Stuttering and Politics 2

I spoke yesterday about introspection after the election. Trying to see the world from someone else’s eyes and understand that I can’t just shove my views down another’s throat. I have to stop and listen and really digest. And you’d think that would come naturally to me as someone who stutters. I’m not often judged by my speaking, but when I am, I obviously hate it, and I wish others would sit in my shoes for ten minutes and understand my journey.

Today I want to expand on politics and my stuttering. Asking myself, ok, so if you want a particular candidate to win, what are you willing to do? And the answer is, other than speaking to my like-minded friends and family, not much. And yes, I know that’s sad and pathetic.But again, stuttering.

To me, my view of helping a candidate revolves around calling people on the phone or knocking on doors. Talking to people. I understand that campaigning is much, much more than that. There are jobs that don’t involve speaking. But for a long time that’s how I saw it, and that’s burned in. Talking to strangers is potentially confrontational and scary. I’ll stutter — and then I start thinking — ok, the stuttering is fine with me (now in life) but wouldn’t that reflect on my message and my candidate? Hopefully not. 

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing over the next few years, politics-wise. And I also have to ask myself, maybe I’m just not the kind of person to do that, period? Maybe I’m content sitting on the sidelines like so many others. 

I can see how an impassioned voter would be angry at me. I get that. But being angry at me and leaving me doesn’t do anybody any good. I think too often we do that. We need to dig in and find out what the “block” might be. Fluent people can be anti-social, too! And surely there are those who stutter who are saying screw it and cold calling households.

Stuttering and Politics

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the election and the past few months, and the media, and the polls, and the enormous support that came through for our next president. I thought about how I was lulled into thinking it’d go one way and it really didn’t. I thought it might even be a landslide, an early night.

But what do I know? 
Well, that’s the point. What do I know? And how do I know it? I stutter, so I’m inclined not to talk as much to people. To really dig in, to get into the details. To not only make small talk, but then get into taboo topics like politics and religion.

That means I have my bubble. My immediate family (I can influence my kids, so what) and then on facebook a lot of like-minded friends who I grew up with or have gone to college with. We pass around the same stories and memes and whatever else. Read the same polls. I assume they are going through the same things I’m going through, and feeling the same things.

But they’re obviously not.

What one person hears and what they think isn’t what I hear or think. Could we talk about it? Yeah, we could, but again, there’s distance, frequency and then the stuttering. And why would I want to talk politics on the phone with someone who I haven’t talked to in months? There are other things to catch up on.

What’s outside of my bubble? Different experiences, different influences. If I talk to a close friend, they might eventually tell me about a parent who’s recently lost a job or is going through a medical issue. They might tell me about a college roommate who is struggling. And these points have influence. They become more important. They take precedence over character and get to the heart of one’s station in America.

But again, that’s a lot of talking. And I’m inclined to be more comfortable (and more fluent) with “the choir.” So when you tell me about the majority of Americans who are frustrated and angry, I don’t have a direct connection. I may read it here and there, but it’s not my daily.

It’s easy for me to be dismissive about our next president based on his behavior thus far. But what I really should be doing is reaching out to others, stuttering-be-damned and find out what’s making them so dismissive about politics as usual.

Stuttering and Politics

So yesterday in the States they had the midterm elections. Since I live here in Saudi, the results don’t really change much for my day-to-day life. And since I’m not sure when we’re moving back …

What I wanted to talk about today is politics. I’m not here to discuss my specific views on various subjects, but rather how I came to have them — or not.

The thing about politics is that it always boils down to discussing and arguing. An oral exercise. You can have an opinion on something, and if you want to let you friends know, you have to state the position, then articulate something clear and meaningful to support it. You have to listen to their arguments and refute them. You have to understand where they’re coming from, probe them, challenge them, and then maybe agree to disagree.

That’s a lot of … talking.

Can you do it by e-mails or texts? Sure. Just read through the comments section on any political news story and let me know how convincing that strategy is.

I’ve not been able to see this any other way. And even if I could articulate something slowly and somewhat clearly to a friend the first time, it doesn’t mean I can do it all the time. It doesn’t mean that I’ll have the same confidence, either.

Because of all this, I’ve never really been that political. There’s a lot of criticism out there that people don’t “care” about politics, that they may not vote or get engaged. But could it just be a communication issue? Oftentimes we see that the winners are the ones spending the most money or yelling the loudest.

I think back in college and possibly earlier, I saw debating as something I would never be able to do. I thought that if I stuttered, the other person would see this as a weakness and walk all over me and my words.

So what can we do? What can someone who stutters do if they’re interested in politics? In debate? In getting up in front of a large group and arguing that their school policy be changed, or that they’d be a decent candidate for office?

A person who stutters would first have to get past the fact that their stutter alone won’t lose them the debate. Once past this, I’d reason that an insane amount of reading and preparation would help. And just being calm during a debate. I’d imagine that even the process of debate preparation would help — speaking out loud, trying various phrases and angles over and over again. Building confidence.

The thing about being over prepared is that it tells the other party (as well as the audience) that wow, this person’s content is spot-on. They really know their stuff. It puts the spotlight on material instead of how that material is coming out of your mouth.

I’ve never done Toastmasters (I’m not against trying it now) nor did I do anything debate-wise in school growing up. But now that I think about it, it probably would have helped. Maybe not enter a life of politics per se, but at least get me out of my comfort zone and get me thinking and talking about different topics.

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