, my husband and I had dinner with another couple whose views on the state of play I had been looking forward to hearing. I knew that the woman, one of the most interesting thinkers I know, had been considering voting for Bush and I was eager to hear what she had decided and why. But throughout the evening, she fell silent whenever we touched on politics. Later, I worried that I might have offended her in expressing my own views, and followed up with an apologetic e-mail.

But she answered that no, she had simply kept mum because she had long since concluded that “among our friends’’ her views were too way-out to mention. “I am NOT a Republican,’’ she wrote, as if that really might have been a bridge too far. “But John Kerry has me too worried that he thinks summits with people who hate us will solve our problems. Among our friends, this point of view puts me somewhere between pederast and mass murderer.’’ So her husband—a great guy, I might add, and not some loutish wife-husher—“has asked me to shut up about politics, so I do (except with him, poor guy.) He says that yes, it’s noticeable that I fall silent during political discussions, but, as he adds, `That’s better than hearing your point of view.’ The few times I’ve said I was thinking of voting for Bush … people were flat out shocked. Just shocked that they could know someone who seems normal, whose kid has played with their kid, who has a different point of view.’’

She mentioned that another friend had just called her, unnerved by a scandalous report that someone else they knew was rumored to be supporting the president: “You don’t think it’s true, do you?’’ And that at drop-off time at the warm and wonderful Washington preschool where we had both sent our kids, a little boy had been overheard telling his mom that he was planning to vote for Bush in their mock election: “I bote for Bush. I bote for Bush.’’ His mother went to pieces: “No, you can’t. Bush is a BAD MAN. You can’t vote for him.’’ And the kid is 3 years old.

What pains me most, though, is to admit that I must be no better. Because when I returned home from Kerry’s election-eve campaign appearance in Cleveland, where Bruce Springsteen sang, “No retreat, baby, no surrender …,’’ I found my living room covered with homemade campaign signs. My 8-year-old daughter, who loves all God’s creatures and spent last summer doing cicada rescue ops, had made one that said BEWARE THE WAR-STARTING, NERVE-RACKING BUSH. Uh-oh, another teaching moment—and not only for her.

I told my friend, the secret Bush supporter, never to censor herself with me. As a pro-life progressive, I am out-of-step with pretty much everybody.

But I do find it ironic that we who consider ourselves so open and tolerant are not really so unlike our caricature of closed-minded evangelicals. And as long as we listen only to those who confirm us in our right thinking, we won’t have learned anything.


Memo to the idiologues

Dear fellow Americans:

Your candidate either won/lost yesterday. It does not mean that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned tomorrow, much to your fear or dismay. It does not mean that the USA will turn immediately into a country of religious zealots, just like it would not immediately turn into a progressive socialist state with a Kerry win.

I am so pleased to hear of record voter turnout, but yet, I'm incredibly disheartened by the polarization of our nation. Call me delusional when I say I believe that most people are good at heart (that includes both Kerry AND Bush), and while I disagree with the fundamentals of both candidates, feel confident that either one would govern only to do their best for America.

We are blessed to live in such a wonderful place where have a choice. This is not 2000, where Bush failed to win the popular vote. The "he didn't really win the election" argument can stop now. In this race, like it or not, 51% of the country thought Bush was the better candidate. That's more than thought so for Kerry. If you want to think that the vote was rigged, or that Bush's first act of power will be to declare himself dictator in a Saddam-like fashion, that's certainly your right. But our electoral system has worked for over 200 years, and we must rely on our love of our country to trust that it will continue to work in the future.

If you're disheartened, don't wait until 2008 to do something about it. Vote with your dollar and your time in the next 4 years in order to promote change. Or move to Canada.

If you're elated, be so with caution. Remember the way you felt after Bob Dole's defeat in 1996. Gloating sucks.

We as humans tend to surround ourselves with those exactly like us - so it's easy to get into the mentality of "How could he win? Everyone I know voted for Kerry" or "Everyone I know voted for Bush - why wasn't the margin of victory larger?" While we are all Americans, we are all from different walks of life and therefore have different perspectives. We don't have to agree or disagree, but we must try our best to give both sides respect.

I pray it doesn't take another September 11th for us all to begin seeing each other as simply "Americans."


so here's all that's been running in my head in the past few days:

  • I've gotten super-duper excited about Christmas. Like, I walk into stores in the mall and enjoy hearing overly commercialized music, and thinking about gifts, and holiday dishware, and all that stuff. Maybe it's because I have a house I can now fill with crap. Anyhow, it gives me happy thoughts for the next couple of months.
  • I REALLY, REALLY seriously want to redesign this whole blog thing, so it's more usable. I dig Blogger but I have to find a way to design and/or tweak a template so it does more of what I want it to do. It's too much of a pain to go in and type html every time I want to have a little list of stuff I'm reading, etc.
  • tomorrow is election day. The last election day was rather, um, interesting. i ended up meeting a guy I'd hook up with a few months later, I talked to an old love for what would be one of the last times, and let's not even get into the whole dimpled Chads and whatnot. This one looks even more exciting...although I keep getting paranoid that there's gonna be a huge terrorist attack to detract everyone's attention.
  • I really, really, really miss hockey.