Who remembers keeping politics mum?

Author: Tiny Texas Town

In the 1970’s my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were serious about politics, but it was a complicated thing.  First off, you voted.  It was not a right or a privilege, it was a part of being a member of society.  It was just DONE.  Second off, there was no discussion about who a person voted for – at least not much.  Uncle Jerry was a Yellow Dog Democrat.  All others in the family were assumed to be and to vote for Republicans in state and national elections, though they were registered Democrats because the local elections were all organized, held by, and concerned with registered Democrats.  I assume this was because in that tiny, white Texas town everyone used to be Democrats before JFK’s actions and perspectives aligned blacks with the Democratic ticket.  Then the big flip happened, but local political monikers somehow failed to flip.

Politics were not just un-interesting. Asking who someone who they voted for was taboo in the same way that asking someone’s age or weight was taboo.  You don’t ask a rancher the size of his herd.  You didn’t ask, “Hey! Who’d you vote for?”  It was none of your damned business.

Why was this?

I’ve been cogitating on this a good deal over the last week and I think I might just know the answer – or at least part of the answer.  When you name who you voted for, you have selected a team and you may feel like you should root for them.  You have backed a candidate and maybe you need to defend them (or at least defend your own choice).  What happens when that person makes egregious errors?  Saying you cast that vote in error is hard.  This situation makes it nearly impossible to have a real conversation about how good or bad the person does in office because you have a vested interest and have to save face.

Imagine what it would be like if no one told each other who they voted for.  Then there would be no face-saving necessary!  The entire group could discuss what’s happening without picking teams.  When an obvious error is made, everyone could discuss it without feeling like they’re somehow a traitor to their team; there aren’t teams.  We’re all citizens and being able to discuss what wonderful or terrible choices our elected officials make has nothing to do with picking sides.

This is how I remember my grandparents’ politics.  This is how they could have disagreement and still discuss – they weren’t defending their own teams, they were discussing world events as concerned citizens with an open mind and trying to find a way forward.

{Top image credit: The Earthy Report}