I’ll go ahead and preface this by putting out all my cards on the table. I’m a Republican. I’m not an overly aggressive tea party sort, but more so your typical run of the mill, establishment Republican who personally prefers John Kasich this go around. I also happen to work in a very left leaning office where I am almost certainly the lone Republican. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a relatively politically active guy. I was a political science major during my undergrad (#PGP), and I’m currently working on my Masters in a related discipline. I’ll share political stuff on social media, talk about gun rights with my relatives at Thanksgiving, and I’ve even interned with a few members of Congress. With this all being said, I’m a firm believer that talking politics in the workplace can never, ever lead to any sort of a happy ending and should be avoided at all costs.
The water cooler is a staple of almost any American office. It’s where you catch up with Bill from accounting about the Redskins game last night, make small talk about the weather, and bond over the misery of your morning commute. However, recently, following the firestorm of nationally televised debates, this once safe zone has been infested by political discussion ranging from “free” college to ISIS.
I generally make the dash for the comforts of my second home, my cubicle. I’ve worked in only a few professional environments before, but I’ve always observed those who make it their own personal mission to broadcast their opinions. I’ve seen offices with Obama stickers all over the file drawers, “Don’t Tread on Me” computer backgrounds, and even the occasional “Coexist” jacket pin. We live in a country where we are incredibly blessed to have the privilege of free speech, but like many things, I think this is best left at home, alongside any discussion about your child’s piano lessons (I’m looking at you, Janet from Human Resources).
The unfortunate reality is, we’re living in a society where more and more people are so polarized over their political views that it leads to some of the more petty actions I’ve seen. One hundred comment long Facebook debates, the blind sharing epidemic, you name it, and it’s probably out there. An office should not be home to these sorts of public forums. Like many of you, my headphones are perhaps my most prized possession. Generally, these bad boys and their Dave Matthews playlist save me from the typical office banter around me, ranging from the classic humble bragging about children to how much of a bitch Sally from sales is.
Recently, these music-filled gifts from the Gods have saved me from my colleagues who become political analysts the morning after any nationally televised debates. Most offices require a cohesive unit with at least a somewhat coherent line of communication which is generally strengthened by a cordial relationship with your fellow cubicle warriors.
Nothing seems to divide people in today’s society more so than discussions about hot button issues. In other words, when the sales team isn’t on speaking terms because Bill’s stance on Planned Parenthood isn’t gelling with the others, that’s bad news for all of us. Politics, much like one’s personal life is always best left out of the office. Leave the water cooler talk to how shitty your commute was this morning or why Clemson is going to win it all this year, not the hot button issues your aunt shared to her 37 Facebook friends every day.
The bad news is that this election is only just getting started. The first primaries are still months away, and half of the country is still seemingly running on the Republican side. Let’s all do ourselves a favor and sit out of the generic office political discussions this go around. Do your research, stay informed, and for the sake of your civic duty, don’t forget to vote, just make sure your whole office doesn’t know which way you did..
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