Here is a thing that happened:
I was involved in a political discussion on the ol’ FB, and someone I do not know (friend of a friend) commented that he certainly hoped, apropos of my refusal to loathe a candidate he loathes, that I don’t have a son or daughter who could be sent to die in an oil war.
I do, of course, and if he didn’t know that, I’m sure that had he found out, he would have been pleased with himself for giving me such a tangible reason to come around to his way of thinking. I see the rationale of arguing in that way, uniting the desire I have to protect my children to a specific political preference he’d like me to share.
(NB I’m not naming names here because I am not interested in having a traditional leftist circular firing squad in this space — nor in the general election, which is how I found myself in this situation. I imagine you can read between the lines anyway.)
Here’s the curious thing, though: that gambit doesn’t work that way, at least not for me. His comment did rouse my ursine protective qualities, but not such that I came rationally around to his point of view. In fact, my unsubtle brain identified *him* as the threat to my children. I was suprised at the intensity of the hostility I suddenly felt towards him, where before I had felt only a mild irritation. Moreover, some of that feeling transferred itself, however unfairly, to the candidate he was supporting, despite the fact that I have no real beef with the candidate in question.
The experience reminded me of how I didn’t truly understand what lay behind that standard advice about not getting between an actual mother bear and her cub until the first time the Bean was old enough to walk without holding my hand (though still very small) and someone walked between us: we were in a park or somewhere similarly safe and I could see him just fine — there was no actual danger — and yet I wanted to launch myself at the person between us and rip at them with my claws. How dare they!
I bring this up not to invite a debate on whose box I should check in the primary (or even whether I should vote in the primary, a position I find more morally defensible than usual in the case of the Democratic presidential candidates, if not lower offices) but rather as an observation on the complicated nature of brains and the care those of us who do feel deeply about our candidates would be wise to take when scoring rhetorical points. This only matters if one likes winning, of course. I’m not altogether sure my political allies do always prefer winning to being self-righteous — but that is a story for a different time.