Politics are not generally “fun” for most people. When friends and strangers gather, they don’t generally jump right into talk of elections, policies, taxes, etc. Friends would rather talk about the weather, our kids, what’s going on at work, or maybe what happened on TV last night.

Since the summer of 2015, we’ve all been caught up in the campaign for president. It’s come down to Trump vs. Hillary vs. someone else you’ve never heard of. Most people have “their pick” and yet many people are afraid to say so.

Assuming is never a good thing, but I assume that most people pick their party / candidate the same way they pick their car brand — “What did I buy the last time?” You see, if you’ve always driven a Ford, you’re very likely to always buy a Ford.

Changing car brands and political parties does happen though. I changed parties during and after college. I have favored the Democrat, the Independent, and the Republican. My wife changed parties after marriage. She’s now more aligned with her parents, with me, and with some of her closest friends. People change.

Some people are just now getting into politics and they have yet to pick a party. Others will change parties during different stages of life.

What’s most interesting to me is how so many of us are afraid to really stand up for our our party or candidate or a position that we support. We’re afraid to stand up for the individual who might truly make a long-term difference in our nation, and in our household / community. In fact, a lot of people are more likely to promote a movie or restaurant more than they will support a candidate who can affect babies, jobs, security, freedom of religion, etc.

Today is June 14, 2016 and the presidential election is just 140 days away… yet I have not seen a single yard sign for Hillary or for Trump. I’ve seen the occasional bumper sticker. But no yard signs. Are people embarrassed or afraid to publicly disclose the candidate they support? Or are they not excited about the prospects of pulling a new person into their party or way of thinking?

Today’s public discourse seems to happen on social media, yet they are often half-hearted efforts at best. If we post anything at all in favor of our candidate or a position they hold, we don’t very often stand up to someone who disagrees with us. Even worse, two people may get into some sort of online chat, then in about two minutes flat, one of them simply QUITS and often unfriends the other. It’s pretty childish in my opinion. Two adults having an online “discussion” about an election that could forever change the course of the United States and someone starts crying in less than 120 seconds, then runs home to mommy, and puts up a wall against other people.

Can’t you take 10 minutes to learn about the candidates’ positions, and then have a civil conversation about them? Can you not defend yourself and your beliefs for five minutes? All too often that seems the case in today’s environments where people hide behind their social media avatar.

So far in 2016, our country has spent more time talking about Hillary’s lying and Trump’s temper than we have discussing the actual issues and platforms they support! It’s as if we hate a Nissan because of the paint color, and like a Chevy because of the attractive wheels. Superficial nonsense that makes no difference. That superficiality has created our own thin skin and inability to hold a meaningful conversation about what’s important to us and our families.

I would encourage you to stop paying attention to the paint color and wheel style. Look at what’s underneath the hood of the car, study the manufacturer, and the company’s vision.

Find a non-biased website that has gathered the candidates’ platform positions. Look through the issues and find what’s important to you. Maybe for you it’s all about trade, education, guns, and abortion. Or maybe you’re more into positions on military, world finances, and agriculture. It’s impossible to fully support every stance that a particular candidate has; you’re going to disagree with something (or many things) they believe, and that’s okay. But find what’s most important to you, have a backbone, be respectful, and support that candidate. Every vote counts.

If their victory, and therefore the victory of their position, is truly important to you, then you should be willing to stand up and fight for that person, and not run home to mommy.

In the same regard, if you don’t agree with someone else’s political views, don’t hold it against them or think they are a bad person. Don’t burn stuff, throw eggs, or call them names. If you do that, then YOU are the one being childish, or maybe the one who’s the criminal. The fact is that you’re both citizens of the United States of America and you have the right to your beliefs, and you should both be respectful of others.

Support your candidate in your yard, on your car, in social media, everywhere — and be willing to have a meaningful conversation about the platform issues with a friend or stranger. It might actually be fun for both of you, and there’s a chance you might bring a new voter to your party — and your preferred candidate into the White House.

On November 2nd you can talk about the weather again. Until then, the future of the country is in your hands.