A Letter to Republicans From An Obama Supporter: Everyday Magic, Day 645

Dear Republican friends and readers,

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I promise that I’m not writing to gloat, but to reach out to you. First, my sincere wishes for comfort and peace if you truly believe in Romney and now feel a little or a lot despair. I know how this feels from past elections, and even more so, from living in a state (Kansas) where the most conservative wing of the Republican party controls much of our state government and does all kinds of things that hurt my heart and go against my convictions.

I’m writing you because the polarization in our country — that puts you on one side and me on the other, and that is turbocharged by politics-as-usual, ratings-driven mass media, and pundits on both sides (some that give me guilty pleasures, and some that please you) — rips apart the ground for real dialogue. Infused with fear on all sides, this polarization makes us scared of each others’ strategies, plans and motives. Furthermore, it dehumanizes the candidates into caricatures of extremes. I believe it is the outrageous money velcroed to politics, media and other institutions that turns good people into attack dogs and away from each other.

If we engage in true bipartisan and civil dialogue and, at the same time, vote with our feet when it comes to not further fanning the flames of big-hype-demonization (click the mouse or turn the channel to something more thoughtful than which-candidate-gets-the-magic-rose dramas), we can step onto both new and old ground for real progress. It’s new ground in comparison to where we are now but old ground when you consider politicians who truly reached across the aisle more 20, even 10 years ago (Bob Dole, for example).

What does real dialogue look like? More listening without trying to change someone’s point-of-view. Less buzz words. More vulnerability and willingness to explain why, how and what. Less sound bites or easy dismissals. More acceptance that compromising on practical solutions doesn’t mean compromising on our values, but it’s simply part of the human dynamic of two steps back, three steps forward in how to compassionately engage in conflict. A recognition of how hard change is for all of us, how much is always at stake, and most of all, how overlapping our deepest beliefs and callings truly are.

Mitt Romney, in his concession speech, said:

The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work, and we citizens also have to rise to occasion. We look to our teachers and professors. We count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: Honesty, charity, integrity, and family. We look to our parents. Fromm the final analysis, everything depends on the success of our homes. We look to job-creators of all kinds. We’re counting on you to invest, to hire, to step forward, and we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.

Barack Obama, in his acceptance speech, said:

I’ve never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism. The kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside of us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching to keep working, to keep fighting.

Despite and because all each said when attacking the other’s plans, strategies, beliefs and histories, the statements they made last night have a special weight, the kind that reminds us to look toward how our culture is composed, held together, and changed, and how much real hope depends on everyday words and deeds.

Finally, as I know many moderate Republicans who feel alienated from their own party or at least mightily marginalized, I wish you all well in growing a bigger tent where you can fully engage in sharing and working through your differences with each other and the Democratic party. For those of you who feel fully at home in your party, just like I do in the Democratic party, I wish the kind of openness and reaching out that welcomes true dialogue, diversity and real wrangling with conflict.

What matters most, in the end, is how we speak to and care for one another; how we reach out beyond habitual patterns to foster greater kindness in the world. With sincere sweetest wishes for all,

~ Caryn

7 thoughts on “A Letter to Republicans From An Obama Supporter: Everyday Magic, Day 645

  1. Well, here’s my own comment on my own post: I completely forgot (as someone wisely pointed out) to speak to Independent voters and possibilities, and actually, I would very much welcome a more-than-two party system, in which wealth and spending wouldn’t bind us just to the same-old, same-old. One way to move toward this would be campaign reform (and spending limits), although obviously hard to move forward on when the parties that control congress would then be voting against their own interests at times.

  2. Great l (and much needed) letter, Caryn! People are diverse, it’s one of the most amazing thing about us. But we should never be duped into believing that we are so fundamentally different that we cannot or should not work together. There are valid solutions from both sides and from the voices of the lesser-funded parties. I dream of the day when I feel our nation is being run by a group of concerned individuals, with varying backgrounds and beliefs, who may not always agree on how to support the people, but at least agree that all people are equally instrumental to the vitality of our country.

  3. An Ok letter. Was wondering what your feelings were regarding the extremes on YOUR side of the aisle? You seem to have a strong opinion about the most conservative side of the Republicans but what is your opinion on the furthest left? Also why is it wrong to defend your convictions? A conviction is a conviction right? Or are there wrong ones and right ones? You mention that your convictions have been hurt. Don’t you think the furthest on the right have convictions at well? Your letter fails to portray the tolerance you espouse.

  4. Hi Randy — Thanks so much for your comments, and I agree with you. I almost wrote a paragraph on just this, citing both Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh, but in the interest in keeping the post readable length, I didn’t. The Left is as guilty as the Right in fanning the flames of labeling each other, and I cringe sometimes at what my peeps are saying (although I’m guilty at times of enjoying one-sided views that mirror mine at times, and I’m trying to look at this reaction too and learn from it).

    But I’m not saying it’s wrong in any way whatsoever to defend your convictions; in fact, I say the opposite: to listen to people with the intention of truly understanding what they’re saying, and here is where I’m thinking of people at the extreme right and extreme left and all over the middle. One thing that’s essential for true dialogue is to listen to each other without the intention of “I’m-right-and-I-will-convince-you” all the time, but instead, “here’s-what-I-believe-and-please-hear-me.” One example from another angle: I have some Evangelical Christian friends who have very different faith ideas/beliefs than me, and I realize that my there’s-many-ways-to-reach-God philosophy/understanding doesn’t work for people who believe there is one way. It would be disrespectful for me to put them down for not seeing what I see, and so I try to really just listen and witness what they’re saying. My whole point is how we can cultivate the ability to simply listen to each other, to say, for example, “I understand you really supported Romney, so tell me your reasons in detail without only focusing on insulting Obama” or “Here’s why I support Obama, and I’ll tell you without trashing Romney.”

  5. As an Independent (born in Kansas living in East Texas) – who sometimes feels she is swimming in a sea of Republican friends your post was both encouraging and well stated.

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