I'm a Democrat from a mostly Republican family. I've got Republican (adult) step-children. And things are heating up as we get closer to the election. I've had texting discussions with one stepson over women's health issues, Obamacare and constitutional rights. I have to admit that if the debate with my brother-in-law had kept going, I might have leapt over the kitchen counter to help him hear my point better. I even got into a bit of a heated discussion with my mother. I pulled back in the name of peace.
But if we believe strongly and care deeply than these conversations have to get heated. They don't have to get personal and ugly, but conviction can lead to raised voices. When I was a teenager, my dad and I fought a lot. Politics was just one of the many topics we argued over. It was my first experience with political debate. I got emotional and didn't really score many solid points on the actual issues. It's okay. I was learning. My father and I have recently managed several rounds of civil discourse.
I'm still learning and don't always manage to sideswipe the emotional uprising. I want so much to be cool and calm and speak like Michelle Obama. But I miss points, get mad and forget the reasons why I know I'm right.
Here's the thing -- I think I'm right. I also think the other person isn't all wrong. Probably mostly wrong, misguided or brain-washed even. But not all wrong. How do we have the real debate? A back and forth that's respectful. That's meaningful. How would you go about changing someone's mind?
I don't have the answer here. But there is one question I'm going to ask my debate partners from now on: How did you come to your beliefs? I think this is a good question. It gives me pause. How did I end up with my political beliefs? I can't remember. It seems I was born thinking this way.
Did you inherit your political beliefs? Learn them in school? Was there a formative moment or person you can point to? Let's start here and see where the conversation goes. Please share. I'd love to hear what you think.