To say that this election season has been ungraceful would be a gross understatement. It’s been a doozy. For me it’s been a mirror of sorts, and a mortifying one at that. Those who have known me for a long time would look at the comparison of me 5 years ago and now they would say, “What happened?” I can identify with this explanation.
You see, I too used to be a evangelical one issue voter, that one issue being abortion (although the “sanctity of marriage” is a close second). So I can identify with the reactionary righteous indignation at any platform or candidate that hints otherwise from my conservative friends. I see you. I was you. I have spent more then half of my life aligning myself with and participating in pro-life activism on the evangelical front.
I could afford to be a one issue voter. I was young, white, and privileged. I had barely started living my adult life and I was sheltered from how cruel life can be. Never did I contemplate to what detriment such tunnel vision could have for those outside my particular demographic. After all, what greater cause is there than life? What more vulnerable life than an unborn baby? It just made sense. I was able to read between the lines of “vote your conscience” and “choose life” to understand that the Christian churches and school I attended believed that republican = good and democrat = bad.
I didn’t make a 180 turn around in my political leanings in an instant. It was a gradual “How could I have been so very selfish? How could I not see?” However, it didn’t come without shame. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t even vote in the 2012 election because I was so nervous about what the outcome of voting blue would mean in my various professional and social circles at the time. It has been a sobering journey to come to grips that I no longer fit the mold of that conservative evangelical ideal.
The unique thing about the 2016 election is that with our candidates, this isn’t even a question of who the moral candidate is, because frankly there isn’t one. What we do have is one candidate who is qualified to be president and one who is not.
Could it be that this tunnel vision on abortion is actually contributing to more abortions and not less? When confronted with facts, would the far right rather have a “pro-life” candidate that is tough on legislation while having higher abortion rates or a candidate that believes in a woman’s right to choose with lower abortion rates? The evidence seems to suggest that the numbers of abortions go down under democratic leadership. In fact, the abortion rate has dropped by 13% under the Obama administration.
It is easy to jump in wholeheartedly to one issue politics when many of the other issues don’t directly affect you. As a young conservative I never would have thought twice about social programs, race relations, disabled rights, or immigration (just to name a few). I regret to say that I was so absorbed in my evangelical circle of being in the world and not of the world that I didn’t see how considering a narrow focus to be a virtue could hurt my fellow human beings nationally and around the world.
I took some punches from the real world that shook up my political foundation. All of a sudden, I could no longer minimize the challenges that single mothers face to a simple point of rhetoric. I was living it. Gaining friendships with undocumented people and eventually marrying one forced me to take a hard look at how cold the stance on the right is on immigration. I could no longer feign detachment even if I wanted to, in respect to the real issues undocumented people face. I held my breath when my husband (then boyfriend) was detained by border patrol merely on racial profiling. There was no cause to hold him and he was in the final stages of obtaining his DACA certification.
When my son was diagnosed with Autism, the stigmatizing cure culture rhetoric of the GOP could no longer do for us. When the Clinton campaign recently put this ad out it was a painful reminder that it took me having a disabled child to start truly giving a damn about this issue with my vote.
In fact, if you look at Donald Trump’s website there is not one single mention of any type of plan to benefit disabled people. If you can find one, I would gladly edit this post.
This mirror, this 2016 election season has been a tough one for me to look through. Maybe I was more self-centered than most one issue voters, but it is clear to me that the danger of such tunnel vision is not worth the risk of continuing in this vein. When I was a one issue voter, I clung so tightly to my ideals, even to the point of cutting people out of my life that would dare take a counter stance to what I thought a good Conservative Christian girl should believe. Ironically I am finally empathizing with the frustration that my liberal friends must have had at my inability to see how I was so completely missing the point even though my intentions were pure.
In the midst of the chaos I see a lot of discussion cautioning that we should be careful not to lose friends over politics. Generally I would agree with that. It is absolutely possible to see the worth, value, and potential of people who don’t agree with me politically, but when clinging to the narrow scope of one issue politics means that you are okay with racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism, one must ask themselves, “Is this a healthy friendship to have?”
Even today I am restoring relationships that I destroyed because of my close-mindedness. I am humbled that they would be interested after what damage my intolerance had wrought. As for this election, I am a different kind of one issue voter entirely.