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Jess Wilson Headshot

The Biggest Hypocrisy of All

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I'm really struggling to make it through these last few days before the election.

I've tried to stay quiet for fear of offending anyone. I didn't want to alienate my readers who may think differently than I do. I desperately wanted to avoid fanning the flames of division that threaten to engulf us all.

But my restraint has run thin. I took on a colleague the other day -- committing the cardinal sin of drawing attention to the flimsiness of our political détente. But I just can't do it anymore. I can't stand by and pretend that it's okay. That it's not tearing me apart. That the hypocrisy lives only in the lies of the politicians -- in the behavior that we've somehow come to believe is acceptable from those running for office -- the epic flip-flops and the campaign walk-backs and the tried and true favorite "I stand by what I said but apologize for what you heard."

I can't continue to pretend that it's not personal. And I can't pretend that the real hypocrisy, and by far the most damaging kind, is anything less than the willful ignorance of the voters who swear that they care about protecting our rights, yet plan to vote for the candidates who have made it painfully clear that they don't.

Like the friends who say that they love their gay friends and support their right to marry whomever they choose but are going to vote for Romney because, as one gentleman told me recently, "We have the separation of Church and State in this country so one person isn't going to change anything." (Truthfully, I'm not even sure what that means.)

Or the male friends who say that they love their wives and daughters and respect their sisters and mothers and who at the very least feign outrage at the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock when they talk about "legitimate rape" and pregnancy from rape intended by God but who aren't remotely offended nor bothered that the Republican Party just gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Akin's campaign, that Paul Ryan co-sponsored bills with Akin using the only slightly different and no less egregious term "forcible rape" or that Mitt Romney reiterated his support for Mourdock the day after he said that he stood by his statement that pregnancy from rape is intended by God.

Or the people who say that they completely agree that autistic children like mine and so many others with disabilities deserve every chance to become productive, tax-paying members of society, but are perfectly comfortable voting for the guy who abruptly changed the subject on Medicaid when reminded that families of children with disabilities often depend on it in order to have that very chance.

And what really baffles me -- truly has me scratching my head -- are the ones who claim that they're voting for the GOP because they believe that the federal government has far overreached its intended domain -- that we're overregulated and overlegislated and they want the government out of their personal decisions about their lives -- but who are voting for men who have pledged to reach as far as they can into the decisions that women -- me, their wives, their sisters, their daughters, their mothers -- can make about our lives and our bodies and our fates. Or the decisions that my friends can make -- and that our children will someday make -- about who they marry, because they have also pledged to ensure that if the person we love is similarly gendered, we will have no right to marry them. How is that not the greatest hypocrisy of them all?

I've tried to stay quiet, but the other day I finally said it. All of it. I said to a colleague, "You have the choice to vote as you will. Of course you do. But I want you to make the choice with your eyes open. And I want you to make it willing to say to me, 'I decided that I was okay with all of those people dismissing your experience as the victim of rape. And I am okay with you and millions of others with special needs children being on your own to figure it out.' And I want you to look at our gay friend and tell him that you're okay with him not being able to marry the person that he loves."

I gained steam. I wanted to sit down and stop talking. I wanted to stay quiet. But it was too late.

"And if you're not okay with it," I continued, "if you disagree with all of that, as you profess that you do, then I want you to be able to look us all in the eye and tell us that you don't think it's right, but you've decided that it didn't matter. Or that something mattered more. I want you to be able to say that a mathematically implausible tax code or a barely discernibly different foreign policy mattered more to you than any and all of these things."

I've tried to stay quiet. I know that this is my perspective and I know that others feel just as passionately about what they believe is right. I know that the abortion issue in particular is hard. I really do. I understand that if you believe that life begins at conception then there is a visceral need to protect that life. I get that. But I also believe that there has to be an overriding mechanism of mercy somewhere in the process. That if a woman -- or a girl -- is raped, a victim of incest, dying, that there has to be a point at which she is given back the choice that was otherwise so violently taken from her.

I've tried to stay quiet for fear of offending anyone. I didn't want to alienate my readers who may think differently than I do. I desperately wanted to avoid fanning the flames of division that threaten to engulf us all.

But then I read this.

And it came to me.

I may offend someone. Sadly, I might alienate some of the readers whom I adore. And, like it or not, I will fan those flames of division.

But I know now that I have no choice.

Because it is my silence that would be the biggest hypocrisy of all.

*

I would like to sincerely thank Christopher Hennessy for the post that gave me the framework to express what I've been feeling and that moved me to have the courage to publish this -- I am grateful for the push.

Jess can be found at her blog, Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau and their two daughters, Katie and Brooke.