|The baby boy in this picture will be 12 years old in four days.|
Still eager and dewy-eyed, I became convinced that all I had to do to convince someone they had placed their faith in the wrong candidate or cause was show them the facts, show them evidence. Because who wouldn't put their faith in what I considered demonstrable truth?
Twelve years later, I no longer believe in evidence as a trump card. Facts don't convince true believers, they make them retrench. Examples:
- The vaccines-cause-autism parent crusaders continue to deploy utterly tone-deaf misinformation copy-paste campaigns throughout the comments section of any mainstream article mentioning autism, unable to comprehend that, in perpetuating our culture's fear-and-pity attitude towards autism, they are undermining their own children's chances for future success.
- A woman I respect deeply told me with the full force of her conviction after we were dragged into the second war in Iraq that she believed Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction justified the war and were just waiting to be found (they weren't). She currently refuses to acknowledge the harm that will come to the LGBT community if Romney wins. And she's a smart, compassionate woman.
For a while, I thought avoiding direct engagement or not citing names while persistently speaking out was the best way to get messages out. That if one must confront reductionist true believers, then a calm and professional attitude would enhance the very rightness of the right messages. Staying on message, unflappably, would eventually get through to ... if not the zealots, possibly those in the zealots' thrall. But, as we saw in the first Obama-Romney debate, behaving like an adult when the opposition goes on a By Any Means Necessary rampage makes one look flat, uninvested, and lacking in conviction.
So what is the right approach? I'm circling back towards speaking the truth and calling out falsehoods while avoiding outright smackdowns, the model Obama deployed in the second and third debates. I'm still working on it, because I'm an easily-riled hot head (e.g., anti-vaccination paragraph above). I can't stand by and watch people like Mitt "Tax Returns" Romney lie and evade and spin, and not call them on it. But I can avoid sinking to their level, can avoid treating people as unthinking, gullible sheep.
Twelve years later, we're all lining up to the polls again. Or trying to. And hoping that our votes will actually be counted. And I'm no longer that innocent expectant mother of 2000, who believed democracy and integrity would prevail because duh. I'm terrified that four years of Republican obstructionism will come to fruition at the polls tomorrow.
My vote is my way of speaking out in defense of what is ethical and what is just, a near-sacred duty as it means speaking for my children, who cannot yet participate. I do not know what their future holds, but if they are disabled, LGBT, unemployed, impoverished, or unexpectedly pregnant -- disadvantaged in any way -- I want them to live in a country that treats them with respect, dignity, and understanding. As fellow citizens. As the citizens their immigrant grandparents were able to become, via a process that brought every non-Native American to this country, FFS. And I want that respect and dignity and understanding -- what's right, not what's soothing to believe or easy to hear -- to prevail in our country, now.
That is why I'm voting for Obama.