Politics. Not something I’m comfortable with, not something I’ve been particularly interested in, not something I really want to become involved with. But even I have come to realize that posting political memes on Facebook or tweeting my dissatisfaction with the way things currently are isn’t enough.
Staying silent about certain issues I feel strongly about is also something that I’m not comfortable with.
Still, change is hard. I grew up as a pretty quiet kid. I’m an introvert by nature, and would be content to camp in the woods with my dog and let all the chaos, strife, rhetoric, and bad feelings of the current political climate stream past me, like a river splits for a rock in it’s path. But lately the river has become raging, and I’m no longer content to stay safe on my isolated rock.
Months ago when a retired Republican township official knocked on our door and talked about a Democrat who was running against our Republican Representative we were intrigued. A seasoned Republican was spreading the word about a young Democrat. A female Democrat who served in Iraq, volunteering after September 11th, who has worked in the White Houses of both Bush and Obama, a woman who refuses any PAC money and won’t take contributions from large corporations.
And as the rhetoric builds it becomes more and more impossible to stay silent.
So this past weekend I volunteered to canvas, door to door, for Elissa Slotkin who is challenging incumbent Representative Mike Bishop in my district. You see, Representative Bishop hasn’t welcomed me and my issues into his Washington office; he really doesn’t want to hear what I have to say about truck safety. We can’t get a meeting with his staff, and though they usually acknowledge us when we drop information off, nothing ever turns into a serious meeting. Slotkin, on the other hand, has given my husband and me over an hour of her time to learn about truck safety issues.
Perhaps if I had been able to have a similarly thoughtful meeting with Bishop’s staff I wouldn’t have been out stumping for Slotkin now.
I can’t say I enjoyed it. Knocking on strangers’ doors to talk politics is about as far away from what makes me happy as you can get. There wasn’t one moment when I felt comfortable. But there are only forty some days left until the election, and this race will be very tight. The absentee ballots are available and people can start voting now.
If I want change, and I do, then I have to do the hard work required to make it happen.
And, even more scary, I have to risk the friendships of many people who I know are much more conservative than I, people who might be offended to find out I don’t always agree with all conservative policy. But as I heard Willie Nelson express in an interview recently when he was challenged for backing a Democrat by some of his fans – “They have a right to their opinion, and I have a right to mine.”
I know that I can be friends with people who have differing political opinions. I just hope all my friends realize they can too. And I hope that after November 6th we’re all still friends.
No matter which side wins.