Political discussions can quickly become political arguments. Let’s face it. It’s rare we ever change someone’s political opinion to that of our own. We all have areas within politics that are near and dear to our hearts. Therefore, what may be important to us may not be important to someone else, rendering your political argument a moot point.
Since my trips to both Austin and D.C., I’ve promised you a political etiquette mini-series, and I’m here to deliver. I’d like to start with the basics. Unless you are at a political forum or arena (appropriate word, given some of the outcomes I’ve witnessed), the best course of action is to truly steer clear of political debates. This is not to say you can’t have conversations of depth. It is to imply that it’s rare for a political discussion to have a change of someone’s thoughts.
If you are actually at a political forum, keep the discussion relevant to the topic at hand. Allow the candidate the opportunity to complete a thought before you respond. With any other attendee at the forum, remember they are not the candidate, regardless of how supportive they may seem.
Taboo topics are anything personally related. It does not matter if the candidate’s son has 50 tattoos. It does not matter if his or her daughter is obese. What matters, in this capacity, is the candidate’s ability to serve. There’s no sense in wasting an opportunity bashing a candidate personally, when you could use the time to learn more about his or her political beliefs.
In person, the term congressman is usually in reference to someone in the House of Representatives at the national level, such as Congressman Smith. It may, however, be used for the members of Senate, as well. Erroneously, “senator” is sometimes used. The term senator may not be used for someone in the House of Representatives.
In the end, we are all more than our political affiliation or lack thereof, and it’s important we keep this in mind.