Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Untold Story #11: My Minor in Political Science
Here's a thing I've never really talked about: I minored in political science at Maryville College, where I was President of the College Republicans for awhile. I've never really talked about this not only because politics are so divisive but also because--I'm just going to call a spade a spade, here--I was perpetually over my head as a student of political science, also as President of the College Republicans.
The choice of English major was easy; in fact, I declared a semester early because I'd always been about the reading and writing. The choice of minor was more of a stab in the dark. My dad had been a Navy man. A Few Good Men had just come out. I was thinking of military law.
I wasn't a poor student of political science; I typically earned B's in my classes. But I always felt just a little disoriented, as if I were trying to see without glasses. Part of it was that I tend to be chronologically challenged and have, therefore, never been a great student of history. (The girls and I are using The Story of the World for homeschool history, and I'm hoping to build a timeline in my brain, at last!) But there was more to my disorientation, and I suspect that--even if I could've never articulated this--some of it was related to whatever I understood, or thought I understood, about religion.
Maryville College was half my life ago, and political issues and conversation still make me feel a bit off-kilter. I'm grieved at the rarity of respectful, political discussion. The science of politics is complicated. I dedicated four years of my life to the study of it without completely grasping it, and despite my best efforts, I know there are still holes in my understanding; therefore, I'm doubtful that most other people understand it perfectly, either.
I think people know only what they know, and I think most vote based upon whom they want to see protected. The Republicans are interested in protecting our unborn, and they're interested in protecting all of us from terrorists. The Democrats are interested in protecting those burdened by poverty and prejudice. As ridiculously oversimplified as that explanation, for me, it's a wellspring of empathy. Everyone is trying to protect someone(s), and probably? Everyone is afraid, right now.
I see no need to play it close to the vest: just like you, I'll vote my conscience. I tend to fall just right of center: a moderate conservative, if you will. A week ago, I would've told you that my greatest concern is related to terrorism. I have four babies and don't want them killed on native soil and, more specifically, in the shopping mall or movie theater east on the Turnpike. I don't want a wall or deportation of honest, hardworking people, but I do want immigration reform. Trump and Clinton are on the opposite ends of a spectrum when it comes to this issue, and I can more easily swing Trump's way than Clinton's. Also, I am more confident in Trump's influence within the Supreme Court than in Clinton's.
However. I cannot, will not vote for Trump given his recently-disclosed comments about female bodies, and it isn't lost on me that many of my friends couldn't vote for Trump well before, given his obvious lack of care about them and their bodies and/or situations. I feel convicted because--even as I was (and am) thinking about protection from foreign terrorists--they were (and are) thinking about protection from certain forces within our own, legal population. I care about their bodies and situations but have no enthusiasm for much of Clinton's platform. Also, I suspect that she's a criminal.
So I'll vote for Johnson, which feels preferable to voting for no one. He has the merest sliver of a chance: so slender that I miss it if I blink. But if enough of us vote for him, the Libertarian party will become an official "minor party" and receive funding toward the 2020 race. (Our two-party system is failing us, I think, and our extremes are too extreme.) Johnson has political experience; he cares about immigration reform; and the things he says aren't personally triggering to me.