Over the past couple of days, I’ve been seeing a lot of supportive I’m With Her posts on my newsfeed.  Mostly, I think, in reaction to the utterly disgusting and frightening comments Trump has made, both at the debates and in his personal life.  It’s been nice to see those posts popping up.

This has been a rough year for some of us who have, indeed, been with her.  For a while there, during the primaries, being a Hillary supporter was practically a mortal sin.  Here in Portland, it would probably require going to confession 😉  I know I mostly remained quiet about it on social media, as I didn’t want to get my head bitten off by Bernie supporters.  I also didn’t want to lose good friendships–not worth it over a crazy election year.  And I know for a fact of other Facebook friends who supported Hillary–they told me so in person–but didn’t post very much about it either.

Now, I can completely understand people disagreeing with Hillary’s policies.  I can even understand people not voting for her in November and will not lecture anyone about that choice.  I do believe in people voting their conscience.  If that means voting for a third party this election, so be it. But during primary season, things went a little farther than that.  Hillary was more than just an opposing candidate.  She was evil.  She was a fascist.  She was Satan.  She would mean a nuclear war and the end of the world.  As opposed to Bernie, whose little bird was a divine sign of approval from God or Mother Earth. No wonder that voting for Hillary made me feel like I should put on my devil horns and mount the seven-headed beast of the Apocalypse before filling out my ballot.

Why am I saying all of this now?  Sure, there’s some small amount of satisfaction in seeing more open support of Hillary lately.  Even more so since I think she will make a much better President than people give her credit for.  But mostly, this is an apology to myself.  There’s no pride in being a coward and keeping silent about what you believe.  Especially when I consider myself a “political blogger” unafraid to “express my opinions” and all this other bullshit.  You’re supposed to do that precisely when it’s difficult and unpopular, not when it’s easy.  Maybe when the next election comes around, I’ll be a little bit braver.  For now, go Hillary!

It seems I need to go over the basics again, as too many out there in Interwebz land still don’t get it–

Just because someone has a different political point of view from you, it doesn’t mean that person is:

Asleep.  This one drives me crazy–it’s the belief that someone “wakes up” only when they come to agree with you.  It’s entirely possible that people who have been very awake all their lives have simply been awake to different ideas and experiences than you have, especially if they come from a different culture.  In fact, our interaction with each other may be a way for both of us to wake up to thoughts we didn’t know about.  Speaking of which, don’t make the assumption that the person who disagrees with you is…

Ignorant/uninformed.  I ingest news and analysis from a wide variety of sources, spanning all sides of the political spectrum–everything from the BBC to conservative talk radio to my pitiful addiction to C-Span.  I have met many well-informed and intelligent individuals who just happen to draw differing conclusions from the information they learn.  The world is a complicated place–none of us see the complete picture.

Mentally ill.  I know, I know–it’s everybody else who’s insane, right?

Less than human.  There is a long list of names used to accomplish this–sheeple, zombies, robots.  The goal is always the same–to dismiss those who disagree with you as not quite human.  Are you really that afraid of people with other opinions, so afraid that you can’t acknowledge they exist?  That speaks to insecurity in your own views, not confidence.

Evil.  True evil is done in our world, and the word should be reserved for those situations, otherwise the very concept is cheapened.  You may think the person who supports government health care is misguided, but they are likely not evil.  On the other hand, when you allow yourself to think of other people in dehumanizing ways (see above), doing evil can become easier.  After all, you’re not imprisoning or killing humans–just rats, zombies, etc….

So those are a couple of pointers to keep in mind as we debate each other.  When you debate, make a logical argument about the issue, which will make your side of the debate stronger anyway.  Name calling will always detract from what you have to say. 

And remember that what you’re thinking of the person you’re debating–that caricature you’ve formed of them in your mind–it isn’t true.