“Whoever Wins, Chill A Bit”

Whoever Wins, Chill A Bit. 

Best election advice ever.  This paragraph is particularly important:

I’m not an Obama fan, particularly, but a lot of people I like and respect are. To treat Obama as something evil or subhuman would not only be disrespectful toward Obama, but toward them. Instead, I hope that if Obama is elected, their assessment of his strengths will turn out to be right, and mine will turn out to be wrong. Likewise, those who don’t like John McCain or Sarah Palin might reflect that by treating Palin and McCain as obviously evil and stupid, they’re disrespecting tens of millions of their fellow Americans who feel otherwise.

 That’s truth right there.  One reason I (mostly) stay away from political posts is the disrespect – the assumption that those who disagree are total dupes or willingly participating in evil.

For example, the assumption that if I like Palin, I must be deceived or as evil as she is. I can live with disagreement about whether she’s qualified or has the right opinions, but the venom that has come from some indicates they despise anyone who would dare think she might be kinda okay.

Frankly, I’ve come to be rather disappointed with several suppossedly smart and sophisticated bloggers at Times & Seasons and elsewhere.  However, this seems to be the nature of elections.  We all apparently turn into bitter partisan hacks around this time, surrending our critical capacities to partisan pundits, lying to ourselves that we think freely and have independtly come to rational conclusions.

Hopefully, once it’s over we can all regain a measure of sanity.  So, to repeat:  Whoever Wins, Chill a Bit.

[UPDATE:  based on a comment below, and some reflection brought on by it – have removed an offhand comment I made and moved it to the sidebar instead].

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About Ivan W.

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was just shy of 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has five kids and four stepkids.

20 thoughts on ““Whoever Wins, Chill A Bit”

  1. Ivan, this is good advice. I really do think the country will be changed in horribly negative ways if Obama is elected, but I also recognize that a lot of smart people disagree and I hope I am wrong. It is really an extraordinary thing that people (including myself) get so worked up over politics, but the interesting thing is that it has always been this way. Reading some of the mud that was thrown around in the early days of the republic can give you some perspective — they hated each other and in one case resolved their differences with a duel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burr-Hamilton_duel

    So, I guess a few insults thrown around this time a year are a lot better than duels.

    But I will say this: I have strong beliefs, but I never feel good about the contention I see around me regarding politics, so I can definitely understand your mostly staying away from political posts. Staying engaged and involved (which the Church encourages) and staying calm and non-contentious (which Jesus encourages) are two difficult things to manage at the same time.

  2. Well, I try to stay engaged in some ways (I donate money to campaigns, talk about politics one-on-one with those who really are undecided, etc.) But online discussions often get way too personal for my taste – some people who are otherwise decent commetators elsewhere become little better than trolls.
    [Though, Geoff, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you act like a troll – though perhaps I wasn’t looking in the right places ;-).]

  3. Just a warning to trolls:

    I will delete off topic comments or comments that only attack or degrade.

    Disagreement is welcome. Trolling is not.

  4. I appreciate the tone of your post, and you are absolutely correct: we are all in this together. However, your post unfortunately demonstrates just how difficult it is to talk about politics with people on the other side of the fence. You note that Sara Palin has been “totally cleared,” yet the article you link to accurately indicates that while she has indeed been cleared by the state personnel board, the state legislature did find that she violated state ethics laws. This is not total exoneration, and your implication that those of us who are troubled by her handeling of the Wooten affair are demonizing her without cause is just the kind of slur you warn against in your post.

  5. I mostly like spirited partisanship in its season. For example, at Dave’s Mormon Inquiry, October has been hyper-pro-McCain month. Three months ago, Dave was writing about other stuff, and I couldn’t have guessed who he supported in the election. Also, politicians should be critcized regularly, and mostly deserve it. Even when they don’t deserve it a particular instance, they still need it to keep them a fraction under control. Don’t fall into Stockholm Syndrome feeling sorry for them. On the other hand, deranged rants are tedious for all of us.

  6. Emma –

    The Palin ethics charges is a tangential issue, but really, even the separate investigation by the Legislature [that] found that Palin had abused her office said her actions were within her powers as a Governor.

    However, I have no problems if you are concerned with her actions. I’ve never claimed she was above reproach, and we can agree to disagree. I said nothing about whether those who are concerned are actually demonizing her.

    Really – just chill. You took that off-hand comment too personally

  7. John M. –

    I agree with the latter part of your comment. Mostly, I’m sick of the deranged rants. Politicians should be criticized, and I am not making the case that we should never critique a politician. No Stockholm syndrome here. Criticize away. (If anything, I think too many people are unwilling to criticize their own side, while holding the other side to standards impossible to meet).

    But over at DMI, I was rather disgusted by most of the commentators. For example, Dave asked people to say one nice thing about Bush – and some of them could only say that they hoped Bush would rot in hell. At that point, I just stopped reading. When partisanship gets so nasty you can’t say anything nice about your opposition, and you’ve so demonized them that you are sure they belong in hell – well, you’re too far gone to be worth talking to.

  8. Regardless of the outcome, once the winner has been decided, I hope that we would all pray for him that he will be inspired to make the right decisions.

  9. THANK YOU for a civil and reasonable discussion about politics! It’s like a breath of fresh air.

    Me? I’m chillin’ :-)

  10. Thank you for the great post Ivan. Though I know I’ve slipped into anger occasionally, I truly know I can support McCain and pray for him to do his best even though he’s not my candidate. I don’t expect he’ll win, but if he does I don’t want him to fail, I want him to make this country even better than it is now.

    This will all be over in a few hours, and what’s the best way to handle it? If Obama wins should all Republicans give him a chance to make some improvements in the country, or for the next for years should they be screaming about how he’s a Muslim terrorist that will destroy us all?

    I’m just happy that I’ve been able to have political discussions with my family and friends without them calling me a baby killer and me calling them warmongers.

  11. I had a great discussion with Tim J on Mormon Mentality about who we were voting for. Although we disagreed, we were able to do so in a friendly, rational way. It was one of my favorite blogging experiences and I have immense respect for Tim J now.

    As for the DMI discussion, the negative comments bugged me too. But I went ahead and added my positive comments about Bush anyway.

  12. Emma –

    if you look at the update above, I took your comment to heart and decided to remove my offhand comment about Palin and the ethics charges. It distracted from my main point anyway, and I can see how some might take it the wrong way.

  13. “I had a great discussion with Tim J on Mormon Mentality about who we were voting for. Although we disagreed, we were able to do so in a friendly, rational way. It was one of my favorite blogging experiences and I have immense respect for Tim J now.”

    Just for the record, I totally won that debate.

    :)

  14. I posted something along the lines of this on my LiveJournal. The heart of it was inviting people to join me in taking and circulating this pledge:

    I promise, whatever the outcome of the upcoming election, that I will neither whine nor gloat about that outcome. I will respect the voice of the people as expressed through that election and will wish nothing but good for those chosen to lead this country, whether I agree with their policy positions or not, and whether I voted for or against them. I do this not because I am giving up my political principles, but because I believe that unity under imperfect leaders chosen by an imperfect system is better than schism and division on ideologically pure lines.

    Feel free to join in.

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