I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there’s an election coming up.
And people have really strong opinions about it. They even have the audacity to post it all on Facebook.
I happen to be one of those folks.
Now I know some of my friends don’t support my candidates, my causes and my concerns. And during election season, those differences can cause conflict and hurt feelings. I can't and won't refrain from writing about or discussing politics, but here are FOUR “Campaign Promises” designed to promote peace...and peace of mind...on my Facebook page:
Promise #1. I will discuss any topic, answer any question, respond to any dispute...as long as the exchange is respectful.
If you think what I’m posting on my Facebook wall is B.S., feel free to speak up.
If you have a differing perspective, share it.
If you are offended, let me know.
I'm aware that I have strong opinions (Take that surprised look off your face!), but I'm open to dialogue and will listen to what you have to say, if you can provide valid facts to back it up. (Such statements as "God told me," or "The Bible clearly teaches" won't fly with me!) You can respectfully ask me any question, and I promise to respond politely and try not to become defensive. ("Hey, fag. Don't you know marriage is only for a man and woman?" doesn't qualify. I got that question recently.) I've added a footnote section that will give you a brief overview of my perspective on key points that are likely to be the “Hot Button Issues” in this election.
Secondary Promise: I've had those experiences where I was on a friend's Facebook page, and been verbally attacked by people who didn't know me...and my "friend" never said a word or tried to intervene. So I also promise that we’ll keep the exchange focused on the issues, not the person who disagrees. I can't prevent anyone from sharing opposing (even passionate) opinions, but I won't allow name-calling or shaming. And I discourage profanity. (If you can't make your point without the excessive use of such language, you should probably step away, take a breath...maybe count to ten.)
Let's talk...calmly, with civility and courtesy.
Promise #2. We will disagree.
But know this: I won’t threaten to un-friend you, nor insist you un-friend me. I won’t vow to move to another country if the election doesn’t go “my” way. While I have concerns...even fears...about some of the candidates, I have no plans to repatriate if they’re victorious.
EXCEPTIONS Disclaimer: This promise has limits. First, I can’t promise I won’t be disappointed. After all, if you say you’re my “friend,” but support candidates who demean me as a gay person and pledge to limit my civil rights as an American, it casts doubt on the authenticity of our friendship. It’s one thing to disagree about a political position, but when it’s this personal, it’s not “my opinion” versus “your opinion;” it’s about my equality. It’s about my life! (Did you know that Presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal have all agreed to speak at a conference organized by a man who thinks the government should kill gay people? If you are my friend, and you support them, I have to ask if you think I should be put to death.)
Secondly, while I can (hopefully or naively) assume you’re supporting an anti-gay candidate for a variety of other reasons, if you begin sharing bigoted, exaggerated and deceptive statements that oppose LGBT equality, or marginalize/demonize LGBT folks, it’s entirely possible that I will challenge you...on your page. I might question your uninformed opinion, confront your trite meme, disprove your sweeping generalizations, offer perspective to your preconceptions, or even dispute your narrow theological interpretation. Granted, I will continue to abide by my One Rule of being respectful, but my responses could be ardent.
Finally, if I find that it’s not just your candidate, but you who’s the bigot, I will probably end our connection. At that point, it's no longer about the election! After all, what’s the basis of our “friendship?”
Promise #3. I will consider faith a factor, but perhaps not in the expected way.
I’m tired of rehearsed, contrived doctrinal statements parroted for the grandstanding effect. I’m a Christian, but I’d vote for a person of a different faith, or who claims no faith. I am not interested in candidates' "favorite Bible verse." It's not that I don't value faith, but that's not the real issue here. I honestly think many voters who insist on "faith" in a candidate actually only want THEIR faith. They would not be so supportive if the "faith" was Hindu, or Buddhist or (Allah forbid), Muslim. In reality, it comes down to Interpretation of the Bible, and with thousands of different Christian denominations, how do we decide which single viewpoint is the "right" one? I'm looking for ability, compassion, ethics, integrity.
If a candidate claims a Christian faith, but lies (or exaggerates) to support a position or prejudice, I’m gonna have to call into question the viability of that faith. (I won’t never deny their faith, but will doubt its significance.) If a candidate (or supporter) invokes the name of Jesus, then I will insist they care about the poor, the hungry, outcasts, widows, orphans, prisoners, the oppressed, the wounded and sick. (You know, the folks Jesus cared about. cf: Luke 4:18-21)
Clarification: It’s difficult (Impossible?) for me to listen to someone talk about their deep faith while they advocate taking away Social Security for seniors, oppose a living wage, threaten to eliminate affordable healthcare, justify gun violence, increase economic disparity, deny racial inequality, cut services to our veterans, ignore the poor, allow kids to go hungry, or disparage immigrants. The Scriptures talk extensively about these people/issues.
Promise #4. I will continue to ridicule the extremists in the campaign, but I am extremely serious about this election!
Please don’t take it personally. (Refer back to Promise #1) Let’s face it, they are saying some crazy, outrageous stuff! Making fun of them is a coping mechanism, taking the edge off my fear. Or my disgust! (I hope it at least gets you to LISTEN to them, and determine if this is the person...if these are the beliefs...you want running our country.)
I will speak out against their lies, and continue to expose their bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. I will point out their religious inconsistencies of ignoring the very people Jesus told us to help. I'll highlight their moral hypocrisy. (e.g., Don't preach about the sanctity of marriage if you've had multiple divorces. Don't seek to oppress gay people if you're using an app to secretly hook up with gay guys.)
I am passionate about the serious, pressing social needs of this country, such as hunger, poverty, homelessness, gun violence, immigration, war, universal healthcare, etc. To me, these aren’t issues, or problems. They are people. I want to call attention to these real problems that are not being addressed. I'll support, promote and vote for candidates who offer actual solutions, rather than attempting to refocus on matters that don’t matter, designed to divide us and make us afraid of one another. And that will NOT include any candidate who has an (R) designation after their name.
My name is Bill Prickett, and I approve this message.
Based on the early rhetoric, here are my thoughts on a few subjects that are likely to come up during the election, and therefore in Facebook discussions:
Abortion. I know what I believe and I’ve outlined it in detail, but I will NOT debate it with those who call themselves “Pro-Life,” but are merely as Pro-Birth.
Women's Reproductive Rights. Your uterus, your business! Beyond that, you can count on me to fight for the health coverage needed to make your own choices, between you and your doctor.
Healthcare. I'm thankful for the Affordable Healthcare Act; I have cancer and would have been un-insurable without it. It's a long-overdue, good (though imperfect) first step, which I hope will eventually go farther. To me, those fighting against "Obamacare" have ulterior motives, and have never offered any alternative solutions. My opinion: Don't threaten to repeal it when you have nothing better to offer. And if you do think it should be repealed, I want you to tell me...TO MY FACE...that you don't care if I live or die!
Religious Freedom. Your “deeply held beliefs” don’t give you the right to impose them on everyone. That's the opposite of the First Amendment protections. And if someone disagrees with you, or if you’re forced to bake a cake, that doesn’t mean you’re being persecuted for your faith. (Come back when you’re not allowed to read your Bible, go to the church of your choice, or have your head cut off!)
Immigration Reform. It's a definite need, and there's no simple answer. We must have a serious conversation that doesn't include inaccurate information, scare tactics, name-calling, labeling, silly calls for a border wall and empty deportation threats. Such approaches mere stir up strong, negative feelings against people rather than focusing energy and effort to bringing solutions to this situation.
Marriage Equality/LGBT Equality. I’m gay, in a long-term relationship. Figure it out!
Gun Control. I know about the Second Amendment, so no need to reference it for me, but I think the Laissez Faire approach we now allow in this country is a gross misrepresentation of the Framer’s intent and scope. Gun violence is an epidemic, and people are dying. Do not tell me nothing can be done. I know we can do better. I know we ARE better.
One person’s “right” to own an arsenal doesn’t outweigh the rights of others to be alive!