Beer and the Language of Politics

Last week’s midterm elections have inspired me to talk politics, so here goes: When it comes to voting, my in-laws and I are different animals. This news may not be shocking, but for a while I feared that our beliefs would strain the friendships we’d developed.

So I started bringing craft beer to dinner. Since then, we’ve bonded even more  — usually over a pint. During these discussions, I realized that allegiance to a party is less like the religion suggested by some “experts” in media — whose ad sales often depend on Chicken-Little-style soothsaying — and more like two views of the same intact sky from slightly different angles. Most calm, rational adults can agree upon a desired destination, and even if we argue about which leaders and laws will get us there, those arguments can be as calm and rational as we are. Hell, we might even alter our opinions a bit based on new information (a practice mystifyingly labeled “flip flopping” in politics, even though to me it seems a better habit by far than stubbornly adhering to an idea proved wrong).

Beer moderates these debates.

Alcohol is nicknamed social lubricant for a reason. Beer in particular is known for calming the drinker, a side effect of a compound found in hops known as 2-methyl-3-butene-2-ol (we think it’s the reason beer makes you sleepy; some herbalists even prescribe hop-stuffed pillows for insomnia), which makes it one of the greatest social drinks on earth and, I think, one of our greatest tools for negotiation.

Tension has governed Washington since before I knew, or cared, about whose bombs were falling where, but I don’t believe that one politician, party, or law caused all of our problems. Suffering and injustice will exist as long as humans do. Instead I believe that the best way for us to move forward is to relax and maybe tell a joke or two before we talk. And I can’t think of a better way to loosen up our legislators than to lock them in a big room (I hear they have a couple of those lying around) with a few dozen coolers of delicious, calming beer.

Unless they’re angry drunks. Which is a possibility.

Better yet, we should invite them to a bar (yes, a big one) and let beer itself pull them back to earth. Let it strip away the ivory bricks that shield them from those they claim to represent. Let it displace the aisle between them and give them space to speak — not only amongst themselves, but also to us. Who knows? Maybe we’ll learn something from one another. Can’t be worse than learning everything we know from a moderator who feeds on fear.

16 Responses to “Beer and the Language of Politics”
  1. Anita says:

    Lobbying for more beer. Beer is the answer. Let them drink beer! Why can’t we all just get beer?…:)

  2. Deb says:

    Scott & Anita, Let’s get together at a brew pub & solve the world’s problems! 🙂

    • Scott says:

      Great plan! Maybe we can convince Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu to join us. Those two in particular seem like they could use some good beer.

  3. Ben says:

    i’ve already solved all the world’s problems, guys. check this out:

    how to fix the economy: sell our useless states to china as debt relief.

    how to bring about world peace: everyone knows people who are power-hungry are also sex-driven maniacs. therefore, they just need to get laid more. solution: prostitutes for peace. bonus: std-ridden prostitutes also could potentially wipe out those dudes.

    i know it’s crass, but it’ll work.

  4. Kris says:

    Who is this guy named Ben? I like his way of thinking

  5. Shane says:

    I love how you filed this under “Glenn Beck” and “Kieth Olbermann”. Awesome. Two people that make me wish there still was such a thing as celebrity deathmatch. But you are spot on – nothing like some cold suds shared over polite conversation to make differences not seem so different. Amen.

  6. jeanne says:

    Ben for president??
    Would love to be the fly on the wall for those talks with your inlaws. Actually would probably love to be the fly in the ointment. Yours or theirs or both.

  7. Ben says:

    Yes, Ben for president! I could be his running mate! No confusion there.

  8. fil says:

    1. Ben is a genius. Don’t think I’d wish the presidency on him tho. Have you SEEN what that job does to people?? BSO is only 2 years in & he already looks 6 years older!
    2. I’ll bet if we got down to it you’d find we’re no so far apart as you think ;^) Be glad to discuss anytime, over your favorite suds, of course!

    • Scott says:

      1. Yeah, you’d think the job is stressful or something.

      2. That’s kinda the point I was trying to make … beer’s already shown me that we aren’t so far apart! But I’ll still take you up on that offer to have a beer. 🙂

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