Among friends, family and even the most bearable of coworkers, politics is a dangerous conversation. Once broached, you’re liable to offend people you thought were like-minded comrades or reveal the dark underbelly of your beliefs. After a few spoiled relationships and one too many awkward elevator rides at the office, we ought to learn our lesson. Some say that lesson is to keep mum about anything controversial. No politics at work, keep religion out of the bar and, whatever you do, don’t talk about these things in foreign countries.
I think differently. I say, talk more, talk everywhere. Talk to your in-laws, to your best friend, to the guy ordering extra cheese at Skyline. Get passionate. Disagree with the most agreeable. Take a stand. We are a country of mixed beliefs and, yes, we’re emotional, stubborn little patriots, but we’re also adults. So please, let’s talk. But before we do, we need to set a few rules. To help us keep our wits about us, here are the top 10 all-offending, intellect-killing behaviors to keep out of any political discussion this election year.
Anti-American Branding: You know what’s really anti-American? Calling the guy next to you a traitor of his land and people just because he doesn’t agree with your left or right leanings. This great nation of ours was built on the foundations of dissent. Disagreeing is what we do, so, please, remember that we are all American and if we didn’t love our country, we would move to Canada. I hear they’re much nicer there.
Fashion and Beauty Reporting: There is no denying that how you present your outer-self to the world affects how you are perceived as a leader. A skirt that doesn’t meet the Catholic school rule or unwashed, mangled hair would certainly not give the right impression. Assuming the basics are covered, there should be no talk of our political leaders’ wardrobe, makeup, hair implants or anything else not directly related to their political standing. Put your inner fashion police to rest and move on.
Poll Referencing: As soon as I hear someone referencing poll results, I tune out. Why? Because anyone can dig up poll results that flatter his or her argument. Not surprisingly, anyone can find poll results to counter said argument — and round and round we go. Leave the polls for the pundits; they’re much more fit for running circles.
Birth Certificate Authenticating: This is settled now, right? We can move on now … right?
Celebrity Hushing: As a celebrity, or any largely successful public figure, you have an open platform to have your voice heard. This doesn’t mean your voice is more important or more truthful, but only that your voice is louder. If I had that kind of power, you can be sure I would use it. Still sick of those Hollywood actors blabbing on primetime? Change the channel.
Bomb Threatening: Even if you’re joking, don’t say it. Bombing an entire country or race is never a solution or a punch line. If I hear you say it, I won’t hear anything else you say.
Charisma Bashing: Really? We’re going to hold confidence and charm against our politicians? Let’s all admit here and now that politicians, good and bad, Democratic or Republican, use their goods to please the masses. It’s all part of the political machine. In the wise words of Ice-T, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
Name Calling: Idiot, stupid, dumb, expletive, expletive, expletive. None of these insults should be heard among peers in political discussion. Unless, of course, your peers are a group of foul-mouthed first-graders.
Role Playing: You are not the President and if I know you well enough, you aren’t ever going to be the President. If you were, you would likely cry yourself to sleep before your second week in office. Stop making the job of any political leader sound easy by telling me what you would or wouldn’t do while ignoring the fact that there would be countless repercussions to consider.
Interrupting: I’m talking. I’m clearly not finished speaking. When I am, you will notice a stop followed by a long pause. Now it’s your turn. If all we do is interrupt each other, we’re never going to get …