My News Feed As a Sign of Changing Times

I currently have 1,008 Facebook friends. Approximately 90% of them are Southern Evangelical Christians from my hometown and/or my college. I have always been able to rely on my Facebook friends to provide a slice of conservatives’ opinions about the current news cycle. In the past, I have usually disagreed with most of them most of the time.

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Image credit: pixabay.com

Take the 2008 election, for instance. My Facebook friends were figuratively frothing at the mouth when Obama was elected. I saw lots of posts about “Praying for this country in these dark days” and “Remember, our first allegiance is to God’s kingdom, not rulers on this earth,” and the like. There was some birtherism, too–“Everyone knows Obama isn’t a legitimate president,” “Show me the birth certificate” etc. I’ve written before about how I came to vote for Obama in 2008. As I appeared to be in the vast minority at the time, I was afraid to publicly disagree and start an argument, so I stayed silent.

The passing of healthcare reform in 2010 was more of the same. “Great to know that now our healthcare system will go down the toilet like Canada’s” and “This will ruin my doctor husband’s career” etc. But I was a little bolder this time. I remember I posted this funny graphic and then got some pushback about it. I didn’t want to get into an argument, so I took it down.

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Still funny. (Image credit: Pinterest.com)

So I have normally been able to count on most of my Facebook friends to make political comments that I don’t agree with, sometimes gently and sometimes in a more inflammatory way. Election years have always been particularly bad, and that’s with me deleting the most obnoxious posters, including the mom of a close childhood friend, because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

But I have noticed a change over the last six months that I believe is reflective of how many conservatives’ viewpoints may slowly be shifting, just a bit. First of all, a very small number of my Facebook friends openly support Donald Trump–I’ve seen maybe two pro-Trump posts. This is reflective of the views of prominent Evangelical leaders like Russell Moore, who has been very openly never-Trump. I don’t agree with Moore on many political issues, but I respect his integrity, disavowal of bigotry and nativism, and adherence to biblical values in the face of opposition from many other Evangelical leaders who are falling in line behind Trump. Most of my Facebook friends seem, like Moore, to fall into the “choice between two bad options” camp when it comes to this election: anti-Trump and anti-Hillary. I can respect that.

That brings us to the events of the past week. I have been so, so surprised to see the reactions on Facebook. What I expected was what I have seen every time before: all the reasons why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile deserved it, all the reasons why the killing of the cops in Dallas was much worse than the other shootings of the week, all the reasons why #BlackLivesMatter is wrong and #AllLivesMatter is right. And there has been some of that.

But overwhelmingly, I am finally seeing my conservative, white Facebook friends acknowledge the reality of systemic racism in American society, particularly American policing. They are posting about how #AllLivesMatter is hurtful and hateful to a community in pain. People who I disagree with politically on almost every issue are acknowledging that the shootings of Sterling and Castile were unjust, and that the Black Lives Matter movement is not to blame for the shooting in Dallas, either.

This seems to reflect something real that has happened in America this week. White conservatives are, just maybe, getting it. This is reflected in comments from unexpected sources, such as conservative leader Newt Gingrich, among others, who made this statement:

“It took me a long time, and a number of people talking to me through the years to get a sense of this. If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.” (source: Slate.com)

Back on Facebook, I have also noticed many more people refusing to stay silent. Rather than just ignoring an ignorant post on their newsfeed, or quietly deleting someone, many of my white Facebook friends are speaking up and becoming allies to the black community in very powerful ways. This is something I am trying to do, too. I’m ashamed I stayed quiet for so long, and I’m trying to fix that. This week when I have seen ignorance and hate, I have said something. Have I done this perfectly? No. But I am done with being quiet, even if it would be more comfortable to be so. I don’t like debates. I don’t like arguments. I don’t want to be seen as a Facebook troll who is looking for attention. All I know is that this issue is too important for silence. Black Lives Matter.

5 Reasons Why #I’mWithHer

Just in case there was any doubt.

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Source: wikipedia.org
  1. She’s experienced.

Hillary’s been Secretary of State, a U.S. Senator, first lady of the United States and first lady of Arkansas. She knows how governing works. She has the knowledge necessary to be an effective president. As a former secretary of state, I think we could all feel very comfortable about her interactions with other countries.

In the real world outside of politics, we don’t like hiring people who don’t have experience related to the job they are going to be doing for us. I don’t like to hire a babysitter who has never been around toddlers before. We don’t hire contractors who have never renovated a house. So why is the title of political “outsider” (aka no political experience) seen as a positive quality in a person running for the most powerful position in the world?

2. She has real, substantive policy proposals with the knowledge to back them up.

Her policy proposals are detailed and realistic. She has a large amount of knowledge on a wide range of issues. No one running for president on either side during this election has been able to match her in this area. (Check this out and laugh when you compare the two.)

3. She’s a pragmatist.

Hillary isn’t especially inspiring. She’s not sexy. But she is practical. Related to points one and two above, she knows how things work, and she’s focused on solutions. She’s willing to reach across the aisle, compromise, and work with Republicans in order to make things happen. This is one of the things that Hillary gets criticized for the most by Bernie supporters, but it’s one of the things I like most about her.

Bernie’s impracticality is the reason I’ve chosen Hillary. Check out this quote from Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast comparing the two:

“What Sanders does is that he stakes out moral positions that are laudable abstract goals. But I’ve been shocked sometimes by how little thought he seems to have given to how to get to these goals…Now, to Clinton. What she offers are solutions.”

4. She cares about the rights of women and children.

Hillary has been a lifelong supporter of women’s rights. (Perhaps not surprising as she is a woman herself.) In 1995, during a speech at the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women, she famously said “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” Her main proposals as a presidential candidate related to women’s issues are ensuring equal pay for women and fighting for paid family leave and affordable child care.

One of Hillary’s consistent priorities throughout her career has been early childhood education, particularly for poor children. All the way back as First Lady of Arkansas, she introduced a home visiting Family Literacy program for the parents of young children called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters. As a senator, she called for increased funding to states to establish free pre-k programs for low-income and limited-English proficient children. One of her highest-profile presidential proposals is to create universal, free pre-k for 4-year olds.

5. She will preserve the legacy of the Obama administration.

I don’t understand at all how people complain about how Obama has been the “worst president in history.”  Really? REALLY?? Let’s look at some facts, shall we? As of January 2016, unemployment in the U.S. is down to 5%, the lowest it’s been in seven years. Obama’s job approval rating is currently at 50%. He has run “an amazingly scandal-free administration” during his time in office. Osama Bin Laden is dead. We are no longer involved in the war in Iraq.

Through the Affordable Care Act, 18 million Americans have health insurance now who didn’t before. This has affected my family personally–when Jonathan was unemployed last year and couldn’t be added to my health insurance, he was able to get affordable health insurance through the ACA. And because I work at a small non-profit now, we purchase our own health insurance and get partially reimbursed for my individual coverage. I’m not sure if we would have been able to afford that without the ACA.

So when Hillary says she is going to defend President Obama’s accomplishments and build upon them, that means something to me. I think we’ve seen a lot of good things happen in the last eight years, and for the country to continue to go in the right direction the new President will need to build on that positive momentum, not tear it down.

Also, one last thing: There is no conceivable reality in which I would vote for Donald Trump for President. 

So there’s that.

What do you think? If you would like to share, who are you voting for, and why?