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My husband and I are fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with his company on convention once a year.  This year:  the lovely town of Sintra, Portugal, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

We were so excited about our trip.  This was a photographer's dream!  Well, excited and apprehensive, knowing we would be spending a week with 100 conservative financial planners, our first convention with this group since the election of Barack Obama.

This is a story about conservative mentality and the futility of bi-partisanship in the health care debate...

In past years, traveling with these people, we've often gotten into political "discussions".  As far as I know, my husband and I are the only democrats among them.  And we've always had a pact between us...we will not start anything, but when the inevitable comments are made, neither will we keep our mouths shut.  And these discussions always ended with laughter and hugging and lots of "I love you!"s.  We were the naive liberals...ha, ha, so cute but so wrong! But this year I begged my husband to resist.  I knew they would be angry and bitter and didn't want our trip ruined with a confrontation.

Here's how it usually starts with this gang:  snide comment made,  maybe something about Nancy Pelosi.  I try to ignore.  More comments, teasing and bringing up something controversial.  I feel the anger rising. Rush Limbaugh talking points introduced.  Hubby engages, while I'm kicking and pinching him under the table.  Finally, insults hurled...now I've taken the bait!  "Communist!" always infuriates me!

From day one, the tone of this meeting was different.  Several men made sneering comments about democrats and their teasing now had a malicious edge to it. Despite our best intentions, after  dinner one night,  we found ourselves in a heated argument with one of our associates about healthcare.  Yada, yada, yada...people with cadillac insurance (mostly pro-life christians, of course), in a swanky resort in Portugal during a recession, blaming the tired, the poor, the huddled masses for all the problems. I kept trying to educate him:  45 million without healthcare, pre-existing conditions, cost, exclusions, (unnecessary deaths, you A-hole!).  Sadly, even his wife  was unmoved.  Eventually my husband asked "well, what's your solution, then?"  Answer:  "I'll tell you tomorrow."

Tomorrow came and went.  It was the day of the "formal night".

That morning I begged my husband...please, no politics tonight. I'm a political junkie but still, all dressed up in a little black dress, sometimes I just don't feel like it. The formal night is always like entering an alternate universe. There were diamonds and tuxes, $500 purses, even Angelina Jolie's green dress!  I felt underdressed...I was wearing the same dress as last year...hey, we're in a recession!  But we managed to get through the evening without a ruckus, despite the fact that the man sitting next to me mentioned Clinton (!) a few times and the woman on the other side confided she was "into politics".

I have to admit I'm part of the problem.  Over the past 8 years I have barely been able to stifle my contempt for anyone who supported Bush and the Iraq War. Being told that  Bush was "the greatest president ever!" just makes my blood boil.  And I do love my husband, but he can be an instigator. Still, you have to pick your battles, right?

After dinner, in the bar, we were talking with a couple we had just met.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see another associate who we have often sparred with, making a beeline to us.  I whisper to hubby..."don't start anything!".  He's thinking of later...wants to be good!  Our drunk associate...I'll call him Ken, from New Orleans...tells the other couple "I love these two...we don't agree on anything but I still love them!"   Hubby tries to distract Ken with asking about his activities after Katrina when he delivered food and supplies to stranded people.   Ooops.  A diatribe ensues: Blanco, people who depend on government, then contradicts himself with "but how were poor people supposed to get out?" The next thing to come out of his mouth  made me sick.  "I know this is gonna sound terrible, but only a thousand people died."

OH MY GOD.

I could taste the bile in my throat.  My heart was pounding.   Yet still I was determined not to have a fight.

So, I say to hubby, let's go.  NO, NO, NO, everyone says.  OK I'll stay.  But within 5 minutes Ken manages to call me a communist, a socialist, more radical than your husband and yes, even a fascist!  That's  when we finally did leave.

We didn't attend the closing night dinner.  How liberating!  Yet, I felt blue.

Thanks to the SCREAMING heads, people who used to be friends are now adversaries.  Because there's no gray area with these people...you're either with them or against them.   Trying to have a conversation is futile...it quickly descends into insults and name calling. They have theirs and they don't care about anyone else.   I used to be able to find some common ground with republicans, but now I'm convinced that the conservative movement seriously lacks a soul.  They lost it when they decided to follow Rush over the cliff.

About a week ago, my husband crossed paths with Ken.  How's Dee, he asks?  Hubby informs him "she's mad at you".  "Really, why?"  A few days later, I receive a letter from Ken.  Here's what he wrote:

Dee,

I just wanted to drop a note to you to apologize for our last meeting in Portugal.  I really do enjoy our friendship, even though we disagree on the way we all need to get where we want to go in our country. You are a very intelligent lady, so I guess I gravitate to having you challenge me. Then, the competitor in me wants to win. (Probably the wine did not help!) In any case, I hope we can get back to where we were.  

Your friend,

Ken (Big Dog)

So, where do Big Dog and I go from here?  If it weren't for our business relationship, we would not be friends.

Recently, we also received an e-mail from another associate:

Yo Steve,

Occasionally I'll get an email from you at my business email and I was hoping to get on your list for the hot, politically charged, left-leaning stuff that I know you must send around. I used to count on my sister for such things but I'm afraid she's mellowed and I no longer receive the good stuff anymore.  Anyway, at least 4 times a day I can count on "blank" to send/forward ultra right-wing crap that is mostly harmless but sometimes makes my flesh crawl. You know, racist, hate-mongering shit that...well, kind of bugs me. Every now and then I'd like to send something back to him, and everyone else on his distribution list, that may open their eyes, but more than likely would just irritate and bug the shit out of them.  I figure you're the man for the job. Between you and Dee I'll bet you could forward on some smart/funny/scathing stuff that I'd love to read and perhaps share with our less-than-enlightened friends. Until the last 6 or 7 years I've considered myself a Republican but have since felt pushed further and further left until the sound of Rush or Sean is like nails on a chalkboard. For the first time in recent memory I do not cringe when my president speaks, and am proud as hell of how he is performing on the world stage.
Anyway, I didn't mean to bare my soul, but I'm hoping you can help out with some good stuff to circulate, not stuff that doesn't hold up to a Snopes check, but smart, mildly offensive, anti-right wing stuff. You know what I mean. Can you help?

Beautiful, huh? So, whataya do?  Some of these people are good-hearted...they just need to be educated.  But I find myself terribly conflicted.  Should I write a letter back to Ken?  Would it do any good?  What would I say?   I'm so tired of it all, yet I know in my heart that one by one we're changing the world (and I thank each and every one of you for your commitment and persistence).  Still, sigh, I wanna go back to painting.....

Leaving Portugal, as I look out the window, I see hundreds of wind turbines scattered throughout the countryside.  

http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

"Know thy enemy and know thy self and you will win a hundred battles"
Sun Tzu Wu, The Art of War

Originally posted to Fury on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:22 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  "Dear Ken, No. (27+ / 0-)

      You may be a Big Dog, but I am not a fire hydrant.  Go lift your leg on that downed power line over there."

      "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

      by Limelite on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:08:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •   Not all conservatives are like that (7+ / 0-)

      and not all libs are angels. We went to a party of a friend in SF and we all had conversation starter name tags. Mine was "I voted for Bush". The two militant libs (who happened to be lesbians) dumped all their hatred for conservatives around anti gay marriage on me.

      It was our friends engagement party and I just didnt want to get into it. I joked that were liberals supposed to be tolerant and they really didnt like that.

      I for one am fine with gay marriage, Im fine with people having abortions and Im ok with nationalized health care. I do believe it will crash our healthcare system, but it will take several decades and until then it will actually be pretty nice. We can always re-privatize it again until we find the right balance.

      No one is happy that a thousand people died during katrina, but I have been heard to say 3K people dying in a terrorist attack is not a reason to give up our civil liberties.

      •  I don't know about "crashing the healthcare (6+ / 0-)

        system".  It seems pretty broken to me.  But I agree that more tolerance on both sides is a good idea.  They just seem much more mean-spirited and their rhetoric is very scary at times. When people are being killed because they're democrats, then it's time for all of us to say "that's enough" to friends and family as well as business associates.  

      •  There is still room for polite conversation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fury

        Although I disagree with your conclusion about crashing the health care system (see that was polite). But really, people should exercise some restraint--social gatherings such as engagement parties are not the place to go nuclear on others because of political differences. For one thing, they are about the people who invited one, and all of their guests should be respected if one wishes to honor those for whom the occasion was gathered. Put another way, it is your duty as a guest to restrain from unpleasantness, because it is not your party and you don't get to cry if you want to (see Brenda Lee song).

        If one tries, one will usually find some common ground for conversation--often this proves more persuasive of ones viewpoint than confrontation anyway, and is always more fun..

        Yes we did, yes we will. President Obama

        by marketgeek on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:14:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  TXconservative, they treated you badly, but... (0+ / 0-)

        I recently had a discussion with a woman about ways that men oppress women. She at no time blamed me for the actions of other men. That was fair -- she had no evidence that I was part of the problem.

        On the other hand, I would NOT expect a rape victim to be entirely fair in talking to me about the ways in which men oppress women! She's been brutally harmed by someone who looks like me, and typically has been treated with contempt by a whole set of other people who look like me and who even claim me as being one of them. Asking for dispassionate fairness from a person in that situation would be grossly unreasonable.

        Therefore, we who are distanced from an issue ought to cut a LOT of slack for people who are living the issue and who have been directly harmed by the issue. Similarly, those who have been harmed should try to be careful not to blame everyone who looks like or (on the surface) sounds like the people who harmed them. But the person who wasn't harmed has more of a responsibility here, IMO.

        So to conclude, you didn't deserve being dumped on like that -- at least not without saying more than just that you voted for Bush. But I hope that you can understand where they are coming from. Think of their reaction as being like all of the hatred and rage being spewed by Faux news and Rush Limbaugh, except that they responded to REAL HARM that they had PERSONALLY experienced, not the frequently faked harm to others that Faux News and Limbaugh go on about.

  •  I do believe... (30+ / 0-)

    that what we do here, without exaggeration, saves lives.  I am honored to be even a small part of it.  But I'm just so sick of these hypocrites and morons...they seem to be everywhere I turn.  Is it even possible to reach out to someone and make a difference in 200 words or less?  Maybe, maybe not, but I still have to try, right?

  •  It is very sad to me (26+ / 0-)

    when people cannot have a friendly, even loving (in the case of some families) relationship with someone who disagrees with them politically.

    All I can tell you is that it takes two sides to argue.  Someone who you believe is trying to bait you is unsuccessful if you don't rise to the bait.  And you don't have to rise to the bait.  Converting these people is not your responsibility.  Not your problem.  So, there is no need to take that task upon your shoulders.  Let it go.

    It seems to me that "Blue Dog" sent you an appropriate and seemingly sincere apology.  No, he is not converted to your views.  But he doesn't have to be on your side politically to be your friend.  He seems to have admitted that what he said to you was wrong.  If it were me, I would accept that apology in the spirit it was given.

    In the future, my suggestion is that, when someone tries to engage you in a political argument in a setting where that is not appropriate (like at a business gathering), simply say, "Oh, Ken, we know we're not going to agree, and I like you too much to spend the evening arguing, so let's not discuss it. Have you tried the fish?  It's really good . . ." We do that kind of thing at family gatherings, where my family has vehement progressives and the hardest of hard line right wingers.  That's the line, or something like it.  If they keep trying to bait you, just keep repeating, I like you and I just don't feel like arguing with you tonight.  So let's talk about something else." and change the subject.

    Honestly, you really CAN be friendly with people who are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.  

    •  my parents (19+ / 0-)

      are evangelical Christian missionaries who raised me following James Dobson books (no really) and I'm now a lefty liberal marrying an African muslim.  When my folks visit, we have a tacit agreement not to talk politics if at all possible.  I just can't control my temper for one thing and I'd rather spend what little time I have with them (they live on another continent) in some sort of peace.  But it's hard.  Specially when I was getting Obama-is-the-antichrist emails from mom during the elections.

      •  This is my point exactly (10+ / 0-)

        I'd rather spend what little time I have with them (they live on another continent) in some sort of peace

        I have family I love dearly who disagree with me politically.  I don't want to spend my time with them arguing, so I don't discuss politics with them.  I love them too much to spend my time arguing with them.  I have realized long ago that it is not my responsbility to convert them to my views.  

        •  My brother-in-law is (11+ / 0-)

          equally far gone politically, though not very religious. He is a caring human being most of the time. He just buys the whole government is evil, trust the market always for everything line.

          We too just don't talk about politics. He does try political emails now and then and I respond with humorous, non-political items. We can still play golf and drink beer together after 40+ years (we have known each other since high school and neither of us has changed his views).

          My greatest satisfaction was when he suddenly in 2009 registered as a Democrat in PA to vote for Obama in part because he hates the Clintons and in part because he thought that there was no way Obama could get elected President. That is the wrongest he's ever been, I'd say.

          We have only just begun and none too soon.

          by global citizen on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:03:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  In the same boat with my pops (5+ / 0-)

          And he even admitted to other family members that he does his Rush routine just to get my goat. I learned your trick a while back and O mans election was certainly sweet revenge.

          So if you are the Big Tree, We are the small axe, ready to cut you down... to cut you down - Bob Marley

          by SmallAxe on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:13:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  my sister (18+ / 0-)

        I recently visited my 80 year old Mom and step-dad in Kansas. Amazingly for the age and location, they are quite progressive.  They love Keith and Rachel, and they're even totally supportive of my daughter, who has one of the famous 18,000 same-sex marriages in CA.

        It seems my Mom's heart is failing.  I sent an email to my sister suggesting that she might want to consider visiting her (it's been 5 years since she has seen Mom) before things deteriorate to an emergency or worse situation.  This is what she sent back to me:  

        I usually call mom every Sunday or Monday, but since the election I don't know what to say to her.  She voted for a (self admitted) Marxist who in less than six months has nationalized many industries, has quadrupled the national dept, has required congress to vote on massive bills without reading them, etc. He is pushing for nationalizing medical care which is a disaster in countries that have it, and pushing for cap and trade to mitigate the non-existent human caused global warming (a massive tax on energy) while he opposes all drilling in the US or the development of nuclear power.  While pushing for "green" power, he wants to take down all our dams producing hydro-power (at least in the Pacific Northwest). I think within a year, he will declare martial law and confiscate the rest of our industry, God help us all.

        I chose not to respond.  I told her what my observations were.  If upholding Rush's poison rhetoric is more important to her than visiting her Mom before she dies, she'll have to live with that.  I'm done.

    •  True, yet, like I mentioned above, there (10+ / 0-)

      are certain things that just make my blood boil. My husband says it may be a male vs. female thing as well.  According to him, men call each other names all the time...then add alcohol into the mix and anything's likely to happen!

      •  That sounds like what happened to (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian, vgranucci, Fury, Orinoco

        Blue Dog -- something "made his blood boil," alchohol was added, and he got out of control.  He apologized.  It seemed sincere -- he recognized the very thing I advocated -- that we resolve not to spend the time we have with people we like or care about arguing.  That we can recognize that we are never going to convert each other or agree, so we talk about things we can agree on or share.  

        •  It's not as simple as you're trying to make it. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AllisonInSeattle, Fury, Toon

          You can agree that you both like apple pie, but if you disagree on basic beliefs about who and what we are, you've really got nothing to keep it going.  It's too shallow, too meaningless, pointless.

          •  So, there's no point in having a friend, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fury, SmallAxe

            for example, with whom I really like to attend Saints games?  (I'm in New Orleans).  If we both share a passion for Saints football, and we enjoy watching games with each other, and we really really disagree politically, is that one of those "shallow, meaningless, pointless" relationships?  

            I guess I just think I can have friendships based on things other than sharing the same political world view. And that if I want to keep those friendships, sometimes we just have to refuse to let those areas where we disagree intrude.  

        •  It was a sparse apology (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AllisonInSeattle, Fury

          containing neither a statement of what he did wrong nor an expression of regret.

          Blackwater is changing its name to Xe.

          by Toon on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:11:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No, its not a male vs female thing. (7+ / 0-)

        It's about uncontrollable anger. If these people can't manage their feelings, don't let them spew on you.

        John Galt is the new Walter Mitty.

        by Bob Love on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:41:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  your hubby is right about the name calling thing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fury

        It is much more acceptable within male culture to do that (speaking from experience, oldest of 3 boys, frats, sports etc.) we love to call eachother names it's part of the schtick. But we all know it shouldn't carry over to the ladies and Ken certainly knows that as well, sounds like the sauce got to him which isn't an excuse either... hence his apology.

        So if you are the Big Tree, We are the small axe, ready to cut you down... to cut you down - Bob Marley

        by SmallAxe on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:55:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not "male culture" it's a sub-culture (6+ / 0-)

          I've never been with a group of men who called each other nasty names for fun. If I found myself with such a group, I wouldn't stay. In other words, it's not a guy thing in general, it's a guy thing inside some particular sub-culture. And in this case at least, it isn't clear that there was anything in the least friendly about it, nor any real understanding in the "apology".

          •  Indeed. Did anyone listen to the Hubble mission? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aranfell

            Any of NASA TV? The men were complimenting each other every two seconds. Every single one of them. Yes, they knew the world was listening.

            But if their culture was the put-downs, they'd have been proud of it, and been doing that thing.

            Not every culture endorses treating people like this.

            Be good to each other. It matters.

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:32:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  he needs to understand that she & hubby attempted (10+ / 0-)

      to set up boundaries on the political discussions and attempted to prevent volatile disagreements.  He crossed a boundary.  

      Yes, he apologized, but she should also let him know that she is not willing to discuss this any more. It's her boundary and he needs to respect it.

      •  I have no problem with that -- (7+ / 0-)

        If it were my, I think it would be best to express thoughts like this: Thanks for the apology.  I appreciate your thoughts.  Let's agree to disagree on politics and not discuss it any more, so we can remain friends.  

        I wouldn't see much to be gained by trying to force him to grovel (he's already apologized).  A simple, friendly statement saying that she accepts the apology, wants to remain friends, and wants to avoid political discussions in the future seems appropriate to me.  

    •  I disagree. I have been there, many times, in (10+ / 0-)

      the same kinds of situations with the same kind of crowd.  And you can agree that you won't talk politics because you know you don't agree, but that never stops them from doing it anyway.  It always starts with a snide remark, as noted above, and then another one and then another one. And you can say let's not start this again, but that only works for a couple minutes until someone says, "But you've got to admit....".  No I don't.  When the divide is so wide, when what they're saying goes against who you are and what you believe deeply, I think it's best to let go.  To let them go.  For everyone's peace of mind and a more peaceful existence.  
       I have let longtime friendships go for that reason.  We are now on such opposite ends of the spectrum and there seemed to be no truce to be had, and we have nothing in common any more, and I no longer respect who they are as people.  I can't reconcile their thinking, their selfishness and total lack of empathy.  
       My husband's golf buddys still ask, "How's your Communist wife?" hahahahaha.  And that is for being so Communist as to write letters to the editor against the Iraq War and shedding a little truth on Bush's dastardly deeds.  He can play golf with them, but I will no longer waste my time with them.  
       I don't really have political probs with my family, close family anyway, we were all on the Obama bandwagon.  But "friends" who remain staunchly Republican after all we've been through and they can't see it-----best to just walk away.

      •  I've done that myself, as it seems like more than (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AllisonInSeattle, Toon

        mere disagreement these days.  It's being rabidly pro-life yet somehow OK with unnecessary war.  And I've never suffered hypocrites well.  Yes, I too have let some relationships go but these business relationships can be a thorn in the side.  I hear the communist thing all the time as well...sometimes I laugh, sometimes not.  Only human and anyway, they need to know how this affects a person.  Maybe next time Ken is inclined to judge, he'll think, no, that's not right, my good buddy Steve and his intelligent wife are democrats, so they can't be all bad.

      •  UI thihnk there is a lot of bully (5+ / 0-)

        mentality on the right as well as a lot of faux victim complex. Their basic assumption isn't just that they are right; they are righteous, too. Inherently superior. That's why it is OK for them to needle us but not Ok for us to needle them. They can dish it out but it is so unfair if they havew to take it.

        In fact that's my standard line when the needling starts "Don't start a political discussion with me unless you are as prepared to listen to my opinionns as you are to express yours. Also be warned I am better informed than you very articulate and I do not back off or back down." I say this quietly while looking directly into the eyes of the needler. The result is either a nice discussion or an end to discussion.

        BTW I live in an upscale gated community surrounded by wealthy Republicans. And they are all bullies.

        Second star on the right and straight on til morning

        by wren on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:00:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think apology friendly or sincere (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fury, adrianrf

      I read it as, "I sure enjoyed taking you to the cleaners, I sought you out to do just that, it's my pattern with you. And I need you to forgive me for last time."

      There's not a thing in that email that suggest any specific regrets about what he did, that he regrets any bad feelings she may have, and most importantly, that he would do anything differently the next time.

      With family, IMO, it's different. I have right-wing family, and I make the effort to make things pleasant, find a way to maintain the relationship.

      Be good to each other. It matters.

      by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:29:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I feel your pain... sorta (11+ / 0-)

    My wife was raised as a Mormon, and when we go to her family gatherings I'm always the token liberal everyone gets to argue with.  I'm a bit worried about this summers get together.

    My wife actually has remained a libertarian conservative, but at least she sees the folly of the "Clinton murdered people and Obama is fascist, socialist, secret muslim" wing of the political divide.

    I am the neo-con nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

    by bhfrik on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:33:07 PM PDT

  •  Ken should sod off. (6+ / 0-)

    Sorry, it's crude, but that's the way I see it.

    He (and they) had their chances to be right and Right and blew it.

    To them I say, "See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!"

  •  Why not try to push their buttons instead (19+ / 0-)

    and then toss off their response with "Oh, well, if that's what you really think". Why not try "Is it possible to leave 45 million Americans without insurance and still be a patriotic American"?

    Anyway, you rock.

    John Galt is the new Walter Mitty.

    by Bob Love on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:37:15 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, my husband just laughs at them... (11+ / 0-)

      again, maybe a male vs. female thing, or maternal instinct.  The world's children need to be saved from their callousness!

    •  Why is a business conference an appropriate place (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vgranucci, Fury, mariachi mama

      to get into a political argument?  I go to a lot of business events, and I don't think that's the place for a political argument.  I would, at all costs, avoid that kind of thing at a business events.  Yes, I do business with people who hold very different political views from me.  But that doesn't mean that I can't do business with them.  They are not devils; they are not mass murderers -- they just have different political views.  We discuss other things -- the business we have together, the weather, music, sports, restaurants, our families, whatever.  

      Just me, but if someone tried to bait me into a political argument at a business event -- or even at a social event, like a party, a concert, an art show, a child's baseball game -- I would avoid taking the bait with every fiber of my being.  Responding by trying to "push their buttons" is the last thing I would do.  That is not what those kinds of gatherings are for.  

      •  Your know, in general I agree but after hearing (6+ / 0-)

        it all night long (and after a few glasses of wine) one does tend to say to oneself "alright that's enough, A-hole!"  I wish I had more self control when my heart is pounding but I've always had a temper!

      •  but it sounds like THEY started it (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        askew, Bob Love, Fury, dotster

        not the diarist nor her husband.  I mean, how can you keep your mouth shut when you hear

        Bush was "the greatest president ever!"

        Unless this conference was attended by Blackwater or ExxonMobil executives, who the fuck would be that stupid?

        •  I did not dispute who started it (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bob Love, Fury, adrianrf

          It's just that "he started it" sounds like something my children would say.

          Even if somebody says something you think is totally stupid, what is the point of arguing if (1) you know that you are not going to change any minds; and (2) arguing about politics contains the very real risk of ruining a relationship that you value for other reasons?  Why would you participate in a political argument with someone when you value your business relationship with that person?  Or a friend with whom you play golf once in a while?  or the parents of your children's friends at their ball games?  

          Even if someone says something stupid, you can laugh it off, saying, there's no point in going into politics, hey, look, my kid just got a hit.  Or I like you too much to argue with you, where do you want to go for dinner?  Can't you share other things with people that don't include politics?

          Even if "he started it," you don't have to respond in kind.  That's what my mother always taught me.  I didn't have to hit my sister back.  And, if someone tries to bait me with a politically provocative statement, I don't have to respond with an equally provocative statement.  I can use the "I don't want to argue politics, let's change the subject" approach.  I've done that.  With some people, I have to say it several times, it's true.  But when they realize that you really mean it, that you aren't going to argue with them (and they aren't going to respond in kind) they stop.  

          Now, if someone is at an event specifically for discussing politics -- or posting on a political blog -- have at it.  That's an appropriate place.  It's just that politics doesn't have to invade every relationship I have.  I can share art, music, theater, sports, things like that with friends without having politics invade and ruin those friendships.  

          •  Yes, but when it begins with name-calling, (4+ / 0-)

            doesn't that bring it to another level? When someone directly insults you, even if it's "just politics".  Then the political really does become personal.

            •  Then you have to decide if you (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bob Love, Fury, adrianrf

              value the relationship for other reasons.  If it is a relationship you want to keep (an maybe alchohol goaded him into saying something that he shouldn't have said, and he later apologizes), then maybe I accept the apology, shrug it off, and make it clear that politics are off limits.  If it is someone who likes to insult me personally and does it repeatedly, then -- whether those are political insults or other kinds of insults, it doesn't matter.  That may not be a relationship worth keeping.  It's not a political issue at that point. It's an issue of a person who is not a friend in the first place.  

          •  This is very sensible, but is also (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fury

            the sort of thing that leaves right-wingers holding the field. They rant a lot, brook no argument, ignore reason and civility, and erupt in anger at the drop of a hat. And when you leave, or refuse to debate, they assume they've won, and/or that liberals are wimps who are unwilling and unable to compete in the market of ideas.

            Should liberals always retreat from these behaviors? Any way that feels right (short of physical assault) is fine with me.

            John Galt is the new Walter Mitty.

            by Bob Love on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:24:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Well, Ken did say you were intelligent (17+ / 0-)

    I guess that is something.  

    I recently attended a Banker's conference.  Though these people are not 'friends', they are people that I have known for a few years.  I was interested to see how things stood this year.  I was mildly surprised when I found that no one felt inclined to spew inflammatory rhetoric from the GOP.  There were conservative views of course, but there was also a lot of interest in a seminar on Sustainability.  

    Now on the other hand, there is a general combative feel to the Republicans that I work with.  They assumed I guess that I was one of them until the election and then they began to 'assume' that I was a librul.  Now that pisses me off since they have never asked my views nor have I shared them.  The reason it pisses me off is because now they make snide comments that are inappropriate.  They assume a lot about me with just one label.  The only thing I shared was my dislike of Palin as a candidate and then only once, instantly labeled as not walking in lockstep so must be a librul.

    There is definitely two groups out there.  The fiscal conservatives who are somewhat socially progressive, and the conservatives that have gone wing-nut crazy.  It is exhausting.

    Nature's laws are the invisible government of the earth - Alfred Montapert

    by whoknu on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:40:57 PM PDT

    •  Yes, exhausting is a good way to describe it (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vgranucci, PinHole, Bernie68, dotster, trs, whoknu

      as the wing-nut crazy ones are the ones I seem to come across most often.  They don't even think...they just parrot the talking points.  They used to at least be willing to discuss and meet in the middle.  But now they don't ever give even an inch.  I fear for our future when the other major political party is so unreasonable.

      •  As you can see from my past comments (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AllisonInSeattle, Fury, Pluto, dotster, whoknu

        we are among those who have had to break off relations with a portion of family in the past 10 years.  It is really easier than having to constantly try to balance and tip toe around those who are convinced of their own invincibility.  

        What you mention about the previous 'discussion' mode hit a bell with me and it doesn't with many today.  They think discussion is in the O'Lielly/Limpbaugh mode. And while they share the beliefs, don't want to see it in front of their noses. They really don't know HOW to have a discussion without it turning into a donnybrook.  

        I was taught by example to have discussions - at school, at the dinner table, in long car rides. Things were open. It has been a great cultural shock to have to deal with this "shut up" and name-calling on their part. Until 2001 I never knew "liburl" was a dirty word.  Very naive.

        Personally, I think it might be easier to deal with it in a business setting (even social) than it is with family.  Some seem to have a knack for letting it roll off their backs - when it is with people you cared about for 30 yrs and trusted, the betrayal is deep.

        Unfortunately there are those who try to keep it alive - like Cheney, NRA, Coulter, Limpaugh, faux, certain elements of the military, etc. Being here has helped us, as has our humanist & Unitarian backgrounds and the Obamas.  If people are causing you pain, why continue to put yourself in the boiling water with them?  

        Wishing you and others a good path through the thickets!

        •  The Republican party (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AllisonInSeattle, Fury, PinHole, dotster

          is now so far to the right that they are extremists. That's why it's so hard to get along with them. There's no moderation, no consideration for opposing views, and total acceptance of their authoritarian leaders and their constant output of alternate-reality talking points.

          "All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms labor is treason. -Abraham Lincoln

          by happy camper on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:44:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AllisonInSeattle, Fury, Phaseshift360

            About 4 yrs ago I noticed ugly, angry frown lines forming above the bridge of my nose. Between the B*sh administration, Iraq, Katrina, etc plus this ugly family situation, I was turning into someone I didn't like over the worry.

            I actively worked to relax my forehead (yoga & a 2X a yr massage) and if not a 'happy camper' at least at peace with myself.  Took some other measures too.  I was going to be DAMNED if those clowns were going to send me to a plastic surgeon!  Because thanks to their putting this country into debt, we lost 1/3 of $ we had put aside for retirement & I couldn't afford it - and this was before the Fall of 2008!

            Find something to decompress, Fury - don't let them do you in!

            •  Yes, yoga's wonderful and turning off the (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AllisonInSeattle, PinHole

              SCREAMING HEADS at 8:00 has done wonders for my peace of mind.  It's just when it's shoved in your face that it becomes a challenge.  And the personal insults are hard to walk away from.

            •  Another thing I do.......... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AllisonInSeattle, Fury, timewarp

              I wear hearing aids.

              They can be turned off - hehehe!  One can do it quietly or with a drama-queen flourish!

              Works great for screaming kids in grocery stores, drunks in the seats behind you on the airplane, and taking a book or magazine YOU have brought to the in-laws, so you can go into another room (ignore the A Coulter bk on the coffee table) and immerse yourself in whatever!

              Since we don't go anymore haven't had to use this technique lately, but maybe in a noisy bar scene, you could just pretend not to hear!  

        •  Good point, that Rush, O'Reilly, etc. have (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fury, PinHole

          changed the way conservatives think it's OK to talk to other people.

          I saw this change come over my relative. When you listen to that type of talk radio, where it's a guy putting down other people in the most crude fashion, day in and day out... It changes your version of "normal" conversation.

          This is such a sad change for our society in general.

          When it's my relative, I work my way out of it by asking questions related to his area of expertise, in relation to politics. And trust me, it is work! I have to think many miles a minute to keep the conversation damped down, on an even keel.

          Example (from years ago), "That reminds me, some people think the amount of borrowing we've been doing from China is likely to cause problems down the road, what do you think?" Hopefully this elicits a response that actually requires the person to think, which shuts off that gladiator-jabbing-blabbing-garbage tape. If not, rephrase the question till the person's mind actually cuts in. Then you really are talking.

          Be good to each other. It matters.

          by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:52:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wish my mind & mouth (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AllisonInSeattle, Fury

            were that nimble. Good for you and those who have mastered the art!

            I usually think of the perfect way to handle these people or a come-back - 2 days later! sigh

            Have since learned part of it is due to deafness and the way the brain handles & processes language - it's like hearing dyslexia.  

  •  I'm a s crapper and enjoy a fight (7+ / 0-)

    so being around lots of Kens isn't a problem for me. From what you describe yur basic problem is that you mind the acrimony--and Ken. at least when drunk, doesn't.

    If it was me, I'd send him a note back, a nice one, excepting his apology. I would not include anything that seemed the least like an papology on my part, just and acceptannce of his. After all he did call you a smart lady.

    But you are  you and need to take care of yurself. Good luck.

    Second star on the right and straight on til morning

    by wren on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:42:51 PM PDT

    •  I do enjoy it as well, but there's a time and (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vgranucci, PinHole, dotster, Econaut

      place for everything.  And outright name calling is lazy and antagonistic.  That is the problem, I do enjoy the political discussion but they just don't know how to discuss intelligently anymore.  They've let Rush and Fox do all their thinking for them.

  •  28% and falling. (6+ / 0-)

    My dear, you have managed to find a professional niche where the few remaining Republicans hang their shingles. So it probably seems like they are everywhere, but rest assured, they are a dying breed.

    I was hoping to get on your list for the hot, politically charged, left-leaning stuff that I know you must send around.

    I expect your associate's sister was trying, in a small way, to educate him, and gave up. I suppose there are some viral left wing e-mails, but despite being on the left side of the left wing for years, I've never gotten any, just right-wing screeds and promises of millions of dollars if I help out a Nigerian princess.  

    We just don't seem to go in for the SEND THIS TO EVERYBODY YOU KNOW!!!!!!!! stuff. I suspect it's a matter of arrested emotional development on the right wing's part, since it seems awfully middle schoolish to me.

    Behind their anger is fear. As Jon Stewart says, "it should taste like a sh#t sandwich!" and they don't like it one bit.

    Introduce your good-hearted acquaintance to Daily Kos, or one of the other, less maligned by the right wing sites, if coming to the great orange Satan is too much of a leap.

    "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

    by Orinoco on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:43:42 PM PDT

  •  Hope no one get seriously ill at conference. They (6+ / 0-)

    would have been forced to change political perspective.

  •  leave Ken in the dumpster of his own mind is (6+ / 0-)

    my advice. Write him a polite note back saying that you do not wish to have anything but a polite and non-political work necessitated relationship with him.

    The other guy? Send him this link, and also one to www.snopes.com with instructions to check out all those winger chain mails there. Tell him that progressives usually don't send out chain mails, they educate themselves independently, and with the help of well written work from the first link.
    He seems workable.

    Glad you got to go to Portugal, even if you were surrounded by asshats. It's a nice country.

  •  Thanks for the diary. This is a big (9+ / 0-)

    ongoing problem. My family is super-conservative, so I generally avoid knock-down, drag-out discussions with them. Occasionally, though, if the context is right, I'll go in swinging, even if I feel ganged-up on.
    (All this at the same time with people I know respect and love me, and love having me around.)

    On the other hand, all my friends are lefties, and with some of them I have arguments too: in their case, and especially with one in particular, I sometimes have this problem: he's a fucking know-it-all. I agree with his positions entirely, but he'll dismiss your take on a subject, complete your sentences, and just HAS TO win the argument. I wound up practically yelling at him the other night. I reminded him that during the campaign he was unshakably convinced that "the Clinton machine"
    was going to beat Obama and he contemptuously dismissed everybody else there. He was infuriating.
    But his general stance on the corporatist culture I am at one with.
    So there you have it: People on the right are full of crap, but people on the left can be insufferable assholes too. I'm a passionate guy, and it's nice to be around smart, considerate people who can really listen respectfully to another point of view, and come back with a thinking response, whether right or left.  

    •  After years of tense relations with my mother-in- (9+ / 0-)

      law, after she became an O'Reilly fan and I informed her I was working on Obama's campaign, we seem to be outright enemies now.  Her doing, not mine.  These people have no tolerance for us anymore and I do believe they despise us.  It becomes a problem for them when someone in their family thinks differently from them.  That's how far gone they are...they are willing to allow it to affect their relationships.

      •  Luckily, I've been able to keep real hostility (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fury

        out of my relationships with my family. We DO have a ton of fun together and share many other activities besides politics. Recently I had a dust-up with a nephew who worked for the McCain campaign. We made up over coffee. Funny thing if I can get everybody alone over coffee I can have a lot better discussions than at family gatherings. But overall I guess my family is fairly reasonable about most things. If they were really hostile redneck-types that would be a different thing.

      •  There Is More to The Tense Relations (6+ / 0-)

        than politics, believe me.  

        Politics is just the convenient field on which to play out the issues. And it may be (and probably is) unconscious on your mother-in-law's part.  

        It becomes a problem for them when someone in their family thinks differently from them

        This seems to be not just a political stance, but one of personality/character that extends to many, if not most, other areas in her life.

        My mother-in-law was like this too.  She almost ruined Nixon's resignation for me (they were visiting).  I had been working for his impeachment for years. I had a bottle of real Champagne (quite a luxury purchase for us then) chilling in the refrigerator for months.  And they happened to be visiting us, from another state, when Tricky Dick resigned.  I could hardly hear the commentary or his words with her hysterical wailing on the sofa behind me.  

        I took her nastiness and rejection very personally for many years - and how could I not when she would re-arrange my kitchen cabinets when I was out?  After a decade or so, I began to recognize that it was all part of how she lived in the world.  

        How sad to be so intolerant, nasty and fearful. That recognition on my part allowed me to be more generous toward her.  And, I was a loving wife for her son, and a terrific mother to her only grandchild. She warmed up a little, but not much. Her problem, not mine.

        I went into the marriage with the mother-in-law I got, not the mother-in-law I wanted.

               

        •  On the mother-in-law thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fury

          You're saying "was", so I presume not an active issue for you. With me, it was my very own mom. When visiting, she would clean and rearrange while I was working, then deliver the list of everything that was "wrong" that she "fixed" when I returned. One day at a friend's home, I saw her visiting mother with the frig pulled out, sweeping behind it.

          Two messages: she would go to whatever length to find something wrong, and... my mother wasn't the only one that did this. And it was funny, when it was someone else.

          After that, when my mother came to town, I'd leave a list for her. "I think there are rotten potatoes in that drawer, whole drawer probably needs to be cleaned, some of the pots are not truly clean, and the burner pans really are out of hand." Like a moth to flame, she'd do that stuff. Then when she told me proudly how perfectly she'd fixed every problem, I was able to compliment her, and be relieved she'd done the tasks.

          Sort of an Aikido visit strategy....

          Be good to each other. It matters.

          by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:01:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  My response to Big Dog (8+ / 0-)

    Well, Ken, you say the wine didn't help.  I think it did.  I think it allowed you to express your deeply held feelings without any social filter to prettify them.

    I saw some really ugly things in you that I'm having trouble forgiving or forgetting.  But if you give me some time, and listen to me when I talk instead of searching for your next opening to score some rhetorical point, that will also help heal the wound.

    Best regards,

    You gotta give 'em hope. - Harvey Milk

    by abrauer on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:57:50 PM PDT

  •  My advice (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vgranucci, Fury, PinHole, Wildthumb

    Keep politics out of your friendships. I have conservative friends but don't engage them. At my workplace, which is decidedly conservative, I ignore most of the statements. I do that because it's not worth trying to convince people who are just not going to change their minds.

  •  A Culture of Sadism Primed For Violence (5+ / 0-)

    Thank God these flabby mall shoppers are as much a threat to their own safety.

    Did you say these American psychos are financial types? Well that sure explains a lot.

  •  Can't tell you what to do but I'll say this... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, vgranucci, Fury

    I had a friend I had known for over a decade back in 2001. We'd met in 89 or 90 and as time went on he'd gone through several periods of pulling back from our friendship (me/group of us) and then expecting all to be forgiven. He did this twice, I even helped him get a job after some tumultuous decisions he made. He was like a brother, but when he flaked out on me/us yet again and then decided a few months later that he wanted to be friends again, I decided that it was time to stop being charitable to a friend who had shown he was going to be repetitively abusive.

    He sent me a very apologetic email and I replied to him in-kind yet still firmly and honestly stating that I wished we could reconcile our friendship but that no, I was done. I asked that he learn from this and go forward in his life with the knowledge he had gained and never treat future friends as he had treated me/us.
    I do hope he learned something from that time and that his future friends received better treatment than he gave to us.

    I won't tell you what to do or say, but if you put things on that level with people who apologize to you even though you truly are inclined to forgive and try to forget, then you may find that you're more self satisfied than just accepting apologies you truly feel are meaningless no matter the intent of sincerity (or lack thereof).

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:13:42 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (7+ / 0-)

    His note was decent back and since he is part of hubby's business group and admitted that he may have had a bit to much of the sauce I think you accept the apology in a short note back and just let him know kindly in a single sentence that in the future if he could stop with the labels i.e. communist, facist etc. that really bother you perhaps better discussion might ensue.

    Good luck. Trust me there are decent conservatives/repubs still out there (many of them voted for Obama or stayed away from the polls so he could be elected) and you can have good discussions with them. Focus on Obama's pragmatism rather than his liberalness, that's what I've done and it seems to promote much more interesting discussion. You're never going to convert them, object is to make them think about it and I think focusing on the pragmatism of what O man has done so far helps do that.

    So if you are the Big Tree, We are the small axe, ready to cut you down... to cut you down - Bob Marley

    by SmallAxe on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:18:21 PM PDT

    •  What's interesting about Ken is that one other (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Empower Ink

      time when someone else called me a socialist (yep, this isn't the first time with this gang), he jokingly said to let him know if it ever happened again.  But the tables have turned and it seems he has become a soreloserman!

      •  calling you communist and facist in same convo (5+ / 0-)
        just shows he has no idea what he is talking about obviously. I may be biased in that I live here in the beltway and it's pretty tough not to have conversations with the other side about politics regardless of the situation. But trust me you can make them think and I disagree with others that say you shouldn't regardless of the setting with the exception of family because lord knows they bring emotion into it and that is never good for an argument.

        Good quick story, I'm out a couple of years ago at a college buddies' baby celebration and he was a Bush appointee so party full of them. Many of whom I used to party with when we were young (20s). They all know I'm a lefty from our former days so they walk up and let me know that one of my old drinking buddies used to be one of Delay's top aides. Obviously my jaw dropped, went right over to him starting chewing the fat and hit him right away on Schiavo, once again going at the pragmatism (how can you be a libertarian and support that?) he quickly dropped his head and admitted that he was totally against it and actualy almost lost his job over hammering "the Hammer" over not pushing it. I told him he should have lost his job over it :).

        Hit em with pragmatism, works everytime, tough to conflict with reality.

        So if you are the Big Tree, We are the small axe, ready to cut you down... to cut you down - Bob Marley

        by SmallAxe on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:51:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  From your title, I thought this.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury, Empower Ink

    ...was going to be about a near death experience where you died and went to Hell.

    But, how you would have ended up in Hell is a mystery, because you must be some kind of saint to put up with these people.

    ;-)

    I like the backhanded remark about how you surely sent left-leaning diatribes to your mailing list.

    Ain't no stopping these folks. Keep your chin up.

    "Let the documents show that Richard BRUCE Cheney, Donald HENRY Rumsfeld......"

    by Big Nit Attack on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:23:09 PM PDT

  •  I Love Diaries Like This (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, Fury, Bernie68

    Well done and thanks!

  •  I'm having serious Deja Vu with this post... (0+ / 0-)

    Didn't some other diarist write a very similar diary about being with 100 other conservatives about 6 months ago...

  •  It sounds like they like baiting you just to see (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, Fabian, Fury

    your response. The key then is to be unpredictable.

  •  write him & tell him. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury

    . . .that although his views are opposing oposites to yours, it does not mean he is right and that he should not feel free to exhibit the usual Republican sanctimonious behavior. Tell him that just because he thinks he is right and that Sean Hannity and Rush Dimbulb tell him daily that he is, it does not make it so. And then forgive him and suggest that perhaps we can be friends.

    That'll get him. Nothing those boneheads hate more than someone telling them they just might not be right.

  •  my sisters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, Fury

    . . .once told me that poor school children should eat out of garbage cans. I shit you not.

    I don't speak to any of them anymore: we were close once.

  •  My suggestion for you to say to 'Ken'. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury

    "Should I write a letter back to Ken?  Would it do any good?  What would I say?"  

    In a note suggest that you will not talk politics with him if he is drinking. Period.

    "Over the past 8 years I have barely been able to stifle my contempt for anyone who supported Bush and the Iraq War. Being told that  Bush was "the greatest president ever!" just makes my blood boil."

    Me too! Fortunately (or not) my husband is not the instigator at all: I am. So I only have to keep myself in check and not him.

    "Recently, we also received an e-mail from another associate:... "

    ....Kudos to your discussions which may have helped him see the light.

  •  Allow yourself politics free evenings (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury

    We have friends with which we never ever discuss politics or religion. We are Democratic Catholics and they are Republican Evangelicals. We go out quite a bit with them but we have a lot of things we like to talk about that don't involve either subject. I know that I am not going to change their minds because they don't want their minds changed and neither to do. We agree to disagree and we don't want to destroy our friendship over it.

  •  Sintra is beautiful (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury

    I'm so sorry you had to experience it with this group of people. Did you walk up the mountain to the old summer palace? Very beautiful walk with exquisite views of the tow and its surrounding landscape.

    Yes we did, yes we will. President Obama

    by marketgeek on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:00:51 PM PDT

  •  There was "never discuss religion or politics in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, Fury

    polite company", as part of an old social code. Back in oh the Ford administration, I was one of the people who believed, for a time, that everything was political so that advice was meaningless. Since then I've come around to trying to learn the topics to avoid with various family, friends, and co-workers. In my immediate family the political spectrum runs maybe all the way from John Kerry to Cynthia McKinney. Internal controversy was at the level of "Is it OK to vote for Nader if Kerry has a big lead your state?" We still have the concert from before the inauguration saved on our DVR for when my niece and her husband get a chance to come by and watch it. My mother-in-law is the political outlier. (We're not supposed to tell her my sister-in-law's family supported Obama.) But even she was glad for the change in racial politics his election represented. So most of the time talking politics is no problem.

    On the other hand, in my family religion is pretty much a no-fly zone. With respect to the number and kinds of divinity we range from polytheist/pantheist to atheist. With respect to the role of organized ritual and hierarchy in religion we go from Eastern Orthodox to Quaker. That made arranging my father's memorial service, shall I say, delicate. It helped that we had close to a common understanding of what he wouldn't have wanted. Then we applied ourselves to making the words, music, and aesthetics of the service as beautiful and meaningful as we could manage within that framework.

    Anyway to get back to the diarist's subject, can you deploy the "polite company" injunction, at least while wearing the little black dress? In secular settings in the U.S. you could often get agreement that discussing religion is a likely mine-field and then make politics out-of-bounds by extension. Does this tactic still work?

    •  Good rule, but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fury, Econaut

      ...the "no religion or politics" rule is for people who are basically decent but get hot and bothered over certain issues, perhaps due to fundamentally different experiences or outlooks. So you agree with them not to go to those places.

      The problem here is that the diarist can control her own behavior, but not theirs. Their pattern is to start a fight, then throw insults until they "win". There are ways to alter the game, but is it fun? Especially when wearing a little black dress? :-)

      Sometimes it's possible to discuss issues related to politics with family or friends of divergent views, provided one draws the line carefully. E.g., I was at a family reunion in South Dakota. Lots of my relatives (though not my parents, anymore) are pretty conservative. So I didn't talk directly about politics. Instead I said that whatever we think, we have to test it against reality to see if it works. My relatives are mostly farmers -- I thought they'd find that statement palatable, and they did. I didn't take it any further.

  •  Don't we need to send you through D-con? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, AllisonInSeattle, Fury, operculum

    I had a similar conversation, recently, with a right winger.  After his rant about how great Iraq has been for the US, I asked him exactly what he thinks we accomplished there.  His first thought:  Saddam dead.

    I informed him that as of sometime recent, we had spent an estimated $680 billion to kill this one man.  And if an Iraqi leader was worth that, then I as an American must be similarly worth the same which puzzles me given you don't think my life--as a cancer survivor--is worth having public health care.

    It shut him right up.

    Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

    by cany on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:06:15 PM PDT

  •  Fury (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury, Aranfell

    you are very good story teller!

  •  Be as nice as you can be, and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, Fury

    tell Ken that you don't want to discuss politics with him.  Seriously, how valuable can the discussion be if he drops into name calling?

    Now, I wouldn't expect him to honor this for very long, but it might be enough to get him to hold his tongue.

    You can change some people's mind, but not until they will really listen to you...

  •  Here is my opinion of why they do what they do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury

    In a nutshell, I think, they have to be like this because they are either trying to validate their own views by forcing everyone else to believe them. Or, they need to feel superior in order to validate themselves.  

    Since they don't really know why they believe what they do (someone else told them what to believe and they are unable or unwilling to examine their views critically) they have to have as many people as possible on their side because that would mean they were right.  

    Either that or there are a lot more people with narcissist personality disorder than previously thought.

    Nature's laws are the invisible government of the earth - Alfred Montapert

    by whoknu on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:44:44 PM PDT

  •  Simply say this to "Ken" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury

    "Do you remember what you said to me?"

    Nothing else.

    That's your first round. Wait and see what he says in reply, if anything.

    If he does say, "Yes, what's the big deal?" you can say, "It's a big deal to me to be insulted at that level. Why would you do that at a party?"

    [In the email you quote he's saying: "I like you. You're wrong. If I compliment you I can tell you that I purposely seek you out, then try to crush you ("win"). Sorry about being drunk, and since I've said all that, I've done my part and will continue on as before, now it's your job to forgive me." Based on that, I think he will continue to say varients on "It's no big deal, it's your job to let me off the hook."]

    If he replies "It wasn't a big deal" again...
    a) Tell him again that it's incredibly offensive to you to have someone seek you out to be that insulting, the exact opposite of expectations for parties.

    b) Ask him what he would think if someone insulted him at that level. What his reaction would be.

    c) Both. I'm basically suggesting that your communication be holding a mirror up to him and his behavior.

    However, need to clear with husband first to see if it's OK with him, you both know the work situation more fully.

    Be good to each other. It matters.

    by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:21:35 AM PDT

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