Hello, October: month of endless campaign ads, political rhetoric and healthy (or unhealthy) debate. Personally, I’m ready for this election to be over, just so that I can watch commercials about soap and potato chips, but I digress. As Americans, we are so lucky to have the right to free speech, the right to vote for our favorite candidate and the right to help shape the future of our great country. But sometimes, being part of the military community can confuse what is considered “okay” and what is considered “taboo” to talk about when it comes to politics.
Our service members have rules governing their political actions while representing the armed forces, but what about spouses? We are not bound by the same rules as our service members, yet as milspouses, politics can sometimes get sticky. So how do you handle it? Here are some ideas to help you navigate those sticky situations.
NOTE: I’d like to add that I’m offering these tips from one milspouse to another. These are in no way “official DoD guidelines for military spouses.” I’m just telling you what works for me.
Don’t discuss politics at military events. Have you ever seen your spouse squirm uncomfortably in uniform? I have. Whenever the topic of politics comes up, he goes into “ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!” mode. We decided a long time ago that while at military events, we would try our best to refrain from discussing our personal political opinions.
Don’t put political signs in your front yard or on your vehicle. I am very proud of my political party, and I’m very passionate about politics. Having said that, I don’t want to do anything that might make my husband feel uncomfortable, or put him in a tough situation at work. So, I refrain from publicly endorsing a candidate in our front yard—or on my car…that he may drive…to work. Call me overly cautious. I’m just sayin’.
I keep my political actions off of social media. Everyone has the right to free speech, and it sometimes seems like there is nothing more full of “speech” than social media. I *gasp* have protested in Washington about issues I’m passionate about. I highly recommend everyone do it once in their lives. But, I didn’t share my pictures about it on Facebook. I keep my comments about politics mostly off social media, too. Why? Because at the end of the day, I’m friends with lots of different people on social media—military, non-military, friends, coworkers, family, etc. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just feel strongly that my political beliefs are very personal and aren’t to be shared with everyone and their brother.
If the subject comes up, I keep the conversation polite. As I’m sure you can tell, I avoid discussing politics outside of my “circle of trust” much like a cat avoids water. But, the topic will inevitably come up. Here are some important points to remember.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Express your opinion respectfully.
Appreciate that the right to express differing political opinions is what makes this country great.
We are all on the same team!
At the end of the day, we are all Americans who want to see our nation and the American people prosper. We may have different views on what it might take to get there. We may feel passionate about certain issues that are typically supported by one party or another. But that doesn’t make the opposing party’s supporters and candidates bad. It just makes them different. They are not immoral. They do not lack values. They just might not feel the same way you do. Take the time to listen and learn from one another. You might be surprised by what you learn about yourself in the process.