There’s a topic I’ve been wildly avoiding here lately, as my long-time readers might have noticed.
Here’s a hint: It’s politics.
Oh wait, that’s not really a hint, is it.
Last week I had my first good public political skirmish in a while, if you can even call it that. I made a snarky comment on Twitter about Sarah Palin’s high-larious Hanukkah post on Facebook, and how it read like a book report written by her staff with some help from the fine folks at Wikipedia. Which it totally did.
A gentleman took me to task for it…after all, how do I know how much she knows about Jews and Hanukkah and the Macabees and the miracle of the oil! There might be four whole Jews in Alaska who are her best friends! And what’s wrong with all of us coastal lefties anyway, who fight for all women to get a say until we don’t like what they have to say and then we go back to sipping our lattes in our Volvos. Hmph.
And I was like dude…all I said is that it sounded like a book report. Which it totally did.
(Also for the record, I don’t believe that every woman–or every man–is entitled to a mass media soapbox from which to spew. And don’t ever tell me what “we all” think. And the coastal/latte/ Volvo thing is so freaking Dan Quayle era, it’s hard to even comment on that one.)
Now on the political fight scale of 1 to 10, I’d call this particular exchange about a -6. In other words, it’s only going to get worse.
And really, I don’t care about some guy on Twitter who I don’t know.
I do care about all of you. And what an election year will do to us.
To be clear, I have never shied away from revealing my politics on this blog. Allow me to reintroduce myself: I’m a raging, hard-core NYC liberal. I’m a feminist but I still laugh at Axe ads. I come from the rare family that believes politics is one of the best possible dinner party conversations. Throw in religion and now we’ve got a party. I support the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to marry, even if I haven’t yet exercised my own. I’ve got issues with God in schools and in government–and on ice cream trucks. I’m fine with paying taxes, but I’d rather more of it go to firefighters and teachers, and less of it to overpaid contractors who blow up schools in Iraq just to rebuild them. I believe every child is entitled to an awesome public school education and that we have an obligation to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. In 2008 I dedicated my free moments between oh, midnight and 2 AM to creating Obama ads for free.
So. That’s me. Phew.
Then again (wait! Don’t leave!) it’s not all of me.
I could also introduce myself a different way: A woman who loves theme parks and hates tuna fish salad. I work way too much and am constantly grappling with working mom guilt–though I am trying really hard not to use that term any more. I’m pro-Tooth Fairy and pro-Santa Claus but not so keen on the Princess culture. I serve cereal to my kids for dinner more often than I’d like to admit. I adore my entire family to pieces and miss my grandmother terribly. I have now decided I love wishing people happy birthday on Facebook. I am addicted to word games and have an unhealthy obsession with the Real Housewives. I could live on carbs and cheese alone. One of my greatest joys is watching my children put on ballet shoes and dance around the living room just like that lyric from Chorus Line. And I know that lyric because I’m a total musical theater geek.
Do you like one of these people more than the other? I’d imagine so.
(I know, Nate hates musicals too.)
One of the things I’ve learned about moms from blogging is that we are complex. We are multi-faceted, despite what my fellow ad industry flacks might have you believe. And one of the things I love about this community is how we tend to find more in common than not. I wholly believe the mommy wars are mostly a media fabrication, because outrage is good for ratings. At least on the blogs I read, we disagree respectfully whenever possible, and we try not to make it personal.
Now, I’m terrified it will change. Because politics is often very, very personal.
I am terrified that we will all start to draw lines in the sand and divide.
And by divide I mean, it will get ugly.
I hate to think that all the things we’ve bonded over in the last four years, all the similarities we’ve found, will be overshadowed by the differences that crop up in an election year. That one quip about abortion or charter schools or Mitt Romney’s hair or Obama’s birth certificate and we’re though. Finished. We’ll be splitting up the CD collection and negotiating visitation rights before you know it.
Am I crazy to think this?
Maybe we can continue to have thoughtful discussions about politics and not end up hating each other for our differences. Maybe we can all do better to be open to other points of views, provided they’re presented respectfully and aren’t hateful and ugly.
But I do know that sometimes, once you’ve seen someone’s politics, it’s hard to unsee them. (I mean seriously, look at Stephen Baldwin.) So maybe I can work harder at seeing people as the whole people they are and not just as someone who believe in X or Y or that totally misguided Z thing. Except for Stephen Baldwin.
Or maybe, I just kind of want to stick my head in the sand and write about the six-year-old milestones, the UberMoms at school who scare me, and the cereal for dinner. It’s so much safer, isn’t it?
Safer, yes. Authentic, no. And therein lies the dilemma.
I’m not sure how things will play out here this year. What I do know is that my greatest wish for 2012 is that we can get through it with not so much ugly. Congress sure as hell has not been able to unite us. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if a bunch of moms could to do what no one else has been able to.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons/Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library]