POSTED ON NOVEMBER 7, 2012:
I'm in a Red State of MindHow to survive in a red state when you're blue
Several months ago, I posted the following comment on my Facebook page:
"I'm BLACK and a DEMOCRAT in OKLAHOMA. It doesn't get any more minority than that!"
A friend of mine promptly left this comment on my page:
"Try being white and a Democrat in Oklahoma. ... Not easy. Thanks for outing me."
This conversation is just a small example of the strange dichotomy of being blue in a red state. Something is definitely amiss when even the average white guy in Oklahoma does not want people to know that he is blue. To make matters worse, the so-called blue politicians in this state go out of their way in their political ads to characterize themselves as everything but what they actually are. In contrast, the red politicians do some heavy duty chest-pounding in their ads, extolling their red virtues as a selling point.
So the question is this: How does a blue person navigate through the trouble spots of this perceived second-class citizenry? Here are a few suggestions:
--Always have your talking points ready in your mental file cabinet. I am sure no one goes out looking for a confrontation, but it is almost impossible to not find yourself in a political conversation with a red person in this state, especially in an election year. That person could be a friend, coworker, or even a relative, but I assure you, it is going to happen. When it does, be ready. Know the issues, both local and national, and be able to defend your position. Do not just regurgitate something you heard on a cable news network. Do the research.
Please know that no matter how much research you do and how many facts you think you have, you will NOT change a red person's mind, no matter what evidence you may have to the contrary. If things get too hostile, somebody has to take the high road and if that has to be you, so be it. Like my mother used to say, you can disagree without being disagreeable. My mom is awesome. ... But that's another story.
--Assume everyone is red until you know for sure that they are blue. Let's say you have not quite completed enough talking points to put in your mental file cabinet to stave off the most ravenous red person or maybe you are just not in the mood for a political argument. The last thing you want is to unwittingly fall into one of these conversations simply because you were not paying attention to your surroundings. In this particular situation, your best bet is to assume everyone around you is red. This will keep you from making an off-the-cuff remark that could result into a full-blown showdown.
However, if you are not sure about those around you and you really want to know if they are red or not, just ask a subtle question like, "Hey, so what do you think about that Barack Obama?" You are sure to get a rousing response one way or another.
--If you encounter another blue person at work, speak in hushed tones. On average, it is pretty tough to find more than a few blue people in any given office setting, so if you find another blue person in your office, try your best to control your excitement. If you want to discuss politics with your blue co-worker, go to the break room to talk or go out to lunch. Either way, be careful not to talk too loud so that you are not heard by the throngs of red people who might be hanging around. If they hear you, there is a chance that they might want to participate in your conversation and that could get ugly.
--Pick and choose your battles. One of the stranger things about living in a red state is that red people assume everyone around them is also red. I can't count how many times I have been in a social or business setting with a group of people and had to sit by silently while outrageous anti-blue comments were casually hurled like grenades. Yes, in those instances, I could have probably said something, but what good would that have done? I was outmanned and outgunned and my mental file cabinet was not big enough to take on a room full of red people. In these types of scenarios, a blue person has to be more strategic about when and where to speak up. Save your artillery for a battle that is worth fighting.
--There is strength in numbers. The best way to find other blue people in Oklahoma is to get involved in local politics. Now, before anyone takes this the wrong way, I am not saying that if someone is blue, they should only hang around other blue people. Heck, some of my best friends are red. I just believe that there should be a balance of blue and red people in any person's life. So if you're blue and all you see every day is red people, then get involved in someone's campaign that you believe in and add a little blue to your palette.
If you are reading this and have not figured out yet that I wrote this with tongue firmly in cheek, here is your official notice. In all seriousness though, being blue in a red state like Oklahoma can truly be frustrating. However, we blue people love where we live and even though we are outnumbered, we would not want to be anywhere else. That's the great thing about the country we live in. We can have differing views, but at the end of the day, we are all Americans and it is because we all see things differently that our country is so great. Hey, I have been married to my wife for twenty years, and I still don't agree with everything she says. That doesn't mean I don't love her any less than I did when I married her. It is the mixture of the red, the blue, and everything in between that makes the United States the envy of other countries.
Like my mom used to say, we can all disagree as long as we keep our civility. My mom is really awesome. ... I'm just saying. ...
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