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Selma Stories: Confessions of an election pacifist
Selma Stories

Selma Stories: Confessions of an election pacifist

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Campaign signs large and small, in yards around town. Commercials on the television. Fliers in your mailbox. Appeals for donations in your email box.

Must be election time, one of America’s favorite fall sports.

We all pledge allegiance to our political teams, be they parties or candidates. Our team is righteous, the other is evil. Their guy is a crook, ours is a saint. I’m voting for that guy/gal because it’s my neighbor’s cousin’s brother’s spouse.

Elections are the most important exercise of our citizenship. But lately, election time also is an excuse for some people to exercise their inner demons and ugly rants. You know what I’m talking about if you spend any amount of time on social media, watched the Presidential debates or scan the mailers.

The venom I see from social media posts makes me question the emotional sanity of some folks. The anger, the hatred, the lack of coherent dialogue, the conspiracy theories — it’s troubling and downright scary. 

We all get intense and emotional about the things we value and care about. It might be our family. Or a sports team. Or our faith. Or, this month, a political stance.

But being intense and emotional doesn’t have to result in nastiness. Have we gone so far in our political dialogue that we cannot discuss issues and candidates without screaming at each other?

Actually, some of us do possess the ability and temperament to remain relatively calm while discussing politics. But we pick our moments and our audience.

I have friends and family, people I care about and who care about me, that I can engage in political dialogue. We don’t always agree. When we don’t, we explain our opinions and feelings and then listen to the other person. 

It’s called civility and sometimes I wonder if it is a disappearing art. Especially in social posts from random strangers.

For that reason, I decided to sit out any political discourse on social media during the election campaign. And I displayed no candidates’ signs.

I had a few local candidates ask me to plant their campaign signs in my yard. But I declined because I am writing about the elections and I don’t want anyone to think I favor one candidate over another in my writing. A journalist’s credibility is his/her most important asset. Without credibility, our work is tainted.

As for national candidates, I declined to wallow in the sewer of public discourse. In simple terms, I’m being an election pacifist.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I don’t have strong political opinions. It’s just that I don’t wish to share them with strangers. I’ve seen enough of what some folks post when they disagree politically. I don’t need that grief. Go berate someone else. I’m not interested in your bile.

So you aren’t seeing me weigh in on the presidential or congressional campaigns. If you are family, a friend or a neighbor and want to discuss the candidates and issues, I’d be happy to oblige. Until you get angry, hateful or abusive, then I’m out.

Call me a coward if you wish. Say I’m disloyal by not sticking up for my favorite candidates. I’ll own that. 

But I’m sorry, I just choose not to wallow in the political mud in this beautiful fall weather.

Longtime Selma  resident Ken Robison is a retired newspaper reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. “Selma Stories” runs regularly in The Enterprise.

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