Published: Nov 03, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Nov 03, 2012 10:30 AM
Like many people in Chapel Hill, I am an avid Obama supporter. I lose sleep worrying about the election. Ive even had trouble writing this column since the election is always a distraction.
I get incredibly frustrated with the Republican Party because I see them as being unwilling to compromise and I often pre-judge Romney supporters. That isnt right.
2008 was my first year as a Democrat. My family and I campaigned door-to-door for Obama, and my mom and I stood at the corner of Weaver Dairy Road and MLK Boulevard for three hours on election day holding signs trying to rally people to vote.
But before that, as a third grader during the election of 2004, I had thought things through differently. I had made up my mind to support George W. Bush.
My support was based on three things. First, he had sent me a letter in response to a letter I had sent to him in second grade when we were learning about writing in school. In my letter, I told President Bush how I opposed capital punishment and hoped he would do something about it. Months later, I received a letter from the White House thanking me for my suggestions and saying something along the lines of work hard in school and dont do drugs.
During that time, I was also interested in outer space and liked Bushs idea of a manned mission to Mars.
Most important, unlike John Kerry, George Bush was not a Red Sox fan.
My political view was seldom tolerated among people my own age, nor was it always tolerated well among adults.
As I began third grade at a new school, my support for George Bush made me an easy target. When we played four square at recess, kids would gang up on me in order to get me out. One time, a kid looked me in the eye and said, We hate you because you like George Bush and slammed the ball at me with all his might. Its hard for anyone, even a third grader, to be a Republican in Chapel Hill.
I was not the only person in Chapel Hill who was targeted. Our Republican neighbor also had to deal with political intolerance when his Richard Burr sign was yanked out of his yard.
And it isnt just Republicans and Democrats going after each other. In the 1960s, the North Carolina legislature passed a law banning communists from speaking on campus. It is important on a university campus for anyone, no matter how much you disagree with them, to be able to express their ideas.
Lets not forget what happened to Tom Tancredo in 2009, when he was driven off the UNC campus before he could make his speech on immigration. A bunch of students who claimed that he was racist were unable to respectfully listen to his side of the issue as they shouted him down. Perhaps they should have stayed home. I am in total disagreement with Tancredos ideas, but I think he should have been allowed to express them.
Often we become upset with people we see as intolerant, yet in turn we respond to them in a similar manner. When we practice tolerance, it should include those of different political opinions. We do not have to accept or agree with what they are saying, but we should be willing to listen to their side of an issue in the hopes that they will in turn listen to our side.
At Carolina Friends School, we faced this challenge last spring. The overwhelming majority of the school, myself included, were against Amendment One, which prohibits gay marriage in North Carolina. We felt that we were speaking out against intolerance. Our school preaches tolerance.
At the same time, the Quaker philosophy is to be respectful of the opinions of other people. And apparently there were a few people at school who in fact supported the amendment. We debated whether or not we as an institution should officially come out against the amendment in accordance with the philosophy of tolerance or whether our philosophy of tolerance towards all opinions overrode us taking a stance. We never did come to a final conclusion, but the debate did spark interesting discussions about respecting different points of views.
When we find out the results of the election this week, I hope we can all be respectful of our opponents beliefs, no matter what side we are on.