Never discuss politics or religion in a relationship, goes the old adage. But with the residential debates in full swing and Election Day rushing upon us, political discussion is unavoidable for many co-eds this season. Follow these tips to make it until November 6 with grace and class.
1. Stay open.
Are you a super-conservative student on a mostly liberal campus? No doubt you are sick of your hardcore Democratic classmates and just to tune them out. But don’t. You have a right to believe what you believe, but you should also remember that you are young and that your politics will probably change throughout the course of your life. Your classmates might not change your mind, but listen to them and stay open.
2. Stay informed.
Nothing reveals how much you keep up with the news like how knowledgeable you are about the Presidential election. As a classy co-ed, not knowing anything about the biggest Americadn news story of 2012 is just embarrassing. What if you have to talk about in class? Or worse, are asked about it at a job interview? Do your homework. Read the front page of a national newspaper every day, or follow a political blog. Watch the debates. At the very least, sign up for a Google Alert for the presidential election.
3. Stay respectful.
So you’re a staunch Obama supporter, know absolutely everything about his campaign, and can prove why Romney would make a terrible President. Great for you, but not everybody else wants to hear about it – especially if that other person is a Republican. You have no idea why someone else thinks the way they do, so don’t pretend you do. Arguing ideas is great; launching into a diatribe is not. And never, EVER resort to making a personal attack on someone else. Not classy.
4. Know when to say no.
Two of my sorority sisters couldn’t get along for the longest time, because of their different views on abortion. Finally, they came to the mutual decision to never discuss the topic. Yes, political discussion is unavoidable in certain situations. But if you and your best friend can’t agree on a particular issue, agree not to talk about it and stick to that promise. It is better to save a friendship than be right. If an interviewer asks about politics, keep your opinions to yourself and stay neutral. Try pointing out a positive and negative of each candidate, or discussing the different ways their campaigns are being run.
5. Limit your social media.
We all have that one friend who only posts about politics on Facebook or Twitter, and we all know how annoying that is. It’s great that you’re politically involved, but we don’t have to know about it all the time. Live-tweeting a Presidential debate is acceptable, posting a photo of your candidate every day is not. Know the difference. And don’t ever get into a political discussion on someone’s Facebook status. They never end well.