I’m afraid that the political conversations I’ve had lately have cost me some friends, but if you can’t sit down and have a good, heated, political discussion and then let it all roll off and still be friends, then what’s it worth anyway?
The last two elections have been undeniably close. That just means one thing: America is divided. Half of us vote one way. Half of us vote the other. Does that mean we can’t talk about it?
When I was living in France, I noticed how amazingly political conversation tends to be. The French talk about politics all year long the way we talk about it five weeks before an election. They gather in the evening for dinner, drinks, and conversation. The conversation usually turns political. Then they turn up the heat. They argue points for argument’s sake. Anyone in France can argue both sides of any debate. Political discussion is mostly an art form really. At some point, someone strikes a chord. Voices finally are raised. But, whatever.
They open another bottle of wine. They pass the cheese, and then some rich ice cream served with sweet crackers. Who cares? They’re still friends. How come the French can do this and we can’t? I don’t understand.
I am still going to love you even if you’re an idiot when it comes to politics
Having had this politically tenderizing experience in France at a tender age, I rather like the idea of kind-hearted political discussion. That doesn’t mean that I’m not opinionated. Au contraire. It just means that after we duke it out in the ring of political repartee, I’m still going to love you for everything else that makes you you aside from your political bias.
So then I get this email the other night that prompts me to read an article on the TIME / CNN website by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. (www.time.com Oct. 9, 2008). In it, Gilbert exclaims, “I’ve become obsessed with my father’s vote, losing sleep over it, worrying about it so much that you’d swear this entire election hinged on one man’s choice.” Dude. Elizabeth. Maybe Italy, India, and Indonesia were what you needed then, but now you need France. I haven’t lived in France in over 10 years, but I’d bet that nothing’s changed and that if you spent four months there you’d learn that the political party doesn’t make the man. I’m voting for the man that most of my friends are voting against this year. I don’t care. I just have to be sure and cast my vote, that’s all. In Italy, they’re happy. In India, they’re ascending. In Indonesia, they’re blissful. In France, they’re philosophical. Probably none of them are losing sleep my dear.
May we Americans aspire to heated political discussion that ends in a slap on the back, two kisses, and a see-ya.