How do I best help my mom with her election?
September 12, 2012 7:15 AM   Subscribe

My mother is running for a fairly high office. I generally agree with her beliefs and standings, but not always those of her party. I want to support her in her bid for election but I have a hard time waving a flag for those who I don't agree with. How do I support my mom who I agree with while dealing with those who I have to shake hands with and smile at while at parades, fairs, and other functions (I mean people who are working for her campaign either explicitly or not, not those who are there to heckle)? This is in the US in the midwest, but it really shouldn't matter what state we are in or what party we might each be affiliated with - I just want to know how to best help my mom.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you co-ordinate with your mother's campaign. You can give her advice on who not to associate herself with and when she should publicly disagree with stances of others that she does not share.

Beyond that, just be polite.
posted by inturnaround at 7:19 AM on September 12, 2012

If you are actively campaigning for her then you are actively campaigning on behalf of her political party. I don't see any way around that. You will be associated with the general positions and beliefs of her party.

You can try to be polite to the party functionaries who she surrounds herself with, but that could be hard if they start making jokes, comments, and general banter that you disagree with. You could bite your tongue, but that could get hard after a while.
posted by alms at 7:23 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you talked to you mom about your differences in political beliefs before? If so, you might have her suggest how you might be helpful to her, in light of those differences. You might find that she wouldn't expect you to actively promote a cause that you don't believe in, but might have other ways you could support her personally. If you have this framed from her perspective, especially if it's one that is sensitive to your current position, that would probably work best.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:28 AM on September 12, 2012

Have you asked her about the differences between her positions and her party's positions? Some people want to work from within to change things, for instance.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:39 AM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

Are you actively working for her campaign, or are you just the smiling child who shows up at events with her? The two are a bit different.

If you're just the proud child there as moral support, then smiling, politeness and small talk is your best route. There are people who will be All About The Issues, but they're just as much of a bore to the people who ARE on their side as they are to the opposite party, and you deal with them by talking about the food/music/weather. Your being at a parade or a fair is the perfect opportunity to make your conversations with people to be about things like "wow, did you try the pilau over at that red tent there? It was INCREDIBLE" or "did you see that poor little girl get hit in the head with a baton? I hope she's okay!"

If you're actively working with the campaign, maybe focusing on the specific and concrete things your mother will be doing is the way to go - yes, the National Platform of the party in question is doing this thing you are uneasy about, but that's different from your mother trying to do something about the potholes on the Interstate (or whatever), isn't that cool how that's going to help everyone? You know, consistently focus on what your mother is going to be nitty-gritty doing every day, because odds are it will have vanishingly little to do with the Big National Issues.

And as for you personally settling your own mind - something I often remind myself is that, honestly, deep down everyone is all trying to work towards the same general goal of Trying To Make The World Better. We may disagree wildly on HOW to do that, but unless someone is actively pathologically sociopathic, they still want to generally improve things. No matter how much you disagree with what they do, they are not doing it personally to annoy you or because they're, like, Ming the Merciless in disguise. That usually helps me try to listen for what the reason FOR their conclusions may be, and at least that triggers some compassion in me for them (one of my aunts has started getting very "Tea Party" in her outlook - but I figured out there's some deep-seated family-dynamic sibling-rivalry stuff that's probably fueling a lot of that, so I end up feeling too sympathetic to her about that to be angry about her views).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

It depends on how high the office is, at least in part, but it's not uncommon in state races for a child or close friend or something to say, "You know, I'm actually a Democrat, but I support my Republican mom in this race because [important positions she has taken], and I think those are crucially important whether you're a Democrat or Republican. And even in [rare cases where we disagree], I still think there is NOBODY who's better for this job than my mom, and here's why ..."

We're Democrats (I hold a local office) and we very occasionally and selectively support (endorse, campaign, fundraise, whatever) for certain GOP candidates (who are our friends), in local or state races. We have a friend who's a judge who runs on the GOP ticket and I can wholeheartedly say there is no better judge in the circuit and she is fantastic at her job. (And her stances are quite moderate.) When I ran, a GOP person (faaaarrrrrr to the right, and big in the local party) endorsed me and it was very powerful endorsement within the community that this person was saying I was the best person for the job.

To me it also matters (rather a lot) whether this is a legislative race where two fairly disciplined parties vote along party lines in the statehouse (because then it doesn't matter a whole lot what the person believes, unless you have reason to think they can change the party from the inside; they're just going to be helping the party advance its agenda), or whether it's a less-partisan situation where party doesn't matter as much for coalitions (city councils, usually) or an individual position (state treasurer, cororner, state's attorney) where individual competence matters and they have limited ability to advance a party's interests.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:11 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

If there are issues important to you that are consistent with the views of the party, you can focus on those to the exclusion of the views you don't agree with. This happens to children of political figures all the time. Think Mary Cheney, Meghan McCain, the Bush twins, etc. - all people who have liberal social views but can commiserate on various conservative-to-moderate economic and foreign policy issues important to their parents.

But yeah, coordinate with the campaign - everyone's freaked out about having to deal with the next Sarah Palin or Clint Eastwood. The best way to help is to do as you're told (as sad as that is.)
posted by moammargaret at 8:37 AM on September 12, 2012

Look, it's Politics. I guarantee that even if your Mom was running under the banner of the party you identify with, she (and by extension, you) would have to smile and shake hands with some folks with pretty ridiculous/harmful views and agendas. The point of politics is to agree to disagree and work with folks to make things better.

I spent some months working on campaigns back in the early 90's. I was sent from my nice insular liberal urban enclave to the rural part of my state, to work with Democratic candidates in that area. I was shocked to meet in person, for the first time, scores of rural Democrats. Fiercely prolife, antigay, Democrats. It was... vertiginous. But it was my job to grit my teeth and help them get "my" guy elected, because he was way better than the opposition candidate. If people are willing to help your candidate win, you take the help and say thank you. If someone asks what YOUR views are, speak about your candidate's positions. A handshake is not an endorsement. A polite conversation is not a campaign contribution nor yet a vote for the "bad" guy. The idea that one must shun and attack those with which one disagrees is anathema to civil discourse and bad for democracy.

Remember the campaign is about your Mom, not about you.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:51 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

My grandfather ran for a judgeship (and won!) with a platform that was more to one side than I would have supported on my own. I went to a few community events. When asked to support other folks in his party, I simply said, "oh, how could I possibly do that? I don't know anything about xyz candidate. I do know all about my Grandfather and he is a great man."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:25 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

My general rule is that if one's belief in [anything] are so weak that one daren't expose them to opposing beliefs then it is time for a serious re-think of said belief.

Intolerance, in its many manifestations, is a solid indicator of weak belief systems.

Find ways to help that don't require interacting with people who might be (properly) offended by your intolerance.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:44 PM on September 12, 2012

Think of it as a job, and your mother as a boss you respect. You support what she says and what she does publicly, but privately if you have concerns, you raise them briefly and trust her to use that feedback (or not) as she sees fit. And, of course, if you have too many moral conflicts with the job, you advise her that you won't be taking the job, and that she should advise folks that her family would prefer to stay out of the spotlight.
posted by davejay at 3:45 PM on September 12, 2012

It is perfectly acceptable for you to work for her behind the scenes.
posted by scottymac at 10:03 PM on September 12, 2012

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