So, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they’re thinking of electing a new president.
Of course you’ve heard. You couldn’t have missed it, with all the shouting from both sides (we are a nation of equal opportunity meanies). Some of the vitriol I’ve seen and read has made me feel suddenly less alarmed by the scuffles that sometimes erupt in the back of my mini-van.
I know you’ve heard of political correctness, the idea of conducting yourself in a way to "minimize offense". You might think that notion was invented by the media, or sociologists. But you would be wrong.
It was invented by Southern women.
We’ve made "minimizing offensiveness" an art form. We do it all day. We are trained to do it at our mothers’ knees. In fact, I remember, quite distinctly, my parents telling me never, ever to bring up politics or money in conversation unless you were absolutely certain where the other person stood. And even then, you should proceed carefully.
Since I have received such fine training myself, I thought I would offer up the following to the Whole Entire Internet, Or At Least The Portion That Blogs About Politics.
1. Do not make assumptions that the person you’re talking with must vote a certain way because of her gender, race, religion, or shoe size. That simply tells your conversation partner that you don’t think she’s smart enough to make up her own mind, and that is just plain tacky. Anyway, you know what they say about assumptions….well, I’ll let you look that one up on your own.
2. To expand on #1, when you begin a political discussion with a stranger or acquaintance, do not launch into a tirade about how horrible Senator Joe Don is, because this stranger might be voting for Joe Don. Heck, your stranger might have a Daddy whose old football coach once had his hair cut by Joe Don’s niece. It is the South, you know.
3. Name calling is completely, always inappropriate. But if you really feel you must throw around words such as "socialist" and "radical right-wing nut-job", it would soften things a bit if you would insert a "bless his heart" at the end of sentence.
4. When you go to the polls in November, please do not wear white shoes, because that is after Labor Day. It has nothing to do with politics, but I just needed to squeeze it in.
5. Do not blanket statements of fact: "ALL Republicans are money-hungry," or "ALL Democrats are overly emotional," or "All Texans have big hair." Blanket statements are almost never true, and they just make the speaker sound desperate and uninformed. And anyway, I’ve known plenty of Texans whose hair size was only slightly above average.
6. It’s okay to disagree with someone and still like them. Even if they’re voting for the Other Guy, or–worse–cheering for the University of Texas football team. (I know. I’m bagging on Texas a little. They’re big, they can handle it.)
7. Be charming. If you find yourself utterly and completely annoyed, then make a joke. If charming doesn’t work, head straight for that great old friend of Southern women, passive-aggressiveness. You could even, perhaps, and I’m speaking purely hypothetically here, write a blog post about it…