Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What to say, and when to say it

I have had discussions in my office this week that have both enjoyable and troubling.

I have discussed politics with a co-worker, which is basically odd since I've pretty much refrained from debating in the workplace for almost 6 years.

In my previous job I used to participate in debates in the coffee room that legendary. Whatever the topic, it seemed I stood alone, a singular Conservative in a sea of Liberals. Along the way I had the fickle support of self-described Moderates; such it was at the defense contractor site I was employed.

I came to the realization, perhaps too late for my own good, that the frequent debates/arguments - while at times entertaining - were doing nothing positive for my career.

So I largely refrained from verbal debates in the office (it would be no shock to realize that is when my blogging became more politically oriented). Naturally, when I started at my current position over 3 years ago, I maintained my silence.

This week, something broke the dam. I have had 20-30 minute discussions with my colleague, and I am loving it. He is a self-described Independent, a Gulf War I veteran, husband and father of three girls, and Martial Arts student like myself (but his lessons focus greatly on grappling). Like me, he was a legacy member from The Old Project, so while we didn't work together before 3 years ago, we've known each other at least casually for somw time.

What gets him frustrated with me the fact that I keep asking to point to whatever accomplishment Sen. Barack Obama has done to make him worthy of being president.

Repeatedly, he says he is inspired by his speeches.

That's all this otherwise bright, educated, Navy veteran can say on behalf of Sen. Obama. This worries me because I wonder how many others may be drawn for similarly weak reasons.

While I do enjoy pointing out my colleague is supporting a demagogue, and as near as I can tell he is also enjoying our verbal sparring, I am compelled to hold my tongue before I inadvertently offend someone - either he or some of the audience we seem to be attracting.

That this buddy of mine also reports to me makes it even more awkward: not that I would ever hold our disagreements against him (his reputation and work speaks volumes of his efforts), but I cannot risk the possibility that others will take exception to my views, however unfair that may would be, and lob accusations against me.

I wish I had joined a debate club when I was younger; I think I would have been quite persuasive in my arguments.

I suppose I should resume my political blogging, where at least the impact to my career is, at least, marginal. I've been successful in keeping my blog reading/writing activities under the radar.

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