(Photo courtesy of Sarah Lewis)
(Photo courtesy of Sarah Lewis)

By SARAH LEWIS, Editor-in-Chief

I picked up my absentee ballot for the November election last week. This is the first time I’ve ever voted in an election, and needless to say, I am beyond excited.

Everyone has been saying they can’t wait until the election is over so things can “go back to normal,” but I have to say that I think it’s riveting to hear about everyone’s political beliefs, whether or not I agree with them. It’s one of the subjects that can make people really light up, and I’ve never seen anything wrong with an intellectual debate.

I’ve been engaged in politics for almost as long as I can remember. It wasn’t like my family forced politics on me or anything, but I just found myself interested in the topic. In third grade, my best friend and I talked about how we wanted Al Gore to win the election while we were on the swing set during recess. That happened. Before I decided on journalism as a career, I dabbled in Political Science, but quickly changed my mind.

Although I am rather firm in my political beliefs and the party I stand behind, I don’t hate people who don’t see the same way as me. My best friend told me she liked a new guy, and then proceeded to tell me that I wouldn’t like him because he was a Republican. I couldn’t help but think, “Is this real life?”

Just because I don’t see eye to eye with someone’s political beliefs does not mean that I hate them. With the election just a week away, I know that discussions can get heated, but remember to take a step back from the baseball bat clutching and think of civility. Republicans and Democrats have been at each others’ throats lately, but political beliefs shouldn’t affect our personal relationships. Do I have family members who don’t agree with my politics? Sure. Do I hate my family? Obviously not.

Sometimes it’s important to realize that you cannot influence a person no matter how hard you try. I can tell you I’ve got Obama’s back all day long, but I’m sure my voice isn’t going to sway a Romney supporter. Of course, if someone is using ridiculously false information in their argument, feel free to call them out on it.

Let’s say the person you are debating is trying to convince people that Obama was born in Africa. At this point you have to make a choice.

A. Are you going to debate them and yell at them until they hate you and Obama more than they did at the beginning of the conversation?
B. Are you going to slap them in the face with a piece of pizza?
C. Are you going to steer them back to politics instead of birther claims?
D. Are you going to calmly excuse yourself from the conversation?

Although I DREAM of slapping someone with a piece of pizza, it is probably for the best to opt for either option C or D. I avoid debating at all costs during election season, not because I am afraid of losing, but I would rather keep my friends. While I’m not a fan of arguing about beliefs, it’s okay to express your feelings calmly. Comparing thoughts doesn’t mean you have to scream and leave the room wanting to punch someone in the face.

It’s easy to get frustrated when people don’t agree with you, especially if it’s about a subject you’re passionate about. If you feel like you want to smack your friend with a slice of Papa Romano’s because they don’t agree with you, step back and put the pizza down. I promise it’s not worth it. By all means, hold onto your beliefs, but make sure you let everyone else hold onto theirs as well.