Sam Burnham, Curator
Life shouldn’t be only about politics. Politics is part of life and as long as we live in a society with a government we’re going to have politics. But our lives should be bigger than politics. We should have conversations, celebrations, friendships, relationships, and business transactions that fly high above politics.
That being said, I want to tell you about my thoughts this past week when I heard that Elizabeth Warren ended her campaign for the presidency. There was no chance that I’d ever vote for Warren. We are, politically, as different as daylight and dark. But there’s more to this story.
Warren’s deputy political director was Stefan Turkheimer. Stefan and I met when we were both frequent guests on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s show On Second Thought. He and I differ a lot politically but we have a lot on common elsewhere and we had a lot of great conversations both on air and off. I always loved being on a discussion panel with him.
He left Georgia to work in Washington a few years back and when I was in town shortly after his move we tried to get together but it just didn’t work. I wish that it had.
So when Warren hung it up, she wasn’t the only one who lost. Stefan Turkheimer did too. He tweeted a picture of a retro looking Warren campaign button with the caption “Forever.” A fitting declaration from someone who has thrown themselves into a cause they will never forget. This is where life is bigger than politics. I didn’t want Warren to win but I was not happy that Stefan lost.
I feel like this is a part of our humanity we are losing. It’s that ability to disagree on politics while remaining civil, even cordial. There are people with a different political perspective who agree with us on art, music, sports, food, movies. These are people who work the same kinds of jobs, have similar hobbies, and laugh at the same jokes we do. We’re missing that because we tie their humanity, and our own, to politics. The sad part is the only people benefiting from this travesty are politicians.
It is an undisputed historical fact (don’t argue with me) that Thomas Jefferson was the smartest of all Americans. I often lean on his famous quote: "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." This is the way grown ups should behave. Withdrawing from friendships because of politics is barbaric and crude.
Friendship is bigger than politics. It always should be. I know there will be an end to this election. I know Stefan will find another job and someone will be lucky to have such a brilliant and hilarious man on their staff. Life will go on. And if I wind up back in Washington, we’ll get together for some laughs.
Let life be bigger than politics. Start right now.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire