Let’s Not Talk Politics

Dear non-Americans,

When it comes to talking about American national politics, you might want to back off.  We are way touchier than we let on, and as a culture we do not casually discuss our politics with… you.  We barely discuss it with each other.

To be clear, yes, I do have political conversations with other Americans, and since I have always had close friends who were conservative, we do talk about the hard stuff.  But you have to know that 1) these are close friends, not just people I met at a meetup, and 2) these conversations are private; no one is there to overhear.  In America sincere two-way discourse just does not happen in public anymore.  And sometimes, even in private conversations with close friends that agree, someone gets too aggressive, and the topic gets changed.

So anyway, this summer somewhere in Asia, I don’t remember exactly who; someone… asked me, “Do you think Obama is going to be re-elected?”

I said “Yes.”

“Really?” she asked, “but he hasn’t done anything…

So I thought about the end of the Iraq war (despite fierce opposition), and the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (despite fierce, erratic opposition), health care reform (despite people losing their minds) and all the other things listed here; but instead of engaging her, I did what my first instinct as an American told me to do, which is end that damn conversation.

Mind you, she is not an American so she might actually have provided stimulating discourse that might have done me some good, but… no.  She might have been just making small talk, as political small talk is acceptable and polite all over the world; she might have been trying to be nice.  However…

Talking politics (and religion) is not polite conversation among Americans, and you may ask “why?” but there is no why; this is our culture, and that’s the way it is whether you understand it or not, whether you like it or not.  Americans get clubbed all the time with the “hey, that’s our culture” argument, and guess what, we have a culture too, and in our culture, politics is not polite conversation.

On top of that, I feel ZERO need to try to persuade someone who doesn’t even vote in the US.  So forget it.  End of conversation.

Four years ago, my coworkers back in China were discussing the finer points of American politics at the lunch counter… correction:  the non-American coworkers were discussing it (clumsily); the Americans were either silent or, like me, had already bugged the hell out of that conversation.  Anyway, after that discussion was over, one of them came to me, presumably speaking for the group, saying “We think we all should be allowed to vote, because the American presidential election effects all of us.”

She looked at me and fully expected me to engage.  For my part, I drained all expression from my body until I felt as lifeless as a faculty administrator.  And I said, “if you want to vote in the American election, you can apply for citizenship in the United States of America.”

I think she could already tell that I was ending the conversation there, but she started a reluctant answer anyway, something like “Yah, well I don’t want to have to….” I’m not sure how her sentence ended, because I had physically left the room by that point.

My friends, I don’t vote in your elections.  If you’re serious about wanting the right to vote in ours, you may begin with the naturalization form and then continue by paying some taxes.  I was trying to not be offended by the whole situation, but of course I was.

Even more offensive was the time my boss, an English man, was joking happily with everyone at the lunch counter, making some cracks about the incompetence of the liberals or whatever, and I happened to walk by.  “JP,” he said, “can I buy your vote?”

I don’t think he fully understood what an offensive question this is to an American citizen.  If there’s a price at which I will sell my birthright, you cannot afford it.

“YES.”  I said angrily. “Give me your money. Let’s see it.”  There was a hard look on my face as I walked away, and that’s the last I heard about American politics from that worthless pile of runny monkey shit.  I went to Tumwater High School, shitbird.

_____

  1.  qīngwā: frog
  2. 井 jǐng: a well
  3. 秋天 qiūtiān: autumn; fall
  4. 吹拂 chuīfú: to brush / to caress (of breeze) / to praise
  5. 草原 cǎoyuán: grassland; prairie
  6. 古老 gǔlǎo: ancient; old
  7. 遠 yuǎn: far; distant; remote
  8. 歌聲 gēshēng: singing; singing voice
  9. 傳 chuán, zhuàn: pass on; hand down; to spread / biography; tale
  10. 只 zhǐ, zhī: only; merely; just; but / (mw for birds and certain animals)
  11. 隻 zhī: (mw for birds and certain animals)
  12. 年輕 niánqīng: young
  13. 跳 tiào: to jump; to hop; to skip
  14. 呀 ya: ah; oh; (used for 啊 after words ending with a, e, i, o, or ü)
  15. 輩子 bèizi: all one’s life; lifetime
  16. 懷念 huáiniàn: cherish the memory of; think fondly of
  17. 次 : (mw for number of times of occurrence); nth; order
  18. 難忘 nánwàng: memorable
  19. 冒險 màoxiǎn: take a risk; take chances
  20. 於是 yúshì: as a result; thus; therefore
  21. 從頭 cóngtóu: from the beginning; anew
  22. 遍 biàn: a time; everywhere; turn; (mw for times or turns)
  23. 自己 zìjǐ: oneself; self
  24. 居然 jūrán: unexpectedly; to one’s surprise; go so far as to
  25. 霸佔 bàzhàn: occupy by force; seize; dominate
  26. 算是 suànshì: be considered as; be regarded as
  27. 祖傳 zǔchuán: handed down over generations; passed on from ancestors
  28. 遺產 yíchǎn: heritage; legacy
  29. 位置 wèizhi: position; place; seat
  30. 隱密 yǐnmì: secret; hidden
  31. 算 suàn: to calculate; regard as; to figure; to compute
  32. 偶爾 ǒu’ěr: occasionally; once in a while; sometimes
  33. 發現 fāxiàn: discover; to find
  34. 只要 zhǐyào: so long as; if only; provided that
  35. 嚇唬 xiàhu: scare; frighten
  36. 齜牙咧嘴 zīyáliězuǐ: to grimace (in pain); to show one’s teeth (fierce)
  37. 番 fān: (mw for acts or deeds); foreign
  38. 只能 zhǐnéng: can only; not having any other choice; obliged to do sth.
  39. 羨慕 xiànmù: to envy; admire
  40. 眼光 yǎnguāng: vision
  41. 依依 yīyī: regret leaving; reluctant to part; (onomatopoeia) young leaves stir gently in the wind
  42. 不捨 bùshě: reluctant to part with (sth or sb) / unwilling to let go of
  43. 捕捉 bǔzhuō: catch; to seize
  44. 生命 shēngmìng: life
  45. 危險 wēixiǎn: danger; dangerous; perilous
  46. 捕獲 bǔhuò: capture
  47. 飼養 sìyǎng: to raise; to rear (domestic animal)
  48. 當作 dàngzuò: treat as; regard as; look upon
  49. 言論 yánlùn: expression of (political) opinion; speech
  50. 週到 zhōudào: thoughtful; considerate; thorough
  51. 如 : if; as if; such as; for example
  52. 詳 xiáng: detailed; complete; comprehensive
  53. 祈禱 qídǎo: to pray
  54. 祥 xiáng: good luck; good omen; propitious
  55. 幫助 bāngzhù: help; assist; aid
  56. 呼吸 hūxī: breathe
  57. 氣體 qìtǐ: gas (i.e. gaseous substance)
  58. 氧 yǎng: oxygen
  59. 群 qún: crowd; group; (mw for groups, flocks, or swarms)
  60. 本身 běnshēn: itself; in itself; per se
  61. 包含 bāohán: contain; embody; include
  62. 戔 jiān: small; tiny

2 thoughts on “Let’s Not Talk Politics

  1. This being said, now that I’ve lived in America, I think it might be better if people talked politics with each other – rather than listen to the negative and damaging propaganda that the dialogue is swapped for on the television. Somehow, the act of conversing with someone of a different opinion keeps you grounded in reality. Whereas listening to a one-way tirade sensationalized for ratings’ worth seems to only inflame.

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