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I'm Right — You're Wrong

by Rose Madeline Mula

No doubt about it. Whether elections determine winners by the narrowest of questionable margins or by landslides, they don't change the minds of voters. If our candidate wins, great! It's only right, after all. But if he or she loses, the result was a disastrous fluke.

The arguments that support our candidate, our party, our views, are all so logical! So right! So indisputable! Those that hype the other person's opinion, on the other hand, are ridiculously feeble. We can squabble until Bill Clinton enters a monastery or George Bush learns how to pronounce "nuclear," but nothing we say is going to change the other's mind.

You think the acrimony between various candidates is intense? Hey, that's nothing compared to the bitterness between their supporters which lingers long after election winners and losers make nice, at least in public.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that heated political campaigns and the ensuing results can destroy marriages, demolish friendships, decimate condo communities, and even divide kindergarten classes.

If you love "X," you hate "Y," and you simply cannot understand how anyone in his or her right mind could possibly disagree. I mean, please! It's so obvious that your choice is the only right one. It also follows that you are convinced that Leno, Letterman, and the SNL cast are undeniably brilliant when they make sarcastic remarks about "Y," but are slanderous and idiotic when they snipe at "X."

I know, I know. I'm wimping out by using alphabetical designations instead of actual IDs; but if I name names, I'll be sure to alienate half my readers. I learned my lesson when I recklessly disclosed my political leanings to my friends, Jane and John Doe. (No way am I identifying them either.) The result was a fiery debate during dinner at their house a few weeks ago. They are both bullishly "X"; but Jane, after trying unsuccessfully to shut John up, diplomatically (and cowardly) managed to remove herself from the argument by going out to the kitchen to load the dishwasher, wash the floor, repaint the ceiling, feed the cat And they don't even have a cat. She borrowed one from next door.

But John didn't need her back-up. He was on a roll-eyeballs popping, index finger stabbing, spewing his party's line and grilling me like I was a suspect in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. (I swear I had nothing to do with that. I was at home at my spinning wheel at the time.) I kept repeating "I don't want to discuss it!" But John continued his barrage, even when I blocked my ears and loudly sang God Bless America. I could have simply gone home, of course; but we hadn't had dessert yet, so leaving really wasn't an option.

A few days later, John phoned. Finally, I thought. An apology. Hardly.

"I don't suppose you've been reading the latest about "X" and "Y," he huffed. "I most certainly have," I said. "And what have you learned from that?" he asked triumphantly. "That I'm right and you're wrong," I retorted. Obviously we had each been reading different sources — I the unbiased, accurate newspapers and magazines, and he those that distorted the facts.

Nevertheless, I finally persuaded John and Jane that we should call a truce and banish politics from our conversation. We're grown-ups, after all. We should be able to rise above endless, childish bickering. To seal the deal, I invited them to my house for dinner next week. It will be a relief to enjoy a relaxing, friendly evening again.

Also, it will give me an opportunity to set them straight on an apparent misconception they have about the Pope and the Catholic church.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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