"Whoever first said religion and politics shouldn't be discussed among friends laid the first brick in a wall of misunderstanding that's been growing every time the topic is avoided between families, friends, and neighbors..."This year's Dream Cruise started Friday, August 17 at 5PM. Tiffani made the family "Gagne for Mayor" tee-shirts all four of us wore to the opening ceremonies. We stood as conspicuously close to the stage as we could so everyone taking pictures or looking at it would see us. A little good-natured self promotion never hurt anybody.
That evening Tiffani and I ended up at Buffalo Wild Wings for a Boys' and Girls' Club fund raiser. Craig Covey, the other Ferndale mayoral candidate, sat between Tiffani and I (still wearing our tee-shirts). Later Mayor Bob Porter joined us.
I want everyone to picture this--because it happened. Two candidates for the same position, joined by the current mayor and Tiffani, having drinks together, getting our fingers dirty eating chicken wings, congenially talking politics with each other. Heck, I probably had a piece of black pepper between my teeth, but no one seemed to mind (or let me know).
Craig and I have a lot in common. Not the least of which is our commitment to keep our campaigns' rhetoric positive. Neither of us believes dirty politics, name calling, slandering, or anything else of the sort reflects who we are, what we want our campaigns to be, or does anything positive for Ferndale. We agreed that both of us can control what we say,but we can't control what folks on the edges might say. We also agreed neither of us would take it personally when that might happen.
Councilman Covey said he looks forward to being Ferndale's first openly-gay mayor and I told him I look forward to being Ferndale's first openly-straight mayor. We both laughed, toasted, and went back to eating wings with Tiffani and Mayor Porter.
I'm fairly confident we can all think of other politicians we wish would share a pizza, some pops, discuss the issues, and go home understanding a little more about the other person, agree to disagree on some points, and leave the table as colleagues without hard feelings toward each other, or each others' parties.
Can you imagine Granholm and DeVos eating messy hamburgers dripping mustard on their chins or suit coats? Or Bush and Pelosi making slurping noises over hot and sour soup? How about Ted Kennedy and Newt Gingrich with spaghetti hanging from their mouth?
I can't either. But I encourage all of you to imagine yourselves talking about the upcoming election with your neighbors, family, or people you meet while out-on-the-town. Encourage them to vote. Encourage them to learn about the candidates (especially me). Encourage them to share their thoughts. Listen to what they say and ask questions.
Politics should not be a taboo topic. Whoever first said religion and politics shouldn't be discussed among friends laid the first brick in a wall of misunderstanding that's been growing every time the topic is avoided between families, friends, and neighbors or when someone invokes the "religion and politics" rule to stifle political discussion. When we avoid the topic or leave angry we either imitate the worst behavior of our politicians or encourage it.
Walls keep ideas out as much as they keep others in. Good ideas aren't so fragile they require walls to protect them. Twenty years ago President Reagan challenged, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" In the coming weeks before this year's November 6 election let's tear down our own.
Cross posted at GagneForMayor.com.
Related article: Splitting the baby over politics.