Monday, September 22, 2008

Polarized

The other day, I struck up a conversation with a father of a son in Ethan’s autism therapy program. We talked about some things our sons struggle with due to their disability, such as playing team sports. It felt good to talk with another parent whom totally gets what my husband and I deal with on a daily basis.
Then the conversation moved onto our sons’ individual education programs at their public schools. “I was so happy to hear that Sarah Palin is going to mandate more clearly written IEPs,” he said. At the mention of her name, my smile froze. I left the building feeling a little shaky, and couldn’t get the image of him mentioning Palin’s name out of my head.
This conversation made me realize how polarized politics has made me. No matter how much I have in common with another person, if he or she mentions their support of the Republican party, I immediately feel a disconnect.
I didn’t used to be this way. When Bush won in 2000, I was disappointed—I’m a life-long Democrat. In those days, however, I was open to voting Republican if the candidate appealed to issues I cared about. I knew neither party was perfect—both suck up to special interests, which never help the average American.
In 2002, when Bush made the case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I believed him, and supported the invasion of a sovereign country. Then the day came when I felt betrayed by my president. It was July 2003. I was half-listening to NPR while making dinner and playing with Ethan. An NPR reporter stated that after searching the entire country, no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Anger bubbled over in me—I was duped.
Five years later, no one even mentions weapons of mass destruction as the reason we occupy Iraq. Since then, I’ve been counting the days for Bush and entourage to leave office. And, unfortunately, I don’t see much difference between McCain and Bush on issues I care about. The last thing I want is another four years of the same.
I bet my reasoning wouldn’t have much impact on this McCain/Palin supporting dad, no matter how much we have in common in day-to-day life. He’d probably have the same reaction to reading my blog as I did to hearing him say Palin’s name.
It saddens me that politics have so divided our country.

5 comments:

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

I find myself doing the same things sometimes, although here in my office, everyone is probably going to vote the opposite of me......They send out Obama jokes all the time....

I don't like to debate, so I don't speak up most of the time. Now, if there is someone who is unsure, I can sway them to my side ;)

jennie said...

I am right there with you. In fact I get high blood pressure when I hear other people talking about how good Mc Cain is or saying something negative about Obama.

Mark said...

As the father of a girl with autism and epilepsy, I'd really like to know what Palin thinks it means to be a "friend" to families dealing with these issues. I provide information on the rhetoric and records at http://specialneeds08.blogspot.com

I think it's interesting that 80 percent of the people who have taken my poll think Obama-Biden would be more supportive of children with special needs.

maggie said...

Oh, so very true about the polarization. My dear Tom can let things roll off his back in a way that I wish I could, but I have so much trouble this election year and right now. Once it is over, I think I'll simmer back down to reasonable, but it's like every issue that matters is all right there in our faces, and it's too easy to categorize people based on which candidate they support. I don't want to put people into boxes or feel my blood boil or my mind be unable to comprehend, but it happens this time around quite a bit. Even a few people I generally like and respect are voting the "wrong" (I say that with a wink) way, and it just puzzles the crap out of me.

As a side note, I also supported the war when I thought I knew what it was about because of what we were told, and I also feel betrayed.

MaryAnn Ashley said...

I'm not sure why President Bush couldn't fess up to his mistakes. Probably since everytime he comes on the tv it instantly feels like a Saturday Night Live skit & jacks our language so wonderfully... For me, Arnold Schwartzenger has done more damage to my Republican Registration. I don't feel polarized... I'm actually more on the fence now.