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Yeah! A Nice Political Discussion!

Miracles do happen. A recently released book confirms it. But let me lay some groundwork before I get to that:

I am a political agnostic, choosing to steer clear of any and all dialogue about “what this country needs” because so much of what’s said these days is full of vitriol, diatribe, and arrogance.

It seems there is no “we” in our political conversations. ┬áIt’s an all-out ideological war. I–and, according to the book, many others–have lost faith in those who claim to be working toward the common good. What we see of them makes them look like a bunch of liars, cheats, and oversized egos.

So when my brother recommended a book written by an outspoken Democrat and a loyal Republican, my first reaction was “Ewww…” But he kept telling me how much he was enjoying the book, so finally I gave in and took a look.

America, You Sexy Bitch has the subtitle “A Love Letter to Freedom.” The authors? As described on the book flap, they are “a married, forty-year-old, gun-fearing, atheist, Democrat comedian, the son of a lesbian Social Security employee” and “a single, twentysomething, gun-loving, Christian, Republican writer and blogger and daughter of a Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee. Thus began my journey with Michael Ian Black and Megan McCain.

And literally, it was a journey. The book is about a trip they took together across America. Barely knowing each other, they agreed to do a month-long, cross-country tour…much of it in an old RV…to find out what everyday Americans think of “the state of the Union.”

In addition to talking to everyone from cowboys to strippers to anarchists and touring everything from Graceland to the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas, they end up talking to each other. A lot.

And that is what is so priceless about this book. It is an honest dialogue between two very different people about what they believe and why they believe it that ends with them being honest-to-god friends.

The great thing about reading it as a book is the perfect balance between the two sets of ideas. Megan writes an entry. Then Michael writes an entry. Some of them have to do with what they are doing or seeing at the point in the trip. Some of them are about what each feels and thinks about a particular issue. Some of them are about tiffs between them or problems on the road. But none of them are a rant about the wrongness of the other or the stupidity of a given point of view.

I’m not sure which I treasured most–their honesty, the two different styles of humor, or the respect they gave each other in the book they created. What an incredible breath of fresh air.

The two of them have gotten me thinking about my own stubbornness regarding politics, too. I shut down when someone starts to push their political agenda whether it’s a meeting with casual acquaintances or hiking with dear friends. I want to believe that common courtesy requires far less of this kind of discourse than we have.

But maybe that’s not as good a solution as I thought. When I step back and tune out, I lose the opportunity to hear what someone else is thinking about some issue. I lose the chance to expand my own grasp of what’s going on by adding that person’s perspective to what I already know.

I’d like to believe that every politician just needs to read this book and they will be healed of the “we/they” toxicity that’s so pervasive right now. That’s not likely. But at least I know now that two outspoken members of the opposing parties can have a real conversation.

 

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