Last Saturday I tried something new. My sister and I went door-to-door, clutching our clipboards, approaching our unsuspecting neighbors about the 2018 Senatorial campaign. (It was sort of scary.) At one door we met a lovely woman who had emigrated from Bosnia. Unlike most of the people we met, who didn't want to talk politics with us, she seemed desperate for change. She told us that she'd come to this country for freedom, but what she found "wasn't freedom."
She also said, "I usually don't like to talk about politics."
And that line has been running through my head ever since.
I definitely avoid talking about politics at work.
Most of my friends don't want to discuss politics.
Annie and I have discussed the perils inherent in going political on this blog.
But what I think we all really mean is, "We don't want to fight."
What I wish, more than anything, is that we could talk about the political currents that are tugging (fiercely) at the undercurrent of our lives and seek for understanding and compromise. I still believe that's possible. I still believe that we can be smart, and kind, and passionate and COMpassionate.
In order to have these civil discourses and in order to understand the multiple points of view that comprise our political landscape, I think first and foremost, we have to pay attention. We need to have a decent grasp of the issues. We need to understand what's happening in Washington. We need to follow how our representatives are voting.
Thanks to ye olde Internet, staying informed is easy (and super interesting). Here are a few places to get started (chime in if you have something to add):
- Twitter - I know that a lot of folks my age don't use Twitter. I use it almost exclusively as a news feed, and boy howdy does it get me up-to-date in a hurry. Follow reputable news sources, political figures, activists, historical scholars and people you think speak well on the issues. With a 5-10 minute scan every morning, I know what issues are on the forefront.
- Subscribe to some online newspapers. I enjoy the daily briefing they offer via email. Again, this is a quick snapshot of what is going on. Plus, I'm in the know on lots of cool cultural and human interest stories. I'm a sucker for human interest stories.
- Countable -- This app notifies you when your representatives vote. It does a great job of explaining the bill at hand AND why someone might vote for or against the measure. (I have to admit this one is not super fun for me because my reps NEVER vote the way I want them to.)
- Talk to activists in your area. I wasn't surprised when folks didn't want to talk to me while I was out canvassing. But I do think they missed out on an easy way to get some good information. I was ready to tell them what my guy stood for -- no ugly talk, no judgment. It's always a good idea to see what the other side is up to. They can have good ideas too!