There are a few things all parents should teach their children about table manners. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Say please and thank you. Wait until everyone has been served before eating. While these are all important, at my house we have one extra rule, one rule that supersedes all others: don’t talk about politics at the dinner table.
If you do, the best-case scenario is that someone will grumble or try to change the subject. The worst-case scenario is that someone with an opposing viewpoint will yell at you and lob the mashed potatoes at your head and you’ll spend the rest of the night plotting ways to get even. Not exactly a good use of family fun time.
After four years of college and living away from home, I attend fewer family dinners, which is good because I also have a harder time keeping my mouth shut. But it’s easy to say the right thing when you know which uncle is a Democrat, which grandpa is a Republican and who has the best aim with the potatoes.
But if politics has invaded family life, it has become even more pervasive in another facet of life – the love life. And even if nobody’s throwing potatoes, dating and politics mix like.well, Democrats and Republicans: only if forced, not often and rarely well. After all, there’s no way to immediately tell who bats right, left or even for the other team. In the dating world, there’s no easy way to tell if two people will agree on politics today.
So when it comes to dating and politics, how can anyone hope to manage the new politics of dating?
With the Democrats controlling the legislature and the announcement of “presidential exploratory committees” from Barack, Hillary and some random white guys, it seems that politics is on everyone’s minds and thus, in the middle of everyone’s love life. The new pick-up line isn’t “What’s your sign?” or even “Can I Facebook you?” It’s “Who would you vote for in 2008?”
And unlike the rules of the dinner table, there aren’t any dating rules of engagement. I firmly believe in the adage “All’s fair in love and war.” Except that it just wouldn’t be fair to meet a fantastic guy, only to find out that we disagree about everything except vodka vs. tequila, because there is clearly only one right answer to this.
So it’s amazing that, with all this in mind, we still continue to date.
If only there were a way to automatically eliminate those with whom you don’t see eye to ideological eye with, and instead seek out like-minded members of the opposite sex (or the same sex) to pursue. Oh wait, there is. If online dating is something you go for.
For those who put their political passion before the zing of their heartstrings, there are Web sites that allow would-be lovers to cruise for others who wear the same shade of red or blue. Apparently the other adage “Opposites Attract” doesn’t apply here.
But for those of us who prefer to do it the old-fashioned way (i.e., those of us who can’t put on the big girl pants and bring up politics on a date) there is always, well, doing it the old-fashioned way: meeting someone at a bar, avoiding the political talk altogether and Facebook-stalking them when you get home.
Hilary Davis is a senior technical journalism major. Her column appears in the Collegian on Fridays. Replies and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.