Thursday, November 8, 2012

Being in the Minority

Two days ago on November 6, 2012 our country had an election. It was difficult for all concerned. I happen to be in the clear minority in my family. My friends, on the other hand, are pretty evenly split. The last couple of years have been pretty toxic, with horrible personal attacks being leveled against both candidates. Living in the swing state of Ohio, we all were bombarded by political ads that were filled with half-truths designed to confuse the average citizen.

I'll admit it -- I am a news junkie.  I watch far too much television and pay attention to politics.  But what I didn't expect this year was the impact that social media would have on this election. It felt like a Civil War. Families and friends were divided and feelings were hurt. One of my brothers even "unfriended" me on facebook because of a political comment that I think went too far and told him so.

Here are some samples of my facebook stream:

The implication of these two posts is that one candidate is a Man of God, and that the other lacks character, civility and respect. These next two posts reflect how family members stopped speaking with family members and friends lost friends.

I read several discussions where parents weren't speaking to children, siblings were not speaking to siblings, etc. I'm sensitive. It hurt me to read that we had descended to this level.

During the past few months, I've been able to have civil conversations with three people who disagree with me politically. It was real pleasure for me to hear their points of view and for them to hear mine. In all three cases, there were several areas of agreement on the issues. In all cases there were "deal breakers" where each of us could not compromise our belief. Among these issues were: abortion, the debt, birth control, health care and how much of a role government should play in our lives. 

I will tell you my deal breakers. I feel STRONGLY that in the richest country in the world, every person should have access to health insurance. When I defend this position, I point out that many Americans are uninsurable due to health issues. I know so many people who fit in this category. I am uninsurable, my husband is uninsurable, a niece who had a brain tumor at age 14 is uninsurable. If you've had a heart attack, cancer or orthopedic surgery, you're uninsurable.  The ONLY reason I've been able to be insured is because  I could participate in group insurance through my employer. Many people are not in the same boat. When I point out that there are many Americans who cannot buy insurance at any cost, even if they have the financial resources to do it, my Republican friends agree that everyone should be able to buy insurance (even if they don't support providing health insurance to the poor, etc.). However, they don't want to visualize that it could happen to them. One person I know owns his own business and is self-insured. He is against "Obamacare." When he developed cancer, he called to find out when the provision would kick in that would prevent his insurance company being able to cancel his insurance. He is not part of a "group" and would, in all probability, be unable to acquire new insurance with this preexisting condition.

My second deal-breaker has to do with abortion and birth control. I've known people who've experienced an ectopic pregnancy and other tragic circumstances that might make an abortion the only realistic option. I  think this is a complex issue that should not be decided by a panel of men who will never have to face the decision of saving their own life.The Republican PLATFORM is so extreme that it could be interpreted to deny access to birth control, the ability of couples to have children through in vitro fertilization, etc. I'm often told that most Republicans are not extreme on this position, but many are. They have frequently promoted "personhood" amendments and the platform does not allow for any exceptions, including rape and incest.

I also believe in science. I know evolution is a FACT. I do not believe that the Bible should be taken literally. I believe in climate change and feel strongly about environmental issues. I believe in religious tolerance and tolerance generally. I hate war and tend to be a pacifist.

I revealed in a previous post that at one time I was a very religious person and wanted to be a nun. I think my attitude towards social issues was formed back then. Nuns tend to have the attitude that "we're all in this together" vs. "you're on your own." They try to develop community. (I guess you could say they are socialists). This does not mean that I don't believe in personal responsibility. After all, I'm a Jones -- we ALL believe in personal responsibility.

So, yes, I voted for President Obama to have a second term. And although I've spent several months feeling like I'm in the minority, apparently I'm not. I'm hoping 2013 is a year in which people from both "sides" make a commitment to work together for the benefit of the country we ALL love.

Note: I wrote this post because I want my descendants to understand who I was. Too often, I think we as genealogists, tend to tell everyone else's story and neglect our own.


  1. I'm sorry you had to go through all that. I must admit that I didn't. Maybe one of the perks of being African American. I do hope that people will calm down and get past it and not use the next four years to continue being angry and upset. We are all in it together.

  2. I doubt there are very many people who would disagree with your summation of what the last few months have been like. You were not alone in your distaste for the way in which people expressed their opinions.

    You articulate your opinion and why you hold it very clearly. While others might not agree with your opinion, at least you've come by it through a life well lived, difficulties not withstanding.

    I hope that your descendants and family appreciate you for who you are. I know I do.

  3. Kristin and Laura,
    Thanks so much for your comments. I knew I could count on you.

  4. Kathy even though as an Aussie I'm largely outside this debate I had to comment and congratulate on your courage of declaring your position've shown great courage. I find it odd that democracy seems to be inreasingly seen as "you must agree wirh me". I had a similarly negative experience of political conflict with my very best friend of 30 years. Win or lose, based on our political opinions, we have to acccept others have the same right as us to express their views, and vote on them. Congratulations on standing up for your convictions!

    1. Pauleen,
      Thank you for commenting. I can't believe that this blog had enough reach to get a comment from an Aussie. I'm going to click on your profile and try to contact you.

  5. I love you so much mom. I am so glad you wrote this, so glad you sent it to me, and so glad I took the time to read it this morning. I am so proud of your courage. And politically, I am your daughter.

  6. i am so glad you are my friend - even selfishly, so that i know that there are two of us in the same minority! wish i was as eloquent as you in expressing my thoughts and feelings about this.....thanks for speaking for all of us

  7. Hi Kathy ~
    Just thought I'd pop over here and say thanks for stopping by my blog to read about politics in the 1890's :-) Like you I am very much the minority in my family - although most in my family are relatively restrained about offering me their opinions it is hard sometimes. I think you've written a great article outlining your thoughts and opinions!!


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