Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Awkward Political Conversations

Talking politics with friends feels like a minefield to me. Many of my friends have strong views, which fall all along the spectrum of political thought. My own positions are idiosyncratic—I don't adhere to one party line. Perhaps because of that, I'm almost always nervous about discussing politics.

I'm basically a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. Sometimes that puts me in sync with moderate Republicans, other times with centrist Democrats. I like to think I'm a tolerant, moderate person, but also one who believes in free markets and fears too much government. Sometimes my views lead me to support Democratic candidates, other times Republicans. Being from Massachusetts, that independent inclination has usually put me in the minority, until recently at least.

Over the years, I've felt compelled to explain that even though I don't believe in some government entitlement programs, this doesn't mean I don't care about the poor and disadvantaged. Actually, most of my explanations have taken place in my mind. I'm almost always too uncomfortable to reveal my views openly, lest I be judged uncaring.

President Obama has said that his health care bill should be enacted because it's the "right thing to do." I also really want government to do the right thing for the country on this issue. Virtually everyone I know feels strongly about health care, but in some cases that means they support the bill and in other cases they're opposed.

One friend who knows we may disagree has nevertheless urged me to discuss health care reform with her. I appreciate her receptiveness and I've even shared some of my thoughts with her. In general though, I like to avoid conflict, so find political conversations awkward—there's almost always a mine lurking somewhere in the discussion, ready to explode in my face.


  1. I hope, now that you've told a little about where you stand, that you'll feel more comfortable sharing your wisdom. And I hope I do too. I've always been surrounded by people who want the government to fix everything, except themselves, of course. (I'm guess 'themselves' could refer to either the government or the people, which is good.)

  2. You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear both you express opinions that for some reason have become politically incorrect. I have never been all one sided. I've jogged back and forth between Democrat and Republican through the years, but now our state (Washington) makes us choose one or the other in the primary. Sometimes when I'm with my many ultra liberal friends, I find myself fearful of saying too much lest I offend them.

  3. --Talk of a major problem! We have regional elections in this country (France) this month, and I have been unable to make up my mind as to whom I wish least to gain power over our everyday lives! Seems like I am not the only one, as over 50% of the voters did not even bother to go to the polls in the first round last week....
    Would this be a generational thing, that after being so more self-assured in the sixties we are now more .... or less.... whatever, now that we are in our sixties?
    So thank you for reassuring me that I am not the only one who swings back and forth, politically - now I can stop feeling guilty!