My stance: Keep quiet

The Covington News - - Sunday Living -

Y’all keep ask­ing when I plan to write a col­umn about pol­i­tics. It’s such a hot topic, one that is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to fam­i­lies. It only seems nat­u­ral that I’d chime in with my be­liefs, right?

Maybe it’s a sign that I’m get­ting old, but I’ve de­cided that even if it kills me, even if I have to sit on my hands to keep from typ­ing, I will not use this space to write about my per­sonal po­lit­i­cal view­points. It’s not that I don’t have strong opin­ions — I do. But I’ve seen what’s hap­pened to other writ­ers who’ve gone there. Our na­tion is so po­lar­ized; the end re­sult is usu­ally quite ugly.

Watch­ing my older sis­ter get into trou­ble when we were kids taught me that some­times the best thing to do is the op­po­site of what every­one else is do­ing. I have also learned, more of­ten than I care to ad­mit, that it’s much eas­ier to hold one’s words than to chase them around in a panic later, try­ing to re­pair their dam­age.

I was pas­sion­ately vo­cal about my fa­vorite can­di­date dur­ing the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, some­thing which cost me a few friends. I didn’t know when to zip my lips. It was a dif­fi­cult way to learn that friend­ships are worth so much more than rep­re­sent­ing the winning team at the end of an elec­tion.

It’s funny to look back now and re­al­ize that I truly liked th­ese peo­ple un­til we talked about pol­i­tics. I dare say we even re­spected each other. But then some­body said some­thing in jest, and some­one else replied, and re­spect was vi­o­lently drowned by hot-headed de­bate. It tore us apart. And four years later, I’m here to tell you — it wasn’t worth it.

So why do we do it, for candidates who don’t even know we ex­ist? Has any­one truly ever been swayed by the strong po­lit­i­cal rant­ings of an­other? Maybe it’s hap­pened, maybe there re­ally is a Sasquatch, but I’ve never seen ei­ther. Most of us are so stub­bornly en­trenched in what we be­lieve that we can­not — will not — see the other side’s view­point no mat­ter how strongly it’s pre­sented.

I be­lieve that some peo­ple still run for of­fice be­cause they care deeply about im­prov­ing their world. But I’ve had sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with politi­cians. Only one of them ever made a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion on me.

The oth­ers were pompous and un­ap­proach­able, with the sick­en­ing air of elit­ist su­pe­ri­or­ity. An­other was like those sour can­dies with a su­per-sweet shell, but be­neath the sur­face, noth­ing but tart bit­ter­ness in­side. They used me and my cause to fur­ther their agen­das when the cam­eras were rolling. Then they van­ished when we ac­tu­ally needed their help.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing that was good for me. It showed me that though we tend to put politi­cians on the same plat­form as su­per­stars, they’re just or­di­nary peo­ple. Some truly have a heart for ser­vice. But many run for of­fice for purely selfish rea­sons, and it isn’t al­ways easy to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the two. Be­cause of that, it isn’t worth sac­ri­fic­ing my per­sonal and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships over their agen­das.

If I told you that I felt the Obama/Bi­den ticket was the one to sup­port in Novem­ber, would it change the way you think of me? If I were to say that I think McCain and Palin are best suited for the job, would you la­bel me an­other way? You might not want to, but on some level, you would. Yet at the end of the day, would it re­ally mat­ter? I am no one spe­cial, sorely lack­ing the po­lit­i­cal ex­per­tise to share in-depth com­men­tary on the is­sues fac­ing us to­day.

What I do have is the right to vote with my con­vic­tions, as do all Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. I sin­cerely be­lieve that’s enough.

Some would say re­fus­ing to com­ment is the cow­ard’s way of han­dling this. Maybe that’s true. But some­one much wiser than I, King Solomon, I be­lieve it was, said that there’s wis­dom in re­main­ing si­lent.

I haven’t quite mas­tered that wis­dom thing yet. But hey, I’m try­ing.

I’m Kari Apted and I ap­proved this mes­sage.

Kari Apted may be reached at kari@kari­

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