Sunday, January 25, 2009

Political couples who voted differently

Mike Lata

written Oct. 26th

Couples disagreeing politically

Chico residents, Pam Easterly and Paul Bailey, have been together for nine years and still don‘t agree how to vote during elections. They also have been married for 2.5 years. Easterly will vote for Barack Obama, while Bailey will vote for John McCain.

Not all romantic couples even married ones share the same politics or convert to one party overtime. Many vote for opposite parties and have to find ways to cope.

Having different political views can be challenging for couples. But, it can also draw couples together because some experts think it can teach people about their partner’s values and stances on issues important to them. This allows couples to learn more about each other and can make their relationship grow.

There is a lot at stake this coming Nov. 4 election as American citizens will be choosing their next president with voting on various propositions that can affect peoples’ lifestyles.

Blond-haired Bailey has an elegant buttoned-shirt on with jeans, and the black-haired Easterly has a green dress on with a feather-like design. Easterly has a neck brace on that she got from a work-related injury. They sit on an outside bench in front of Peet’s Coffee & Tea shop in Chico. As they start to discuss politics Easterly starts to shuffles sunglass back and forth on the table while Bailey sips his coffee.

“We pretty much always disagreed on politics,” Easterly said. “I didn’t know you would be so far apart from me.”

“Well I was surprised because you were in the military,” Bailey said.

“There are a lot of Democrats in the military,” Easterly said. “Everyone in my squadron was Democrat.”

Easterly was in the Air Force Reserve for 12 years in Pennsylvania and now is close to finishing her bachelor‘s in psychology. Bailey works as a fleet manager for a non-emergency medical transportation.

“Gun control is something we also don’t agree with,” Easterly said.

“Do you think it’s a good idea for only the military to have guns?” Bailey asks Easterly.

“The military or the police,” she answers.

Bailey replies with a saying he likes to quote.

“Like the bumper sticker says if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns.”

Bailey said the founding fathers were right with regards to having the right to bear arms.

Easterly countered this assertion when she said that it was a different time period they lived in.

As they continued to disagree they started holding hands.

The way they deal with their political differences is they agree to disagree, Easterly said.

When Bailey first met and started dating Easterly he was not as strongly opinionated with his political views, he said. Having a strong opinion regarding politics grew on him as he got older.

Easterly on the other hand says she was always opinionated with regards to politics and in High School she was in an organization called “Youth In Government,” she said.

When it comes to discussing their political beliefs and debating one another on the other hand, they don’t do this very often, Bailey said.

“It gets a little bit heated,” he explains. “Not nasty but heated.”

As heated debates between Obama and McCain were broadcast, Bailey and Easterly watched the debates separately on different televisions.

“If we watched them together I don’t know what would happen,” Easterly said.

Despite their largely opposite political views they still share the same opinions on some issues. Abortion is one of those issues.

“We both agree abortion is wrong but even biblically we have a free will,” Easterly said. “And the government shouldn’t force its will on people.”

Bailey said the priest that married him and his wife told them that people have to believe something to be wrong in their heart before they can see the action as wrong. They cannot just be told it is wrong.

Chico State students and young couples can learn a lot from Bailey and Easterly as their relationship shows that differences in views or values each person holds important to them can be overcome.

Morgan Watson is an international relations sophomore in Chico State who has dated someone with different views and enjoys the difference of opinion.

“If you are one-sided it would be difficult to get into such a relationship,” she said. “But if you don’t mind arguing and it’s not too extreme on each side I don’t see why not.”

For young couple like Watson and her ex boyfriend it wasn’t a big challenge, she said. It gave them something to talk about, meaning the difference of opinion on things related to politics.

Since many college aged couples are still in school and don’t have to worry about economic issues such as paying taxes as much yet, social issues are probably more important.

“Social issues are harder to overcome than economic,” Watson said. “Like abortion - They are usually strongly for or against it.”

Watson said she wouldn’t be against marrying someone with different political iews, and is usually open about her views relatively early in a relationship.

Rob Howard is a Chico State psychology professor and is also a friend of Bailey and Easterly.

“Difference in politics is just another place where they get to practice being a married couple,” he said.

Howard does not recommend forcing someone to accept their own views on an issue such as politics or trying to change their values.

“Changing someone's views has never worked for me and I see a lot of people trying and it doesn’t work for them,” he said.

There is a difference however between views or beliefs and values.

“When you talk about values it means people have emotions in what they believe in,” Howard said. “Expressing your values, and relating respectfully with each other's values are much different strategies than trying to win an argument about whose values are better.”

Listening or being able to hear someone out is being able to deal with yourself first, Howard said. This way, you can deal with the problem and an emotional conversation may be less of a problem and more of an opportunity to grow.

There are two questions couples often face, Howard said. How much are we going to be together? And, how much is there room for us to be different and unique? So if a husband and wife are arguing about a candidate it might be an argument about the relationship as a whole, not just which candidate should become president.

“There is a potential to deepen intimacy in getting to know both yourself and your partner better,” Howard said.

People often assume that their partner knows what is troubling them or what they are thinking at certain moments, he said. But they often don’t check those assumptions out.

“I think yes people can have fundamental differences in what god they believe in, or who will be the next president, among things” Howard said. “The question is for each person can they recognize and regulate their own emotions and recognize and relate with somebody else?”

contact of sources: available to employers and media outlets interested in publishing.

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