When Politics Become Personal, Everyone Loses

지난달

Family, for all its messiness, is still family.

On October 21st Canadians elected a government. If anything is going to be memorable about this election it will be that it was the election where I learned up front and personal just how personal some people take politics.

This past election was one of the nastiest I have ever seen. It was like watching American politics unfolding in Canada. That level of partisan wrangling is not productive.

I am interested in politics. Being an avid consumer of media, the political stories are usually the first ones I look at. Government and what they are doing shapes my world in many ways. I try to understand not only the policies but also the mechanics.
I’ve learned over the years that even when laws or policies are impacting my life, adapting is a better solution than waiting for political change.

The Frustration of Political Arguments

Discussion and debate are one thing, arguments are not worth having.
Oh I can get caught up in them just as easily as the next person. The problem with arguments is after, I am pissed. I’m pissed with the person involved in the argument. I’m more pissed with myself for engaging in them.
Some people live for that stuff. Doesn’t mean I need to provide the target.

Arguing with family over politics is too volatile. I try not to engage. I kept comments on Facebook during the campaign as evenhanded as possible. I didn’t want to poke the bear with my sister, or anyone else.

Being Accused of Not Caring

I was rather surprised when my sister messaged me on election morning. She hadn’t been in touch for months. I’d seen her partisan posts the day before and ignored them.

She asked me if I remembered an incident that had occurred when dad died and how she ‘had my back’. That was a bit of a stretch. The brother out of touch had targeted me with his anger toward his sisters. I’m the only sister without a partner. He didn’t dare go after them.

This out of the blue questioning without any pleasantries had me cautious.

She said she felt like I was doing to her what our brother had done to me. She hadn’t contacted me in months and I had avoided poking her political sensibilities. How was I was doing anything ‘to her’?

What I was ‘doing to her’ was holding opposite views. To her, this election was personal and my holding opposite views was just a slap in the face. My opposite views meant I didn’t care about her.

I stared at the screen dumbfounded. My sister is an intelligent educated woman. The idea of taking an election personal was just stunning. The idea that I was slapping her in the face with my vote when I was three provinces away and one vote among many was even more stunning.

It was truly a what the fuck moment for me.

My mind was trying to comprehend how anyone can take an election personal. There had to be more to the picture. I asked.

Yes there was. The economy in her area was impacting her family directly. Among the factors that could help to improve the situation is the building of an oil pipeline.

I pointed out to her that not only was an election with a win by her party choice not going to change the situation but also governments on both sides of the divide had failed to get this accomplished.

There was some more back and forth and the convo finally came around to catching up until I had to head out to a meeting.

The Aftermath

The exchange left me upset. Really upset and angry. I felt for her situation but was angry at her bullying and manipulation. I was not going to allow her to do that again.

Do not engage was to be my rule.

Since the election she has dropped some nasty comments on posts on my timeline where I was engaged in some conversations over the election. I ignored them. The people she was commenting to could respond or not.

Then she dropped a link into messenger. After a while I took a look at the link. It was partisan rhetoric. I reminded myself of the do not engage rule and didn’t respond.

I woke yesterday morning to a nasty message that I was being passive aggressive, not responding privately but then going after her on Facebook. She saw my conversations as being directed at her.

After a few hours I finally decided to make one response. I let her know I was not going to engage and she should find another target.

Her response was to inform me I have a closed mind and she’s unfriended me.

Good politicians know that taking politics personal is never good. At the end of the day, they have to work together to get anything done in government.

Taking politics so personal you’ll cut off an avenue of communication with family is unhealthy. At the end of the day, she’s still my sister.

Maybe I should have told her I had voted in the advanced polls.

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The content of this post I can empathize with its entirety.

My nephew is a former Congressional candidate for the State of Pennsylvania for the Libertarian Party. His politics and mine are at odds. Due to this we no longer engage on FacebookTM. Our situation was very similar to you and your sisters'.

Myself? I no longer respond to much political discourse anymore; whether the discussion is on social media, or in person. My emotional and mental health as well as relationships are too important to me to allow politics to cause me a breakdown in any of these areas.

I have very strong political views although they do evolve with time and circumstances. By no means am I a pundit in the area of political science. Yet; I have traversed this world and have had many first person experiences that give me my personal political beliefs whether it be domestic or foreign affairs.

Ain't nobody paying me for my political views (with the exception of an upvote on a politcal topic here on STEEM). Therefore; I will keep my political activity consigned to voting. Maybe then I will stay out of trouble !

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I hear you on that one. When I engage in political discussion ... I'm generally watching for information and perspectives I've not seen before to look further into. Telling me how much you hate/love some party or politician is old news.

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Many times that old news is also fake news!

I live in the states so you can imagine the kind of political talk that goes on. I never ynderstand why people take it so personal. It is funny she accused you of not being open minded when she is upset because you have a different opinion, which is being closed minded. "My way or the highway" thinking.

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very much so and really not much different than a lot of people. My brother can be like that but doesn't take it to blood sport level, I can see it more as stubborn.. which I've been told I am.

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I'm sorry you're going through this, Shadows. As someone who's been the target of family manipulation as well, I completely empathize.

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I hadn't heard from her for 18 months prior to her current escapade.. another 18 or 24 works for me.

Just tell them it's your choice, not theirs. If they are that nasty about it then just block them and move on.
Looks like here in the States we're going to have a choice of the tasty end of a shit sandwich in the 2020 elections.

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I would do that with strangers @ultratrain. I don't treat family like that.

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So be it. They will simply continue to be miserable people, family or not.

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well she wont be being miserable to me since she chose to unfollow me. .. note i said she chose

I had the same problem here, and also with a family member. I did not agree with the hatefulness and self-righteousness of her stance - my issue with her transcended politics - and she blocked me on FB.
I am struck by two statements in your post. The first is Good politicians know that taking politics personal is never good.. If this is so, there are very few good politicians in the US, the actions of both houses of our legislature have devolved into bad performance art.
The second is adapting is a better solution than waiting for political change. This notion concerns me. We in the US have adapted to the point that we no longer pay attention to any information that conflicts with the most prevalent (and manufactured) narrative.
But I hear you! Until and unless we start discussing issues rationally instead of trying to ram them down throats, by law if we have to, we the people will be on the losing end of any battle.

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you'll notice when a politician manages to remember that politics are not personal, they can reach across party lines and work collaboratively. That is when the work for the people gets done. It's why some of Canada's landmark programs have arrived during minority governments. The government of the day had to work well with others to stay in power.

The adapting I referred to wasn't in reference to political propaganda. My sister's family are personally impacted by the economic conditions that she blames on the current government. The blame is not well placed but nonetheless, regardless of how the conditions came about, she needs to adapt. Putting her energy into bullying her family and others over politics is not solving her personal economic needs.

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We don't have many politicians like that in the US, and as a result nothing good ever gets done. Tulsi Gabbard, whom I support wholeheartedly for President, is the only Democrat that I know of, and Rand Paul and Justin Amash the only Repubs. It's a terrible time to be an American. So much hatefulness! Everyone is hated by some group or other, we are at each others throats.
And how easy it is to blame the current administration for current problems, problems that have been in the making for a century or more. I would like to see a major political shake up in the US.
I'm sorry your sister is having such a difficult time both adapting and knowing that you are not her enemy. I've lost some really close friends because I don't spout the same political slogans they do. I try to understand both "sides" and to remind folks that everyone wants the same things: health, freedom, love and happiness. Those things just look different to different people. Crazy times.

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Well as a fellow Canadian, I agree that to take it personally is wrong. One of my son's votes for a different party than my wife and I do and I do not hold it against him. We do not have big discussions, but understand that we each have our own opinions . Sorry to hear that your sister does not wish to have a reasonable discussion about your different view on political matters.

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Yeah generally I have a laugh with others about how I need to go vote to cancel their vote. If we all thought the same, we wouldn't have a democracy.

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ugh I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I heard of so many situations like that here during the Trump/Hillary election.

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an insanity for sure.. just glad it's her insanity.

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Howdy shadowspub! Tremendous post! You are so right. Family is so much more important than politics, what your sister did is stunning and I hope she comes back around.

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she wont that I can be sure of. She's very much like a now deceased family member who would not change course no matter what.

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I'm so sorry to hear that shadowspub. Generally speaking the politics in Canada is much more reasoned and calm than the insane, hyped politics of the U.S.?

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This last election was one of the nastiest I've ever seen. The amount of over the top FUD being posted on social media was about the worst I've seen. Didn't help that some of the campaigns contributed to that.

I learned this morning there is a new law on the books which prohibits the posting of misleading posts on social media during the writ period. There is also a law against partisan postings while the polls are open on election day.

If Elections Canada even went after warning the violators it would go a long way to slowing it down.