Why do you abhor/love political discussions?

Recently for dinner I had homemade chicken enchiladas, a moderately sized bowl of Tillamook vanilla bean ice-cream, and a semi-charged discussion with a good friend about the morality of taxes.

He actively participated yet also averred his disdain for politics, (no question about the enchiladas here; as my father often says, “tortillas are way better than wonder bread”). My wife has also oft been inundated by a blitzkrieg of political discussion by my family and I, I think from the third date on. (That’s how we did things in our family, I guess… you know, first date hug, second date kiss, third date intense political discussion.)

I am intrigued as to why people so abhor political discussion. Maybe it’s me. After all, I did attempt to describe to my aforementioned friend that evening how I am both a socialist and a libertarian… But really though, why doesn’t everyone just love political discussion?

I get excited when discussing politics, but it is not schadenfreude (not trying to sound pseudo-intellectual, just practicing my vocab); I don’t take pleasure in starting agitating discussions (okay, maybe sometimes) but I like it when my views are disputed. I especially enjoy the challenge of remaining calm and disinterested when the other party is noticeably feverish… maybe that is a little sado-narcissitic (made-up word)…

Perhaps some people don’t like their latent negative emotions that come up during political discussion. Maybe they don’t feel competent, and don’t want to feel ignorant. Maybe they don’t care. Some people do care, but may not think debating the (un)controversy of Obama’s Robin Hood tax plan or McCain’s sordid marital history is going to solve anything.

Are you a lover/allergic to political discussions? Why or why not? Also, check out the related poll on the left.


About shenpa warrior

"Patience is not learned in safety." View all posts by shenpa warrior

10 responses to “Why do you abhor/love political discussions?

  • N

    I like the new look:) As political anythings render me pert near speechless, I will be brief in my comment about the post: you have a way with words. As I told you earlier (in person, not via the good old Interwebs), you could be a professional writer!

  • adam

    Awe shucks. You may be a little biased though…

  • Hill Family

    I like to read politial discussion- does that count? Participation in actual conversations is a little too intimidating for me, though. 🙂

  • adam

    Reading it is probably better than discussing it, actually. 🙂 One can learn all kinds of things through observation that cannot be learned through stubborn debate.

  • Cathleen

    I am at a point in my life where I just want to play nice with everyone (or at least most people). I can’t seem to play nice when it comes to Politics though. Almost everyone of my acquaintance has a differing political viewpoint from my own. This includes most of my family, best friends, and fellow church members. In order to have a meaningful discussion, people have to be open to new ideas. I have found that this is not usually the case, and no matter how eloquently and logically I state my case….it is like talking to a brick wall. This causes me to have bad feelings about people that I care about. I don’t like thinking of all my loved ones as complete idiots. So, in my case….it is just best if I don’t even go there. Politics is mostly off limits, except for my children. I have tried to raise them to be very open minded and to challenge everything. My oldest especially takes that to heart and constantly challenges the accepted “norms”. I do enjoy our discussions though because he at least is investigating all sides and trying to form his own informed opinions.
    Is this a chicken approach (avoiding the topic)??? Most definitely, but at my age, I just don’t feel the fight anymore.
    One more note…(probably falls under TMI)…Almost 4 years ago (Oct 2004), just a few weeks before the last Presidential Election, my son Matthew passed away. I had previously been extremely involved and interested in the pending election. I regularly am a current event junkie and love to be in the “political know”. Well when my son died, none of that mattered at all. It all seemed so unimportant. I’m not saying this from a terribly grief stricken point of view either. The whole experience was the most profound spiritual experience I have ever had. The whole outside world and all it’s happenings were so meaningless in the eternal scheme of things. While I have jumped back in and have to have my nose in everything again, it is from a different place now. I will never be the same after that experience, and I just don’t feel like getting too riled up about it anymore (though, sometimes I still do).

  • adam

    Cathleen, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Experiences like yours really put things in perspective.

    Re: “In order to have a meaningful discussion, people have to be open to new ideas… no matter how eloquently and logically I state my case… it is like talking to a brick wall.”

    Part of being open, I think, is listening to another without having an agenda. That is difficult enough in any conversation. In politics, it’s nearly impossible, because we come to the discussion with the intention of changing (or at least making a dent in) the other person’s views. If we could all start from a place of seeking understanding we would accomplish a lot more, I think. Easier said than done though, from personal experience. 😉

    What really frustrates is when people who are very set in their political opinions don’t want to discuss them in depth or be challenged at all. I suppose we all enjoy comfort, and we’ll protect our political sacred cow even on matters like stem cells or school prayer, sometimes to the extent of damaging important relationships, unfortunately.

  • Cathleen

    Adam, you are right about the listening part…I have a lot of room for improvement. I can be a very stubborn soul, still, I do like to understand where people are coming from, why they believe the way they do. My biggest frustrations come from immovable viewpoints based on such reasoning as, “I’m a republican because I was raised that way, I come from a long line of republicans. We are very proud of our heritage”. Is that a valid explanation for a political belief system? How about the hatred of a person because of their party affiliation? Here’s a recent example of that, “Harry Reid should not be allowed a temple recommend, nor should any democrat for that matter.” A close relative of mine thinks Barack Obama is an “icky” man. When pressed for a reason, “Oh, you can just tell these things. I know he’s a bad man, he’s a muslim and he doesn’t salute the flag”.

    No matter what I say or show to the contrary, their mind is already made up. I had a next door neighbor prior to the start of the Iraq war, who would come over everyday and try to convince me why we needed to go to war. He had nothing to back up his arguments except to say that our government must have a valid reason which they weren’t sharing with us, (I had already pointed out that all the accepted reasons weren’t valid~to my way of thinking anyway). He felt they were privy to intel which we weren’t and we just needed to trust our leadership and not question them. He became so antagonistic in my home (daily), I had to ask my husband to talk to him about leaving me alone.
    I really don’t have a problem with real political dialog, but people have to base their belief system on something more than emotion, party affiliation, and bogus emails. My world currently doesn’t contain people who can converse meaningfully about politics. Sometimes it makes me very sad.

  • adam

    That was cathartic for me.

    re: party affiliation – I always like to comeback with “I don’t think Republicans should get temple recommends.” Granted, this works better from my current position as an independent, but it always raises some eyebrows.

    re: Obama’s ickiness – It’s especially difficult when people close to us are openly prejudiced. I try REALLY hard to remember that they are holding these views so strongly because it maintains their ego strength, that the breaking down of these knee-jerk assumptions can be very painful. Also, we’re all so dang stubborn and no matter how faulty a foundation one rests their beliefs on, the more you try to influence them, the more they’ll dig their heels in.

    Still, when stuff like that comes out I really end up resting on the idea that I’ll just have to relate to said person in other areas of life, kind of like you mentioned previously.

    Also related to Obama, a good friend of mine was a democratic delegate (or something similar), and the vote in his group was 3-2 for Obama (over Clinton). Near the end of the meeting a woman showed up with her husband and said, “We’re voting for Clinton because Obama is a muslim terrorist in the mafia.”

    So my friend had to vote for Clinton (as the delegate) because of this lady’s unarguably prejudiced opinion. Sometimes it gets so bad all you can do is laugh, really. Or psychoanalyze them like I do. We all have to cope somehow. 🙂

  • Steve

    It’s b/c we’ve allowed politics to define us in this country. We NEED lables to describe us and defend. Very tribal.

    I once read that there is a reason Conservative media does so much better than liberal media in the terms of ratings. Conservative minds generally prefer to be told what they already believe. Liberals tend to want to be challenged and defend their beliefs. Thus, this means everyone listens to conservative media (Rush, Hannity, etc.) and very few to Air America. The science in the article (wish I could find it) seemed pretty solid, but I’m sure it’d just be considered “liberal porpaganda” by the right, haha.

    You are the first person I have ‘met’ that also considers themselves a Socialist Libertarian. There are other terms, but nothing ‘mainstream’. We should start our own party, haha.

  • adam

    Hah, yeah good idea. Sign me up!

    I must be a little bit liberal than, because I love having my beliefs challenged, although I honestly prefer Rush to Air America. Not that I’m a big fan of either, but for some reason I hold liberals to a higher standard on the non-snobbery scale, so I’m often disappointed.

    NPR trumps both, however.

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