I was brought up in a household in which my father was a Democrat and my mother, a Republican. Their four children? Three Republicans and one Democrat. What about you? With which two major American political parties do you most align?
Do you know what your party endorses? If your response is “Lower taxes,” I would ask, “Lower taxes for whom?” If your response is “A smaller, leaner government,” I would ask, “What needs to be cut and what are your criteria for making a judgment?” What about states’ rights, individual rights, federal laws? Splits within the parties tell me that you might be as baffled as I am: Tea Party, Christian Right, Social Democrats, Lincoln Project, Trump supporters, Right Wing Pro-Nationalists, etc.
I acknowledge that few things are simple, that to be a Republican or Democrat does not mean that one fits nicely into a box. As the mid-term elections of 2022 are coming sooner than we’d like, I believe Republicans and Democrats need to spend quality time in defining what they are, what they stand for, and what they stand against. We have a right to know, and they have a responsibility to define/redefine themselves in changing times.
We know that we’ve seen behavior recently in Washington, D.C., that many of us find repugnant: violence, lies, threats, an absence of logic. Some of you might say that we’ve always had this, and I concede that you are right, but I keep hoping.
Where do you stand from A to Z? And where do those you support stand? Think about discussing the following issues with your friends with the understanding that you will be friends afterwards. Know that I have overlooked some issues that inform political ideologies, so feel free to add to my simple list:
A: abortion; B: Black Lives Matter; C: community colleges and free tuition; D: deficit spending; E: Equal Rights Amendment; F: farmers’ subsidies; G: gun rights/control; H: hunger in America; I: immigration; J: jury selection/Supreme Court justices; K: KKK and other white supremacists groups; L: legalized death with dignity; M: marijuana; N: national health insurance; O: open borders; P: prison reform; Q: Qanon; R: restitution for victims of crimes and other social injustices; S: social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube; T: tax breaks for corporations, upper class, middle class, lower class; U: uniform laws on capital punishment; V: voting rights, voter suppression, voter fraud; W: wall between the U.S. and Mexico; X: xenophobia; Z: Zionism.
Are you even more confused following this little exercise? Have you asked yourself what factors were involved in your making a decision and what factors weighed most heavily on that decision? Was it your parents or other relatives, your friends, your life experiences, your education, your observations, your religion? Do you need to study the issues, read about them, consider the pros and cons?
Know that students in my communication classes at the college where I teach often tell me that they intend to present a persuasive argument from a particular position. Many, once they do their research, discover really significant points to support their positions while others realize that the positions they had initially held are weak, cannot be logically supported.
Have you determined that you will make your positions known to those running for office when the time comes to cast your ballot? Will you contact the head of your party in your county to express your opinions now? Will you organize a group and invite those already in office or those running for office to address the group? Will you determine that you want to run for office, learn the necessary steps to get your name on the ballot, and follow them closely?
We need informed, honest people running for office, and if you’re not informed, you can become so, and there are many to coach you in local, state, and national laws and issues as well as in communication skills.
Remember, Abraham Lincoln was self-taught, and look at the positive impact he had — and continues to have — on our nation.
Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., teaches telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and works with veterans. You may reach her at 937-778-3815 or [email protected]