I've been working with the grassroots McCain movement for months, but I have dutifully kept my personal politics out of my personal life. Where I live (east of Seattle), Republicans are 'scarcer than hens' teeth' and it can be a very lonely existence to be the only person in the Bunko group, the playgroup, the coffeehouse who sees the world the 'Right' way. It's bad enough to come home to an anti-McCain newspaper, Obama info-mercials delaying the World Series (!), and TV news anchors who "get a tingle up their leg" when The One dares to speak. Even the most diehard McCainiacs like yours truly sometimes just need a break.
Usually my much-needed break is provided by my preschool Moms' group, which sponsors fun, free low-key events. Then I made the mistake of checking this month's Mommy Book Club selection: The Audacity of Hope. My initial reaction cannot be printed here (it involved Kool-Aid, pinheads, and some choice words not suitable for a family blog).
Now, in the great scheme of things, this is a minor event. BUT it raised major questions for me. I've been part of this group for almost 5 years, I've been on their board, I've raised thousands of dollars for them. How could the group that was supposed to be my oasis from political negativity turn out to be so lopsided? Why would they alienate any of their members (half? a third? even a couple?) to prove a political point? Would I, or anyone else, find the courage to speak up, and what would be the response if I did? Would I be praised for bringing another viewpoint, or ostracized for daring to speak out? Why didn't any of my "real life" friends have the courage to call me and tell me themselves that my viewpoint wasn't welcome - OR was sorely needed?
Good girl that I am, I took that amalgam of emotions and slept on it. Yesterday morning I sent a succinct, polite email, referencing the group's announcement that "a variety of viewpoints would be welcome." I explained that I couldn't leave my little ones for a 4-hour wine-soaked Obama Lovefest on a Monday night, but anyone who genuinely wanted an alternative viewpoint was welcome to read my blog. Only one person responded, with a surprisingly liberal diatribe about how she didn't like one of McCain's economic advisors and how he would magically take away her health insurance (um, not really). She was civil, but I'll never really think of her in the same way knowing that's how she sees the world.
I knew when I started this blog that I was putting myself out on a limb. I didn't fear the sort of violence and harassment caused by Obama supporters around the country, but I knew I couldn't 'make an omelette without breaking some eggs.' I know plenty of non-McCain supporters who are and will remain my friends, I'm just surprised at which eggs got broken in this process and why. Can't intelligent people disagree without being called stupid or insensitive or irresponsible? Evidently, if you're an Obama supporter, the answer is no.
I share this not to evoke pity or to scare any of you from sharing what you truly believe. Speaking the truth is not always easy or convenient, but it IS important. Give people the facts and let them decide, but equally important, practice what you preach. When it comes to genuinely changing minds, you "gotta put up or shut up."
If you truly believe John McCain is the right choice for President, have the courage to say that. Say it in writing, say it on your answering machine, say it to anyone who will listen - and even some you think won't listen. Don't be obnoxious, be sincere, open the door and you may be surprised who walks through. I can't promise it will feel good right away. Cause frankly, it may not. But the reward when you make a difference is a thousand times worth it. I, for one, am willing to endure a little awkwardness to support a man who can restore accountability and pride in my country. (And really, compared to what McCain has given for his country, a couple of nasty emails is a small price to pay.)
If speaking politically intimidates you (and I'll admit it, it intimidates me), come join a group of like-minded McCain Moms to get real-life ideas and suggestions for how you can make a difference. Email moms4mccain at yahoo dot com and I'll help you gets started. There is still time to change minds, and if you are reading this, John McCain and your country need you now. Most of us will never serve our country under fire, will never give thousands of dollars, will never work in Washington. But we CAN make a difference - if we say what needs to be said.