As a new regular feature on DemCast, our very own DemCast Dottie will answer questions from blue dots spread far and wide across the United States. Questions are gathered from DemCast readers and may be edited for length and clarity (or spelling and grammar if the case may be).
To submit questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions may be published as received.
Dear DemCast Dottie,
I was so upbeat about the New Year, thinking about how great it will be when we have another Blue Wave election in November. But, here it is not even halfway through January and already the nonstop news is so overwhelming that I find myself stuck again wondering whether I can make a difference. With so many fires to put out in all directions, including the literal ones in Australia and earthquakes in Puerto Rico, how does one tiny little blue dot in an overwhelmingly red district keep her spirits up to keep fighting? I’m so tired of pretending some of these things aren’t just freaking me out!
Lonely Little Blue Dot in Valrico, Florida
Dear Lonely Little Dot,
2020 sure is off to a helluva start, ‘eh? Like you, I rang in the new year with a renewed sense of hope and purpose, only to have the news of the possible pending war resulting from the President ordering a hit on an Iranian leader suck the life right out of me. I feel your angst, Little Dot!
A good friend and mentor once gave me a piece of truly sage advice about how to handle overwhelming emotions and I’ll share it with you now: Just give yourself five minutes to bitch.
Seriously. Set a timer if you must. She used to call me, announce that she needed 5 minutes to vent, I would listen quietly as she raged, and when time was up she would take a deep breath and we would move on or create an action plan to deal with whatever had her in a tizzy.
Make a deal with a trusted friend that when needed you can call and bend their ear for five minutes (or 15 or 20 or whatever amount of time you feel you need) to just vent all of your frustrations, anger, fear and worry. When the time is up, pull your Big Blue Dot panties up and get back to whatever needs doing. In this case, get on with the business of finding a way to make a difference! (Side note: Be sure you provide this service back to your trusty pal! No one likes one-way rainy day friendships!)
Living in a heavily red district or state can be crazy isolating. I do understand. I’ve spent 99.999% of my life living in blood red districts spread across the country. But there are always like-minded folks who share your concerns even if they don’t share your party registration. Of course, finding those who do share your registration can feel much safer than trying t build relationships with those who seem to approve of the current administrations proposed new national pastime of trying to melt “liberal snowflakes.”
Even in the reddest of red districts, I have been able to find like-minded folks by volunteering with environmental and school related organizations. Sometimes, I have even been able to find a local Democratic group – either a Young Democrats, a DEC (Democratic Executive Committee), or a Democratic Women’s group. More recently, I have also found chapters of Indivisible spread from sea to shining sea.
DemCast is an excellent resource for finding your tribe and learning about issues and organizations you can volunteer to help with. There is a DemCast network setup in every state now with Facebook pages and hashtags to help you get in the loop and make connections. Click here to follow DemCast Florida on Facebook or check out #DemCastFL on Twitter!
Hugs & Cheers!
Dear DemCast Dottie,
If I have to sit politely by as one more relative spouts of nonsense about how they support Trump because “at least he says what he means,” I think I may explode. How are we supposed to make nice with people who don’t care about anything except winning?
Pissed Off Polyanna in the Panhandle
Dear Pissed Off Polyanna,
Is there a rule book that says you have to sit politely while someone spouts nonsense? I sure haven’t read it and don’t want to, to be honest.
As someone who has lived most of her life in very conservative parts of the country where plainly speaking your mind can actually be grounds for retaliation at work, I understand the need to not make waves in certain situations. But, there is no law against speaking truth to idiocy. And really, if we don’t, who will? I have found some strategies that can make the experience less of a teeth gnashing exercise in self control for those times I can’t just ask why how someone says something is remotely more important than what they’ve said, however.
Generally when I have encountered the “I just like that he says what he means,” type, I have found it useful to find a way to agree.
“Agree?!?” I can hear you saying, but hear me out…
It is very important to those who spout nonsense to feel heard, even when their opinion is an assault on reason and truth. Agreeing with them in some way is actually quite simple. You just say, “I know what you mean. So many politicians always sound so polished like they are repeating carefully rehearsed lines.”
Then start your response about why you prefer those who think before they speak.
Trust me. Finding a way to start your argument by first agreeing with an opponent who is just looking to start a fight (or end an argument by saying something ludicrous) will confuse and disorient them. They want you to get angry and flustered. Once you practice it for a while, you’ll find all sorts of ways to agree with people while explaining to them exactly how much you disagree with them. Be careful not to sound condescending of course. The big bonus is that while you are practicing this strategy, you will actually learn to be a better listener which will allow you to better understand where the opposition comes from and form even better counter arguments. Oh, and it is also very hard to irately scream and yell at someone who refuses to let you get under their skin.
Like I teach my children, “He who yells first, loses.”
Now, all that being said, if what they like is just being able to say whatever racist, misogynistic, bigoted thing they feel like, you absolutely have no duty to further engage in any kind of conversation at all, no matter what the circumstances may be.
In recent years, I’ve drawn great strength in some of these moments by remembering my authority as a mother. If my children are nearby, I simply say, “We don’t allow such talk in front of the kids.” Perhaps I add that “I would sure like to be able to turn the television on again without worrying what the kids might hear.” That shames most obnoxious trolls into silence.
And, for those who feel comfortable invoking a higher power in those situations where you know the listener has no interest in what you actually think and you prefer to maintain your Zen rather than engage in a pointless battle, I’ve recently discovered a new version of the old shaming standby we Southern Mamas use when the time has come to nip a conversationalist right between the eyes, “Bless Your Heart.”
“Wow. You have a lot of anger in your heart. I’ll pray for you.”
Giving yourself permission to just walk or look away and nonverbally say “ENOUGH” in these contentious times is sometimes the only polite thing to be done.
Hugs & Cheers!
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