Picture this scenario: You’re at a party. It’s late. A small group of party-goers is tucked into a corner somewhere, enjoying adult beverages. This group is laughing, clapping each other on the back, having an all-around great time. They’re talking politics. Not arguing, not criticizing various candidates, but expressing what they really admire about their own chosen candidates. Not everyone in the group favors the same politician, but everyone is genuinely interested to hear what the other individuals in the group have to say.
Find it hard to imagine this scenario? Of course you do, because this isn’t the way people talk about politics. Most people aren’t “for” a certain candidate as much as they are “against” another one. Fistfights don’t break out because you’re standing on the table, loudly praising the policies of Candidate A. Trouble arises because your adrenaline is pounding, your eyes a little crazy as you slam the character of Candidate B–and not in your “inside voice.” Candidate B isn’t just a lousy politician, he/she is a bad person! A handful of drinks in, you think it’s important that everyone–especially the supporters of Candidate B–see this simple, self-evident truth.
Imagine if people discussed music this way. We meet at a party and I lecture you on how hip-hop isn’t “real” music, while you keep talking over me to point out how rock n’ roll has ruined traditional family values. Who wants that conversation? When you talk music with someone, you’re likely to search for common ground. If you’re rap and I’m rock, maybe we both agree how awesome it was when Run DMC collaborated with Aerosmith for the remake of “Walk This Way.” You’re trying to connect with someone, not prove to them that you know better.
Whoever wins the upcoming presidential election, here’s what I know for sure: That person is way more likely than I am to fill in that pothole down the street. That person is, first and foremost–for reasons noble or otherwise–willing to take on arguably the most stressful gig on the planet, guaranteed to earn them death threats and angry YouTube rants from all around the globe. Point being, no matter how you slice it, Candidate A and Candidate B have a lot in common. It’s a very small club, that minuscule percentage of the U.S. population that ever even considers running for President.
Here’s my challenge. I’d love to hear your feedback on this current election–but let me suggest one ground rule. I ask that you share, not your criticisms and dislike for the “other” candidates, but those things you most admire about your preferred candidate.
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background byclicking here.