Stop talking, I've already labeled you
I took a bit of a hiatus from social media this winter. And by social media, I mean over-50-social-media, i.e., Facebook with a sprinkling of Twitter and enough LinkedIn to make me feel like I’m working. Instagram is hard and weird, Snapchat – why? And TikTok seems redundant after China already hacked the Office of Personnel Management database a decade ago and stole my detailed personal information.
When I dove back in with some political posts in recent weeks I should not have been surprised that exactly nothing has changed. Very few read past a headline and my “label” remains etched indelibly in the minds of my friends.
Of course, that label is different depending on who you are. And because I am a moderate Republican, I get the trash talk from both sides. I’m not right-wing enough for a lot of conservatives, while the liberals see me as hating children, women, minorities, and looking for new opportunities to oppress all the above.
No one wants a conversation, and that is a shame because I know a lot of really cool people.
A few weeks back I posted an insightful column by Peggy Noonan. I love Peggy Noonan. She was Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter in the White House, and also worked for George H.W. Bush. I had my first job as a speechwriter in 1992, just as she was leaving the White House.
Noonan, ideology aside, is a brilliant writer. I highly recommend her book, On Speaking Well, for anyone who works as a speechwriter or speech giver. Her Thursday column in The Wall Street Journal is a can’t-miss for me.
The column I posted shared a lot of historical background about Reagan and then offered some opinion about the then-potential indictment of Donald Trump. The point was that the Stormy Daniels case was a hollow one, and Trump had greater bogeys on the horizon with other ongoing investigations in Georgia and at the Department of Justice.
I agreed with the sentiment wholeheartedly and posted a free link through my subscription. A friend of four decades quickly posted a comment noting my anti-Trump bias with no other context.
Like I was somehow an enemy because I previously expressed my own opinion regarding the GOP nominee in 2016 and 2020. Last I checked, presidential primaries were contested events.
You know, when it comes to President Trump, I feel about him the way I feel about every president. I want the president of the United States to succeed. As Americans we should all want our elected leader to do their very best.
Since I have been voting, I have wanted Bush 41 to succeed. I wanted Clinton to succeed. I wanted Bush 43 to succeed. I wanted Obama to succeed. I wanted Trump to succeed. I want Biden to succeed. I have thoughts about the 2024 GOP nominee, and who I think will be the most successful. That individual will get my vote in the primary.
Regardless of the outcome, I want whoever is sworn in in January 2025 to be successful.
This week, I posted last week’s column which described some people doing good things for New Mexico children ended with a quiet request for conversation. Another friend from grade school asked how one can still be a Republican. From the other side of the aisle, but still throwing out a label. Then came a long post about bad things Republican lawmakers in other states are doing.
No conversation about the actual topic, which was improving outcomes for children.
This is not how we bridge a divide.
We have to stop seeing ourselves first in political or policy discussions and start seeing affected populations. Because that’s what the responses I described were. Smart, thoughtful people reflecting themselves in my commentary and reacting.
Please, let’s think larger. It’s not about being the first or smartest person at the table. It’s time to listen and offer ideas. Our state and our nation need this. Badly.
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She appears regularly as a panelist on NM PBS and is a frequent guest on News Radio KKOB. A Republican, she lives amicably with her Democratic husband north of I-40 where they run two head of dog, and two of cat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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