12 September 2012

Love it or leave it

Tolerance is a funny thing.
I've been inundated recently to offer some comment on the upcoming US Presidential election. I have resisted for much same reason that I shall not be voting this time around: I don't have to live with the result. 
Of course, in a global sense, yes, we all have to live with the result, but my point is that the result will have not any immediate or intimate impact on my life, so my input into the result should likewise be limited. (A stoical stance worthy of Julius Caesar's Marcus Brutus!)
What I can offer, however, is an observation - drawn out by a recent query as to my views on Mitt Romney's faith/religion.
Last year, the DEB and I hosted two friends of his to dinner - a British-American couple from Texas. Many of you, dear Readers, will be stunned in amazement to learn that I broke bread with not one, but two, staunchly evangelical, Tea Party supporting Republicans. (Or perhaps more shocked by the fact that two Republicans dared to sup at my "liberal" table?) 
Our affable dinner took a sombre turn when Carla began to bemoan the current state of affairs in the USA. I surprised myself with my own detachment and ability to listen calmly as she shared her grievances over President Obama's "betrayal"of the American people. 
I did not pitch a fit or throw a wobbly -  but I took pleasure and smug satisfaction in the thought that in the upcoming election my one Democratic vote would surely cancel out hers. 
Of course, this is a ridiculous thought, this is not at all how it works! And so, it was in that single moment that I realised I shouldn't and mustn't vote. I would be doing so for the wrong reasons - to vote against someone else's opinion, in attempt to counteract the influence of their vote. Voting is privilege, and many gave their lives to achieve this right for us all. To undertake it out of spite or anger is to my mind, wrong. 
Sadly, I feel that this is precisely what politics in America has become: "spite voting". Perhaps, this is what it has always been, and I just didn't realise it until now.
And so, to Mitt. 
After Carla finished her tirade, expecting me to take the bait and bite back, in some sort of pro-Obama litany, I responded instead with what I thought was a fair and balanced remark: "Well, Mitt Romney is your best chance against Obama."
Carla fell silent.
It was as if I had just suddenly declared a belief that the moon was made of cheese.
I explained that I was living in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was elected Governor. And, a very decent Governor he was. Mitt's faith/religion was not at all a stumbling block for me, or the notoriously 'liberal' electorate of Massachusetts - but it clearly was for Carla! She could barely speak the word 'Mormon' -  her pastor had just preached a sermon recently about the 'Mormon cult', and warned his flock against being deceived by the "closet liberal" Romney.
"Oh, dear, " I said, allowing my smugness to finally take hold. "You're going to be in a bit of a bind, then, aren't you? What on earth will you do?"
Fast-forward to now, and within the blink of an eye, Tea Party voters like Carla have swiftly shifted their song sheet, and soundly changed their tune. The "M-word" is no longer the bugbear it once was. The greatest (and saddest) irony in all of this is the bare-faced fact that if Mitt Romney were the Democrat or Independent candidate, and a Mormon, the Religious Right - who are embracing him now - would be grilling him and having him from breakfast! 

1 comment:

Expat mum said...

I agree! Very well put. The M word hasn't really come up - in my view because, as far as the Right are concerned, it trumps the N word.
It is very sad that a lot of people are voting to spite the other party, but a lot of the legal and political decision-making in the past four years has done exactly the same thing. There is no bi-partisanship any more; everything is a pitched battle.
And now, we have a terrible situation in Libya, caused by a film-maker who pronounces himself Jewish-Israeli, being laid at the feet of Americans, and Obama in particular.