My wife, my friends, and family are wonderful, intelligent, very understanding people.
They have to be. They’re dealing with me; and I’m a handful.
They know that I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, and that blogging on Patch has afforded me an opportunity to find my voice as a writer.
They know that I do this for enjoyment and entertainment (I am a blogger, not a reporter), and as someone with the far-fetched hope that someone would read something I’ve written here and offer me a break as a writer. My friends and family have read and shared these blogs, along with countless other things I’ve written throughout the years, because they are supportive of me.
They’re also very understanding, very patient people.
They deal with me bloviating about politics at all hours, of all days, every year. It’s a constant hobby/obsession of mine, and I know it takes a big heart for them to love a junkie.
If you don’t understand what a feat that is, you’ve probably never fielded a text message from someone waking you up at 3:30am that says, “I cannot believe 15% of Ohio Republicans think Mitt Romney deserves more credit than Barack Obama for the death of Osama bin Laden.”
Oh, and did I mention I include a picture of the poll results in that text message to prove I didn’t make that stat up? That’s what kind of jerk I am.
I am a perpetual work of art in the field of annoyance.
Because—and this is counter-intuitive, I know—I actually think this politics thing is fun. I think it’s fun to become involved in discussion about our country, to have a little fun with that discussion, and to civilly argue the plans and strategies that really matter to making this country great. I don’t just consider our freedom of speech a right, I consider it an enjoyable responsibilty.
Still, I try to be as consciencious as I can be of my political viewpoints. I try to use long form, because I believe strong opinions should be well-thought out and explained. I try to back up everything I say with sources—legitimate ones—like I was taught to do in school. I try to inform first, and persuade later. I make fun, but try never to insult. I try not to fly off the handle and use one-lined hyperbole in place of logic and context. I believe those things denote a level of paranoia, and they do nothing to promote an intelligent level of conversation about our nation.
And yes, sometimes I am wrong, and I will say so. And sometimes I might even tell someone I normally disagree with they are right. And the reason I do those things is because that is the mature thing to do.
I worry, sometimes, that I am becoming a minority in that. I worry that the forces of the loud, ignorant and/or crazy have taken over the discussion. I worry that the voice I try to represent—fact-based, even in my satire—is lost, like a scream in a room full of churning jackhammers.
Having said all that, this is my last blog for Patch.
I’ve written a blog a week for the last year on Patch. I’m not quite sure why, but many of them seem to have generated a regular following, discussion and/or controversy. However, I don’t think that’s due to my writing or attitudes so much as it’s due to the audience.
It sometimes feels like people pre-decide for themselves that I’m a “libtard, commie-socialist, Obama-lover” who is an “overpaid teacher” (all things I’ve been called) in order to apply a bias to me that is neither realistic, nor remotely true. Some of them probably see my name attached to a work with a title about politics, and they join into the comments discussion to insult both myself and others without having even read the blog.
And that’s where the fun stops.
It stops when the fun in politics turns to insult. It stops when some people have such a crisis of authority that they can’t agree on what a fact is. It stops when people can’t have a civil discussion about our issues. It stops when people put away intelligence and resort to immature labels. It stops when no one is willing to admit they’re wrong.
It stops when someone disagrees with your political viewpoint, so they threaten your job or your livelihood.
If that is the level of conversation we’re going to have in this country, then I’d like you to stop giving a damn about who the next President will be. It simply does not matter. Educated, respectful discourse is the true ruler of any democracy. And if you are someone that is incapable of using fact-based, critical thought and respect in your rhetoric about politics without resorting to insult or threat, no president, policy, or politician is more of a threat to this country than you are. Because if the individual citizens that show an inability to intelligently discuss and compromise become a majority, they will elect representatives that promote those same flaws, and our nation will collapse from inaction.
My friends and family know this. They know me as someone who loves common sense first, and promotes affiliation second. They’ve supported me as a writer, and as a political junkie, even when they’ve disagreed with my arguments. And their diverse viewpoints continue to keep me in check, so that when I am wrong, or I’ve gone too far, they tell me so. I thank them for that, and I thank the people on Patch who respectfully commented and questioned me on the blogs I wrote.
My concern is that we are a dying breed.