Politics these days isn’t merely a hot-button topic – it would be more accurate to call it a blazing-volcanic-atomic-button-of pure-hellfire. As Election Day draws near, the discussions have become less civil, the blows lower, the tolerance nearly nonexistent.
Worst of all is how personal it’s become. People think nothing of trashing both friends and total strangers simply because they pull a different lever on the voting machine. One teacher in Philadelphia teased a student in class for wearing a Romney t-shirt, telling her to take it off. Nice lesson in civics and kindness, teach.
Someone once asked me – mere minutes after we’d met – how “anyone with any intelligence” could possibly belong to my particular party. On another occasion, he threatened to paint a symbol of his favorite politician on my face. Mind you, he knew almost nothing else about me. Lots of folks say I’m a pretty nice person. But all he saw was someone on the other side of the political fence, and that was enough. Case closed, mind closed.
That’s why I applaud Stacey Dash for being brave enough to voice her opinion – knowing it wouldn’t sit well with a lot of people.
The former Clueless costar, the mom of two, tweeted recently, “Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future.” She added a picture of herself sitting in a red car with a large “R” and the name “Dash America” on its side, in front of an American flag.
She might as well have set off a match in a fireworks factory. Tweeters slammed her for her views – one called her a “poor beautiful idiot,” and that was one of the kinder remarks. They implied that she was betraying both her race and her gender, as if a minority woman is obligated to vote only one way. One user even suggested that she commit suicide.
But Dash refuses to back down.
To her haters, she calmly tweeted, “My humble opinion…EVERYONE is entitled to have one.” And she continues to retweet Romney’s messages, as well as supportive tweets from fans.
In doing so, Dash is sending a vital message of her own to someone very special – her 8-year-old daughter, Lola.
By now, Lola’s probably heard about the bashing her mom is getting from people who don’t know her. Maybe her mother has already discussed it with her in a quiet sit-down. Either way, she’s finding out the nature of politics and the people who have opinions about it.
She’s also finding out why it’s so important to stay true to yourself, even when others disagree with you – not just on politics, but on other matters as well. As she grows up, she’ll face issues surrounding her own identity as a multiracial woman. Knowing what her mother has gone through, Lola may be tempted to keep her own views quiet. Why invite trouble?
We can only hope that she won’t. With any luck, she’ll follow her mom’s example and defy the haters. But if we keep spewing hatred and intolerance at our fellow Americans – especially parents who have a future generation to raise – we’re going to make it harder for children like Lola to take pride in and stick up for their beliefs.
We’re all in this country together. The least we can do is try to see our countrymen (and women) as human beings who want the best for their families as much as we do, even if we don’t agree on the best way to get there. Let’s use our freedom of speech to build up rather than to destroy.
Stay strong, Stacey Dash. Your daughter will thank you for it.
And, oh, yes: This post was brought to you by a mom and a Democrat.
[Photos: via Twitter]
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