Archive for the ‘Politalking’ Category

Politalking: Why “#americawasnevergreat,” and arguments like it, won’t work. (Even if they are true.)   Leave a comment

I’m dusting off my opinions to write about a sentiment I’ve seen going around lately. More specifically, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently made waves with the below statement on August 15th:

“We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness, we will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged, we will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women, 51 percent of our population, is gone and every woman’s full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution.”

Now, I agree with the sentiment. I even think it was worded well, for the most part. But the issue I, and many others, took with what he said was the statement at the beginning: “America was never great.”

Cuomo is not the only person I’ve seen make this statement. I have seen it pop up on protest signs and on social media, as a pushback against Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again”. I totally understand wanting to push back against blind nationalism, and so I understand why the argument developed and why it can appeal to certain people.

Now, I don’t agree with the position that America was never great, and I feel I can make a strong argument as to why. But I’m not going to make that argument in this post. (Maybe as a follow-up.) Instead, I want to talk about why I think statements like this are not going to convince the majority of Americans, and how the same ideas can be stated in a much more appealing way.

First, I need to provide a summary of  Jonathan Haidt’s research into morality and politics. I’m going to briefly summarize it but I highly suggest you read his book, The Righteous Mind, and watch his TED talk.  His research entails looking at the basis of the moral values of liberal-minded people and conservative-minded people and how they differ. As he summarized in his book, he posits there are five moral foundations:

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness/Reciprocity
  • In-group/Loyalty
  • Authority/Respect
  • Purity/Sanctity

(Side note: He also posits there is a sixth (liberty), but the 5 are the main ones accepted in moral foundations theory, and are what I am basing my argument on. I do actually agree the sixth foundation exists, but doesn’t apply to this argument.)

His research found conservatives were equally sensitive to all five axes, whereas Liberals only scored high on the first two. These general trends may not apply to any particular individual, it is a useful framework to break down why this argument is ineffective.

The statement, “America was never great”, came from liberal arguments, and it makes sense why people on the left wouldn’t have any issue with it. Throughout history, America has caused lots of harm to its citizens, and hasn’t had the best track record of caring for the downtrodden. On top of that, we have had a lot of unfairness throughout our history; look at slavery or how we treated Japanese Americans in World War 2. Even nowadays we have rampant wealth inequality, and only recently extended equal rights to gays and lesbians. Viewing things from this lens, the statement seems fine to me.

However, this argument doesn’t acknowledge the other 3 moral foundations, and one could argue it goes directly against them. It insults the in-group (Americans) by stating their country is mediocre, and always has been. It is disrespectful, as it ignores what America has done to make the world a better place. Finally, it challenges the orthodoxy of America being a shining example to the rest of the world. From the lens of a conservative world view this is a bad argument at best, and an insult at worst.

The United States of America has issues, and I don’t think anyone would disagree. Almost everyone can think of some law we need to reform, or problem we need to solve. If we find a way to frame the argument in a way appeals to the most people, we might be able to actually make progress towards fixing things instead of yelling at each other on the internet. I am going to attempt to do so below:

A short, slogan like example would be:

“Make America Even Greater.”

This counters Trump’s sentiment (America is no longer great) without negative framing, and still shows we need to improve.

A slightly longer version would be:

“America is great because we are always improving our country. Let’s work hard to make it great for all Americans!”

Again, it focuses on improving our country, but doesn’t insult it in the process. It also combines everyone into the same in-group of American, instead of Republican vs. Democrat.

Finally, a longer form:

“America is a great country, built on ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Throughout history, Americans young and old have worked hard to make these ideals a reality that we all can share. Through our hard work, we are an example to the world of freedom and achievement. We can look around and see our accomplishments, while still accepting have more work to do. When our nation works together, we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to. So lets work together to make America even greater than we’ve ever been!”

This example (albeit a little grandiose) shows respect to the USA, asks us to all be one group, and pats us on the back for the good we’ve done so far. It still hits on improving things, and it could easily lead into listing off problems, as it has primed people to be more open.

By re-framing the sentiment in a positive light, you avoid people getting defensive. Instead of arguing whether America is good or bad, you get to have the important discussions: how to fix what is broken and improve what isn’t. Instead of fighting, we actually might cooperate with each other for a change.

Now, if you do agree that America is never great, feel free to keep using the argument. I disagree with you, but you have the right to say it. But I hope I have shown you why this argument fails to convince conservatives and, more importantly, moderates and independents. If that’s your goal, then I hope my advice will help you make more convincing arguments. If not, you probably stopped reading by now, but have fun being angry on the internet.

Thank you for reading,


Posted 08/24/2018 by Shay in Politalking

Tagged with , , ,

Politalking: When Is The Right Time To Make It Political?   Leave a comment

That’s the questions everyone has after events like this. Fifty eight innocents dead, and hundreds more injured. A single gunman fired upon concert goers using a rifle modified to give it an automatic rate of fire. Once police made it to his room, he shot himself. As of this writing we don’t know a motive, and speculation is rampant. News is coming out, victims are dying and recovering, and vigils are being held.

America has put aside all of our political differences and came together to support the victims of this tragedy in a sign of humanity and respec-

Oh wait, that is what SHOULD have happened.

What ACTUALLY happened is a bunch of Democrats started screaming for gun control and blaming Republicans for the deaths, and a bunch of Republicans clutched their guns and screamed of Democrat false flags.

Some, like Hillary Clinton, didn’t even wait for all of the bodies to be picked up before pushing oddly specific political agendas. They didn’t finish picking up victims until 2 pm; she sent those tweets at 8 in the morning. The real icing on the cake is she asked us to put aside our politics so we can push forward with her politics. Because it’s not about politics, right?

Other people, like Hayley Geftmen-Gold, celebrated the deaths. We all know only republican gun-toting hicks listen to Jason Aldean, right? We all know your political affiliations make you worse that Hitler, right? I wish her opinion was an outlier, but it isn’t. Go on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube comments and you will see many people saying the same thing. She was just dumb enough to get caught.

The right-wing had their fair share of stupid behavior. In addition to the pearl clutching and fear mongering around guns that always happens, we had people like Alex Jones trying to claim this is a false flag. These claims have been rampant on Twitter, YouTube, and 4Chan as well. We have people claiming it was the government, or the casino owners, or the Illuminati, or some other evil entity. They don’t really care about the victims, except in their use as proof of a nefarious plot.

Bill O’Reilly said shootings like this are just the price of freedom. This one is a little more forgivable, as he doesn’t seem to have bad intent. But this was too soon for that sentiment. This was written before we even knew the final casualty report, and although Bill O’Reilly has never been the voice of reason, you think he would’ve known better. Although I feel his contribution is less bad, it still feeds into my main issue with all this nonsense.

I understand people are sad, and are upset. People are angry. People want to find something or someone to blame. Just like when an ISIS supporter shoots up an office building with his wife and people blame all Muslims, we want the easy answer. We should look for answers, and we should find solutions.

But just like you wouldn’t send an angry email to your boss, you should start prescribing solutions when you are seeing red and we don’t have information. Those of you on the left screaming for strict gun control right now, I ask: If the shooter was an ISIS supporter, would you support us banning all Muslims from America?

I would hope your answer is a quick and vocal NO!

Should we prescribe an extreme over reaction that doesn’t even solve the problem? Should we do it because people are angry? If you don’t support it, does it put the victims’ deaths on your head? Should you pray to God for forgiveness for believing in the First amendment’s free exercise clause?

The answer to all the above should also be no.

The same is true with this. We need to learn more about how this monster obtained his weapons, what his motive is, and what laws were missed or ignored. From what little bit we know now, there are some simple things we can do already. Regulating gat cranks and bump stocks is a good start, but nothing we know at the moment shows any of the policies democrats are screaming for would have prevented this.

That makes what they are doing seem like ghoulish opportunistic tribalism. I don’t believe in the tit-for-tat mentality. Even if Republicans were awful for politicizing the Pulse shooting, it doesn’t make you any less awful for doing it with this one. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and you pooping your pants isn’t suddenly OK because the guy next to you did it too. It’s still gross behavior, and we should be better than that.

That isn’t to say we don’t need to do something; we desperately need to take action. As I stated when I wrote about the Orlando shooting, we have been too complacent for far too long on issues like these. Stephen Colbert put it best when he addressed Trump directly on his show, and I’ve posted the clip below. We should do something. If Republicans don’t like what is being proposed, they should make their own proposals. Either come up with a better plan, or accept the one the Democrats have. Either way, do something.


However, before we act, can we take a little time to mourn? Can we take a least a day to be sad for the victims and their families? Can at least we give a moment of silence for the dead?

You may think by politicizing this you are helping. You think you are being respectful. You think that is shows you care about the victims. But it isn’t helping the victims, or your cause. Would you be screaming your political points at a funeral for a family who lost their son? Or for a husband who lost his wife? By jumping into politics so soon, that is exactly what you are doing.

You are taking a tragedy someone else is living through, and you are making it about you. You propose your solutions to their problem. You are ignoring their pain and suffering by not being there for them, and instead you are using it for your own means. You may think you are being noble and your intentions may be good, but it is selfish and divisive in a time where we need to be there for those in pain.

Be angry. Get motivated. Write down your thoughts, find your representatives contact information, and find out who pays them. Write down angry emails, work through your thoughts, and discuss it with your friends. But leave the specifics for a time when you are thinking clearer, like you would if it was an angry email to your boss. Take a moment to just feel the tragedy that happened. It will help galvanize you for when we start to solve it. The time for solutions will come sooner than you think.

So, when is the best time to make it political?

I don’t know. There’s not a specific rule in place for tragedies like this. But maybe next time, can we at least give it a day before we start making it political? If you are too impatient to do that, then can we at least wait until the bodies are cold?

I don’t think that it too much to ask for.

– Shaman

Posted 10/04/2017 by Shay in Personal Thoughts, Politalking

Tagged with , ,

Politalking: 2016 Election Thoughts   2 comments

Ok, Wow.

This election was intense to watch. Obviously the majority of the media got it completely wrong. I know I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win. Even the most careful poll and aggregate sites, like 538, didn’t predict a high chance of this outcome. Some like the NY Times Upshot gave him a chance in the single digits. So this is a historic upset of a victory, regardless of the side you take.
Most of my friends are distraught over the news. I don’t think it is wrong to be so upset. People’s investment in this election was strong, and certain groups can be very negatively affected by the results. Although I didn’t have a strong pull either way, and although I feel that things are going to be as bad as people think, my heart goes out to you. Know I may not always agree with you on everything, but I will gladly lay down my life to protect your rights and freedoms.

So why did this happen? I don’t believe America’s bigots and racist all came out in droves, waiting for lynching to be legal. I don’t think it was a coalition of misogynist men who can wait to grab some p***y. I don’t think it was xenophobes wanting to get rid of “Jose” and “Muhammed”. I’m not saying people like that don’t exist, and I’m not saying all Trump supporters are saints. But I believe it is something much simpler.

Clinton’s supporters got cocky. Most of the liberals I know became too comfortable sitting in their echo chambers, feeling their sense of smug (and often unearned) sense of superiority. They kept downplaying the scandals Clinton was facing as nothing more than fear tactics and misogyny, and treated Trump supporters as nothing more than hate mongers and idiots. Supporting Trump became a scarlet letter, with people losing friends over even the inkling of support for Herr Furher Trump. I think Clinton supporter were well-intentioned in this, because a lot of the rhetoric being tossed around made him seem like the absolute greater of two evils. But by being so divisive, democrats created their own undoing.

When you make it so unpopular to support Trump that people can’t even speak his name, you don’t get rid of the support. All you do is shut down the conversation and eliminate your chance to convince others. People forced Trump supporters underground, making them insulate themselves in an echo chamber in order to save their own sanity. They stopped talking to the other side, stopped watching and reading most news, and gave up on challenging their own views. Only trolls, contrarians, and the true undecided continued the dialogue and only barely. I know I was terrified to speak out about the election at all, and had to constantly throw in jabs at Trump to show I don’t like the guy.
Come election time, however, his supporters came out in droves, and surprised everyone.

That isn’t the only reason Trump won, but I think it’s a big one. The emails are another reason, as is the 3rd party vote pulling a lot of the younger vote away. It is tempting to blame them for this election, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong to do so. I think Comey was in a tough spot, and if I were in his position I would probably have done the same. If he didn’t announce the emails and they found something incriminating after a Clinton victory, imagine how much of a shit show would have occurred. As for 3rd party candidates, can you blame them for wanting to buck the system? For wanting to convince people to vote for good and not just lesser evils? Or should we have just embraced the two-party system, and told Gary to smoke a bowl and sit down?

But in the end, it comes down to Clinton failing to convince more people to support her. If we as a country value democracy we have to accept the results, even if they aren’t the ones we wanted. Keep in mind even the popular vote is only separated by 0.1% of the electorate. That could mean half the country is racist, homophobic, and sexist. But I have faith in humanity, nor do I feel I have the right to pass judgment on a large group of people who have just as many diverse reasons for voting as their opponents.

So we are left with Trump as our president. We have to play the hand we are dealt. But I believe adversity begets change, and if you think a Trump presidency is going to be bad, then fight it. Work to defend the rights of you friends and loved ones. Make you dissent and disapproval heard. Pressure your senators to be honest and represent you. Fight for voting reform and what you feel is right. It may be a hard road, but if it is important as you think it is then it is worth it.

I hope Trump surprises us by actually not being the monster he seems to be. At the very least I hope his presidency convinces people that we need to pull the reins on presidential power, because every power Obama grabbed is now in Trump’s tiny infant hands.

But I honestly don’t know. It could be a real shit-show. Either way, we are all in this together. So breathe, think, and realize the sun will always rise the next day. We have made it through darker times, and we will make it through these.

I may talk politics in the future, but this is the last I’m talking about this election. We’ve dealt with this bullshit for a year; time to go back to our car videos and porn for a few months.

Thank you for reading,


Posted 11/09/2016 by Shay in Politalking

Tagged with , , , ,

Politalking: In Defense of Not Voting For President   Leave a comment

It is Election Day Eve in America. I’m sure everyone is currently filling up their bunkers and buying their guns. To say this election has been divisive would be an understatement. I’ve avoided talking about it for most of the time, but with it being so close to over I felt I should get this off my chest while this is still relevant.

I’m not trying to convince you to vote for any particular candidate. They all stink, and it’s just a matter of how strong the BO is. Not only do I think there is no good choice, but I believe voting should be as private if you choose it to be. What you do when you sign your ballot or go to the polls is your business, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is an ass who is trying to manipulate you. They don’t give two shits about you voting unless it is for their candidate. I will be keeping my vote private, except in discussions with close friends. I think more people should do the same.

That being said, do you even need to vote?

The answer is yes, but only because of all of the local issues. Those are the races that have a direct effect on your life, and the ones you have a chance to influence. Too many people get up on the  Trump Train, the Clinton Hill, the Johnson Bong, and the Stein Totally-GMO-Free-Rice-Cracker, and forget to even look into who their local reps and judges are. The vote for president is the least important part of your vote. Even in swing states (of which Utah is one this year) it doesn’t matter much.

As an example, I know many people don’t bother to learn about the judges in their district. I wish more people would. As a single father, I dread ever having to go to court in Utah, as I would have to face some of the most close minded and negative judges we have in the country. They pass down some of the most unjust and overbearing ruling to fathers who only want to see their kids. I’m not going into specifics as it’s not my case to talk about, but there are some horrific stories.

Many of these judges should have been voted out long ago, but they still serve. You know why? Because people don’t learn about them, and then check yes on reaffirming because they don’t give a damn. Imagine how much change you could make in people’s lives by voting informed. The president may hurt our standing with other countries, but these judges can and have destroyed many families and many lives.

You can prevent it. You could sway the results. Many of these elections ar only one by a handful of votes. Your voice and opinon can actually reach these politions, and you can have real change. I think that is a thousand times more important that deciding if you like spray tans or pantsuits.

So, if you find yourself feeling like you just want to stay home because you think the candidates suck; If you are a burnt-out Bernie Bro or a Guac-Bowl carrying Jeb supporter, please still vote. Nothing requires you to vote for a presidential candidate. You can leave it blank or write in your mom. But don’t ignore everything else.

I hope everyone has a good and swift election tomorrow, and I will see you in Canada as we all jump the border.

Thanks for reading,


Posted 11/07/2016 by Shay in Personal Thoughts, Politalking

Tagged with , , , ,

Orlando   1 comment

This is going to be a bit more of a raw and emotional rant on my part. I plan on discussing the 2nd amendment(as well as all the others) and gun control at a later date, but in light of the events of Orlando, and the fact that keeping this all in is making me feel physically ill, I need to speak more candidly about this.

First and foremost, this is a tragedy. This is a disgusting and horrible act, perpetrated by a disturbed monster. The families of the victims must be going through unimaginable pain, and my thoughts go to those still in the hospital. I wish them a full recovery. To those who have lost loved ones, I cannot fathom or understand what you have gone through, as I have not be through that pain. My heart goes out to you, and although it does little to ease the pain, I am sorry.

I’d call this a wake up call for America, but we have been hitting the snooze button for years now. We need to do something about this. We don’t have to all agree on what that is right now, but we can no longer sit here pretending that these shootings, these deaths are not a bit deal. Choosing to do nothing is still making a choice.

I am all about freedom. I don’t believe that people should give up their freedoms for safety. Giving away our rights should be a last resort, something we should rarely ever consider even in the worst of times. To do so is to let fear rule over our lives, and let those who wish to cause us that fear win. On the other hand, I am sitting across from a rack of magazines, staring at Guns and Ammo, and I have to fight the ugre to buy every single magazine and burn them when I get home. The thought of some bastard using his freedoms, our freedoms, to destroy so many lives for such senseless and stupid reasons fills me with rage. I had problems working, I had problems sleeping, and I don’t even have a dog in the fight. My closest connections are LGBT family members, and the fact that my company has an office in Orlando. (None of my coworkers were hurt in the attack, thankfully.)

I understand the anger. I understand the outrage. I understand that people want someone to blame, want some easy solution, some panacea to present itself and stop the pain.

Yes, the fact he got a gun so easily is what allowed him to do such harm. Yes, he did do this attack in the name of ISIS and because of jihadist extremism. Yes, he was also a self hating homophobe who picked his targets because of their orientation. No, it isn’t just one of those things and no, we can’t solve it easily or cleanly.

Life is not that simple. These issues are not that simple. Like with everything I have stated before, life is complicated, messy, and full of nuance. We cannot let anger and fear rule us. I refuse to let it rule me. If we want to be a free and just society, we need to rise above it all. We need to come together and make it work. That means compromise. That means swallowing your pride. That means getting down into the weeds and getting your hands dirty. We don’t do it by screaming, by throwing the blame endlessly, by ignoring the facts. I understand, and sympathize with that sentiment. But it will solve nothing on its own.

These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the times that define us as a country. History has its eyes on this moment, and we need to decide how we proceed.

Do we give in to our fear and take away rights from all citizens, due to the actions of the bad? Do we give in to our anger, destroy our humanity, define large swaths of people as the enemy, and commit atrocities too often repeated in history? Do we choose not to act, and let the situation devolve to the point that ideologues and demagogues make the choice for us, when we are past the point of compromise? Or do we find that compromise, fight and strive for a solution, and rise up as a country?

I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just a jerk on the internet with too much time and too many opinions.
I do know I am tired of all the death. I know I am tired of all the hate. I know that I don’t want to live in a world defined by those qualities.

I don’t feel like shuffling off this mortal coil just yet, so I will do my best to change this world. No matter how little that is, at least I can say I tried.

Thank you for reading,


Posted 06/14/2016 by Shay in Personal Thoughts, Politalking

Tagged with , , , ,

Politalking: On Nuance   Leave a comment

Above all the other issues, disagreements, and topics I could write about, there is one that bothers me most.

That is the disappearance of nuance in our discourse, this almost intentionally shrinking middle ground in our politics. We are lacking a real option for those of us who don’t ascribe to the primary color palette of the US’s political system and I’m tired of picking the choice that is the least crappy or the most popular with my friends. This ever-present, us-or-them, Sith-versus-Jedi, I’m-right-so-you-must-be-Satan type of conversation has gotten beyond annoying.

I don’t know exactly when or how this toxic trend began but I believe the culprits are gerrymandering, social media, and outrage culture.

Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating the boundaries of a voting district to favor a specific political party. It is illegal, but it can be hidden under the guise of electoral redistricting, which is a necessary process as a city or state grows and moves around. However, many states give that power to their legislature, which means that the control over how the lines are drawn are in the hands of the party currently in power. This allows them to get up right to the line between legal redistricting and illegal gerrymandering, and piss all over it.

The lines for political districts are supposed to have a sensible outlay to them. They were broken out simply by neighborhood, or by specific landmarks and roads. There wasn’t a regard for what party wins votes in what district by how much. With the power in the hands of the victors, the lines changed so that the people who don’t vote for them are now stuck outside of their zone, and the people who do are brought further in. The next election they only have to appeal to a friendly audience, as the “others” are excluded. If the winning party loses control, the opposing party can get revenge by redrawing the lines in their favor, leading to a crazy mess of districts that does not correctly represent the constituency. When your district resembles an octopus or a pair of headphones, I think you might be gaming the system a little too much.

It leads to the situation we have now, where Republican districts are extremely Republican, Democratic districts extremely Democratic, and moderate and independent voters mostly ignored. A potential candidate has to fit every part of their party’s base, or they can’t win. This means in many places you can’t run as a republican unless you shit AR15’s and tax breaks, and you can’t run as a democrat unless you want to repeal the second amendment, and raise taxes on the rich unquestioningly.

This extremism flows up from the local level all the way to our national presidential elections. You no longer have to try to appeal to the moderate. In fact, trying to appeal to the moderates and independents in local elections will usually hurt you.  Since you don’t have to try to convince people to vote for you, you get lazy rhetoric. Just shout “9/11”, “Immigrants”, and “Muslims”; or “Gun Control”, “Global Warming”, and “Amnesty; and you too can get your own position in our government, and a 15 minute segment on Fox or MSNBC. No need for thought.

This is something that seems to be getting addressed, mostly in the Supreme Court since people aren’t willing to play fair. However, social media and outrage culture play a much greater role and are intertwined with each other.

Outrage culture doesn’t have an official definition, but is our current obsession as a culture with flying off the handle at the slightest provocation. It is this culture of micro-aggressions, political correctness, and thin skin. Now, that doesn’t mean I think people should run around being jerks, or that using someone’s preferred pronouns is dumb, but when someone comes up to me and starts speaking Spanish (I’m half Latino), I tell them I don’t speak Spanish and move along. If they are rude about it, I tell them off more rudely and move along more rudely. What I don’t do, is scream at them, go home, find their Facebook, throw it up on 8chan and try to ruin their life.

Now, that is a bit of an extreme example, but society’s current reaction is to get mad, to point out ignorance and bias in anger, instead of turning the other cheek or giving others the benefit of the doubt. This discourages nuance because many people are still learning about these issues. They don’t know everything so they may misspeak or say something offensive. For example, someone saying, “Oh, are you transgendered”, as that –ed at the end could offend people by implying that it was something done to them, as opposed to saying they are a transgender individual, which is more respectful. However, a person will not want to interact or learn these specifics if your reactions to fly off the handle.

On top of that, if someone says something that you feel is offensive, and you scream at them and quit the conversation, you may miss out on some real understanding and common ground. I notice this from footage at Trump rallies. The anti-trumps will get offended at the first mention at border control, because they are outraged at Trump’s rhetoric. They don’t listen to the supporter’s reasons, which tend to be more nuanced and less extreme. It doesn’t make it them correct, but we lose potential solutions and opportunities for growth when we refuse to give people the benefit of the doubt. We need to chill out and analyze things with the effort they deserve.

Social media destroys this.

Our society has become one of memes, jokes, 6 second videos, and 140 character conversations. Nuance takes time, which is something people either don’t have or aren’t willing to give. They would rather look at a picture with a witty pun that reinforces what they already know. They want to drive by shoot off their opinion and leave the victim to bleed out on their own.

Hell, I am pretty sure I’ve already lost most of the people who started reading this post. Partially, it could be because I’m not a good writer. I also wouldn’t be surprised I pissed off someone by forgetting about Grey Jedi in my Star Wars comparison at the beginning. If you have made it this far, thanks! I’d still probably write this, but it is good to know I am not a man shouting into a vacuum.

I could’ve probably gotten 5 or so likes by posting a TL;DR version akin to:

Think critically newbs! #FeeltheBern #ImWithHer #CantStumpTheTrump

However, I’m more verbose than that, and this topic is more complex than that. I am a fan of brevity, but something like abortion or immigration cannot be handled that quickly. Things like racism, sexism, poverty, gun rights, prison reform, etc.; are muddy, complex, nasty issues that involve some effort to understand and solve correctly. We aren’t going to be able to do that with a hashtag and some lolcats.

As a country, we cannot allow this to become the norm. We can’t let our discourse devolve into poorly stated shouting matches and ego-masturbation via Facebook.

I know this post sounds cynical, but I don’t mean to be. I believe part of the reason independents have grown as a voting bloc recently is because of this frustration. I can’t be the only one who wishes people would give this pressing issues, the time and attention they actually deserve.

So before you post that great “icanhazbernie” pic, before you tweet #nevertrump or #feelmyJohnson, before you dive into the asininity that is the YouTube comment section, I ask that you take a moment to think about what you are going to post. Think about why you are saying what you are saying. Is it because it is something that you truly believe in, a cause that you’ve given deep thought to? Or is it because you want a friend you’ve had a crush on to think you’re #deep and give you a handy on Tumblr”?

Life isn’t black and white, so try not to act like it is.


Thank you for reading,


Posted 06/12/2016 by Shay in Politalking

Politalking: Introduction and Explanation   Leave a comment

I am a bit of an opinionated jerk. (Surprising, I know.)

Because this jerk has driven his friends and family with said opinions, I’m going to start writing about my politics on this blog. (It also doesn’t help I have been listening to Hamilton non-stop, which made me want to take my shot at politics.)

This blog has been nothing but poetry for quite a while, and I imagine most of my current followers want more of that. I still plan to write and post poetry here, as it is a passion of mine and I want it to continue. Plus, it is quicker to write and post than a political rant.

But fear not, poetic perusers, I will make it easy for you to look past any sort of political rantings, as I assume (at least for those of you in America) you get more than enough of it in your daily lives. My political rants will be prefaced with Politalking, because I feel clever for coming up with the name, and the only other site using it is a blog that has been dead for 5 years now. So, when you see that in your reader, feel free to move along if that’s not what you are into. I won’t be offended.

Now, to establish a little bit about my political views, and how I approach things like this.

I am a Centrist, according to I take a complicated, nuanced approach to politics, and I reserve the right to change my opinions and ideas whenever I get presented with new ideas and evidence. I feel one of the biggest problems in politics, whether it is the US or the EU, is that people aren’t allowed to change their mind or show growth. To admit you might have been wrong can be political suicide. Something someone said 15 years ago will be brought back up and thrown at them to make them look like a hypocrite or a liar. If your opinion hasn’t grown in 15 years, you either haven’t tried to challenge yourself and have stale and outdated beliefs. Or you think you have challenged yourself, but refuse to change for the reasons that have little to do with the political arguments themselves, and have everything to do with what people will think of you or other emotional things. I try to foster growth through challenging my worldview. So you may see something you don’t like here, and you are welcome to challenge anything you read. Just try to keep it civil.

I also want to state that I absolutely hate identity politics. People are more than the sum of their labels. I see no problem with someone being a Christian conservative who also happens to be gay and polyamorous, or someone else being a pot smoking atheist who is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-“traditional” marriage advocate who votes libertarian.

It not that things like that don’t matter; they definitely do. A woman has a much different view than a man does, and most likely has some valid complaints. A black man has experienced racism, and you shouldn’t ignore his experiences. But when someone’s whole argument comes down to, “I’m gay so I’m right, now shut up”, there is no point in engaging, as they are using that to stifle discussion and debate.  It is also far too easy to do the opposite, and write off somebody as a just their label, ignoring what they have to say.

“Oh, he’s conservative, so he just wants guns so he can shoot black kids and gay people.” “He supports Bernie Sanders, so he must be a lazy entitled brat that hates the American flag and hard work.” “He’s a libertarian, so he just some crazy nut-job who wants to watch the world burn.”

Is any of that helpful? Or does it just boost your own ego so you can give your self a mental pat on the back because you aren’t one of those nasty, “others” that all your friends think are stupid. No, you are one of the cool kids that get everyone to like their Facebook statuses, and who gets huge compliments on their bumper stickers. Agnostia forbid you try to think for once.

Now, if you put a gun to my head and forced me to pick, my views at the moment are closest to a left leaning libertarian. Which may explain why I feel like I am not really represented in today’s political atmosphere. None of the mainstream candidates lean libertarian, although they don’t lean too authoritarian either. They mostly stay on that liberal-conservative line. The Libertarian party is… a little eccentric. Although he’s not going to win, any part that has the likes of John McAfee or Penn Jillette might be a little to chaotic for my taste. (I don’t dislike either of them, but I’m not sure I’d want them making political decisions for the majority of Americans.) Plus, the American libertarian part tends more to the right than the left, which makes me less interested in throwing in with them.

So, until the let’s-not-be-dicks party emerges, I am going to stay an independent centrist and judge people on their policies and character, and not what color light saber they think they deserve. Pretty much all of them are just Sith in denial anyways.

Regarding the types of posts I will write, I am not going to try and keep abreast of current political events unless I feel I have some sort of unique perspective to add to the discussion. Mostly I am going to stick to higher level issues, like gun control, abortion, capitalism vs communism, etc; while also writing more informative, generalized posts. I may also decide on other things not listed above, but if any of it is political, then I wont be talking about it. I will be Politalking about it. (I am almost ashamed at how proud I feel about that name, but I can help it. How is that not some sort of blog or podcast yet?)

I will try to keep the offense down to a minimum, and show the proper respect to the issues and to others. However I will not coddle, nor will I censor myself just to spare someone else’s feelings or ego. But I can promise that my intent is to discuss issues, and not antagonize. If I do, it is probably because I am an opinionated jerk. 🙂

Thank you for reading,


P.S: Seriously, if you have any appreciation for music or musicals, go listen to Hamilton. It’s absolutely amazing, and free to listen to as well.

Posted 06/05/2016 by Shay in Politalking