My favorite thing about fall is finally getting to wear jeans again. Jeans are my favorite item of clothing. It seems like every four to eight years, the fashion gods tell us that a new style is in. Remember when skinny jeans became mainstream? It was about eight years ago. Well, get ready to pack those up, because I’ve got good news. Mom jeans are back. No need to suffocate your ankles anymore. You have permission to move freely inside your pants.
As mom jeans are coming back into style, and we get a little more freedom for our lower half, let’s also get more comfortable in our politics—another thing that looks different every four to eight years. Since most of us have been wearing sweatpants since March it’s no surprise we have lost our tolerance for those suffocating skinny jeans. It’s time to shed skinny-jeans-politics. For too long, many ordinary people have felt their circulation being cut off by those kinds of politics. If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that we ALL need to put on our mom jeans and get in the game.
I understand why so many of us are disenfranchised with politics today. Even those of us who still enjoy the process, and even have a candidate we believe in, are often left feeling like our jeans are suddenly too tight when reading the news or watching political debates.
You may be afraid to engage in conversations about politics because you’re afraid you will “lose” the conversation. You might not know enough to prove your points. Or, confrontation makes you nervous.
Discussing politics shouldn’t be a contest, it should be a quest. Politics is about figuring out how we should be governed. Our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. It was designed for all of us to participate.
Staying quiet about politics abdicates the subject to the extremes. If ordinary moms stay out of it, we leave room for others to fill our space. So let’s do it, but let’s do it like moms.
Moms already know how to discuss politics. Politics is the practice of how we live together in society. We moms teach that to our kids every day. All we need to do is practice what we preach.
- If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Isn’t that obvious? It feels like it is, but we might need to remind our politicians of this! (Did you hear about that first debate?)
- Be kind and respectful. No one makes political choices in a vacuum. Something has shaped all of us and influenced our political leanings. Look past the yard sign into the house within; look past the bumper sticker to the human being driving the car. Ask yourself what might have happened in their life, or what is at stake for them that makes them put their faith into that candidate or political ideology.
- Seek to understand before being understood. Stephen Covey’s Habit #5 is really good advice for political discourse. Enter into conversations hoping to better understand another, not trying to prove your point. Try not to get defensive. The fact is, we are going to disagree with each other. We can do it graciously.
- Always tell the truth. Truth seeking is a full-time occupation these days. The most reliable truth is that which comes from your own experience. Avoid touting party lines and saying just what you think or hope is true. If you don’t know very much about a certain issue, just say so. Don’t feign omniscience in order to defend your intelligence. The smartest people are the ones willing to say that they don’t know everything.
- Be careful on social media. What you put in cyberspace stays in cyberspace. It’s just not a productive place to engage in political discourse. Period.
- Don’t talk about people behind their back (or through a screen). If you have a problem, discuss it face-to-face. Worth repeating: the internet is not a productive place to engage in political discourse. If you are offended by a friend’s political stance or statements, ask them about it next time you’re together. You will both be nicer in person, and it might be enlightening.
- Stand up to bullies. Bullying and hatred has no place in politics. If you find yourself in a conversation that has veered off course, say something, or end the conversation.
Let’s follow our own advice to our kids and discuss politics like moms. Mom jeans are back in 2020. Let’s take the new pep in our step to the voting booth and to our political conversations. We can move about more easily. What better year for us to dig in?
And by the way, since you’ve finally got some jeans on—go vote!