Saturday, November 10, 2012

How about we compromise and all vote Democrat?

I wasn't too worried about the election on Tuesday. Two men were responsible for my complacency: Nate Silver (who reassured me on November 2nd that "If the state polls are right, then Mr. Obama will win the Electoral College. If you can't acknowledge that after a day when Mr. Obama leads 19 out of 20 swing-state polls, then you should abandon the pretense that you goal is to inform rather than entertain the public.") and my Italian ex-boyfriend, l'Artista. 

When I spoke with l'Artista on Hurricane Sandy Day, 8 days before the election, he said, "Of course Obama's going to win! Don't waste your time worrying about it. That would be crazy if he didn't." My eccentric college roommate used to tease me for thinking that l'Artista knows everything, and I guess part of me still trusts him irrationally. I'm glad to say that, in this case, I was right to. 

After listening to This American Life's "Red State/Blue State" episode, which argued that our country is becoming increasingly politically divided and that we don't listen to each other because we are so certain we are correct in our beliefs, I am determined to try to reach out and bridge some of those divides. Only, there's one problem: I am completely, irrevocably convinced that I am right and they are wrong. There may be some arguments they are making that I could at least listen to, but there's just no way I can understand, empathize with, or give any credibility to a party that opposes gay marriage, uses the environment as a punch line, disrespects women, and wishes minorities would stay a small percentage of the U.S. population or at least stop voting. 

It often feels like Red State America is far, far away, and I don't need to worry about it in my day-to-day life. In my state, not a single county went red, and in my school's election -- in which I voted twice -- it was a landslide for Obama. Granted, these are five and six year olds, but they sure were excited about Obama's victory. 

Sometimes those Red Staters are closer than they appear, though. On Wednesday, one of my co-workers mentioned to me in passing that she sympathized with a little girl in her class, a staunch Scott Brown supporter who wrote him in as her choice for President. I thought my smile and quick escape were enough to send the message that I was not on the same page, but apparently not. Later in the day, as she dismantled her election display, she brought me a gift: a photo of Mitt Romney. "So sad!" she said, smiling, as she handed it to me. 

In my effort to reach out to Red State America, I have not ripped up the photo and thrown it in the trash. Instead, it sits upside-down beneath a giant mound of papers while I ponder what the heck to do with it. 

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