Thursday, March 17, 2016

Seeing the Person for the Politics

In doing all this research for real estate agent blog posts, I started noticing a trend. No matter where I focused my attention one of the top things people look for is a neighborhood full of nice people.

That’s it. Plain and simple. People don’t want to be surrounded by assholes. Shocker, I know, but it really got me thinking about what’s truly important about our neighborhoods.

Also, what makes someone “nice” as opposed to not nice?

That was a biggie for me to consider. Especially in these months leading up to a presidential election.

I mean, are you a dick because you share a differing political view and put a sign in front of your home for a candidate I don’t support? Because you want solar panels on your roof that I’ll have a view of from my back yard? Because you let your dog sit outside in the backyard and bark all day long at everything? (Okay to be clear, yes, that last one makes you an awful person, take better care of your animals for goodness sake.)

The world is made up of lots of different kinds of people and it feels sometimes like we’re more divided now than we ever were before. But why is that?

Is it because of niceness or of perceived niceness?

I have no idea what political party my neighbors are affiliated with because they don’t have signs out front. But let’s just say they were backing a candidate I loathed and displayed as much with signs and banners, that wouldn’t make me any less likely to wave and smile as I passed their house. Because that’s the literal depth of our relationship. And I like that, it’s nice.

If I started yammering in their face about why their candidate sucks so bad or why they should choose someone else, well, that would make me the dick. Frankly, I don’t know those people well enough to become an opinionated asshole trying to change their already made up mind.

I don’t hang out with my neighbors, never have and probably never will. I don’t know how they treat their spouses, children, pets (except that freaking dog, seriously), friends, family. I do know they always smile and wave. So I do the same.

Because of politics, could I change my mind about their niceness? In short, sort of, but not on purpose. If everyone in my ‘hood put signs in front of their house wouldn’t we know exactly who they are just because of some rectangular piece of cardboard displaying the name of another person?

I’ve been conditioned to believe certain things about each candidate and in turn apply all of those convenient labels to the people supporting said candidate, right? I mean, haven’t we all?

In this particular presidential election I think that’s the essential driving force behind every candidate. Yes, every candidate.

If you support Clinton you support a liar, hence you must be a liar.

If you support Kasich you clearly don’t support equal rights for women. Women hater.

Bernie? Idealistic socialist.

Cruz? Conservative Christian.

Trump? Racist, sexist, misogynist with no political experience or soul.

Because each of these messages is the thing the news media wants us to believe about each candidate. Nobody cares whether the facts are 100% true or not. All we care about is that we support X, Y, or Z and the other ones are all idiots. All wrong.

But that’s exactly the opposite of how we should look at this thing.

I know someone who supports Kasich, we had a conversation about it last weekend. This person is someone I consider to be one of the nicest people I know. Fun, loyal, supportive.

All I said in response was:

“There’s no way I could vote for that guy, I have a vagina.”

Because, in response to the politics, the things he does or doesn’t support as a matter of policy, I can firmly state that he would never be my candidate of choice.

Again, I have no clue if Kasich is a nice man or not. We don't jam on Friday nights. But I’m not about to judge someone I already know to be nice as not nice just because they support the guy and I don't.

That’s the kind of shit that got us into this name-calling firestorm to begin with.

The other night we were watching the NatGeo series Generation X and I was taken back to my youth. To a time before I even knew what politics were. Before I knew that the president could never be the sole decision maker for our country.

I have no clue how little nuggets get trapped in the brain, things we remember forever even if we rarely access the memory. Things like how to make pasta sauce, shortcuts in our hometowns after not driving those roads for decades.

Or maybe even the chorus of a super cheezy afterschool-special-esque stage show that I saw maybe once about 30 years ago (or more).

Before I knew what hit me I was singing the entire chorus to Matt, word-for-word, straight from memory. The show?

Up with People.

Did you ever see it? Did the troupe make the rounds to your school back in the late ‘80’s, early ‘90’s? They made it to Arlington and I loved it. The cast looked like extras who all jumped out of the cafeteria on Saved by the Bell with their brightly colored clothing and khaki pants.

Or maybe they were the backup dancers for The Jets.

Either way their message was all about being positive, being nice to each other. As a kid who was bullied for a lot of my youth it was super inspiring to hear adults singing their little hearts out about being kind, caring towards each other.

I felt like, maybe, once I got out of school I’d find where all those nice people were and we’d start our own little think tank of love and positivity.

Throw a fist into the air in stop-motion while smiling! Let’s dance! Woo!

All I’m saying is, sometimes, I like being idealistic. It allows me to go back to that time in my youth where I could assume everyone was nice unless they acted like a dick to me on a personal level.

But it had nothing to do with politics or party affiliation, what neighborhood you lived in or the color of your scrunchie. It had to do with being open hearted, accepting of differences, and understanding that while those differences may not be your personal choice, they were their choice and the right to choose is the very thing that should bring us together, not push us apart.

Maybe all of the candidates and their supporters need to be reminded of that moment in their youth when they believed that anything was possible.

This one’s for you guys.

“It don’t help nobody up when you put somebody down.”

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.


Launna said...

Jenn, I agree with you... I normally never give my opinion in an election for the very reason you state... no one really cares what I think, they think there own thing. 99 times out of a 100 I say nothing when they are voting the opposite of who I believe should win... What do I know as I really don't know all the ins and outs...

This year, I am bit move vocal than usual due to one candidates own words... still I don't know them personally and hopefully that is not the real way they are in life... we'll see xox

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

The sad thing is that most, if not all, of the candidates will say whatever is convenient to get them more press, more cheers, more of whatever their PR staff thinks they need to win the election. Problem with that, often those words contradict something they've promised in the past. It's all just a big circus. They've put elections on television and made them into a media spectacle like the Super Bowl or something. By June I will stop watching TV entirely so I don't have to see the commercials anymore!