I don’t often get political here–and technically I’m still not, although Goddess knows there will be some who jump on my shit from this post simply because they will not READ what I write, but ASSUME. I get that–I don’t get WHY, but I get that. But I don’t normally do this, and have been backing off of political stuff in general because of what I have been seeing. The vitriol and violence and basic lack of respect have REALLY forced me into a survival mode of sorts. But anyway…
I AM A LIBERAL
What this does NOT mean:
- I believe anyone who votes republican is an asshole
What this DOES mean:
- I believe in everyone getting a chance, even if that means getting a little help.
- I believe in change–often rapid and painful.
NOW–before you threaten me with ovarian cancer or waterboarding, please look at that I said. Do NOT place words in my mouth. I did not use the word “change” there as code. I have been using this term as a tag for liberalism LONG before a certain someone chose it as his campaign slogan.
Background: I was a history teacher for 7+ years. I taught Government for the last 3–although any self respecting teacher of history teaches always teaches government, really. But I would often break up the political spectrum to its simplest form as such:
- Conservatives like to maintain the status quo, keeping things in order. They embrace tradition.
- Liberals like to mix things up and bring about change with the times. They embrace the future.
Now, I have said nothing negative here, although there are those who would read it as such. But here is my argument: in a society we need both a love of tradition and of the future. Peace USUALLY occurs somewhere in the middle.
Example: if we only had a world that only embraced tradition, I wouldn’t even be able to vote. If we had a world that only embraced the future, we might lose out on all human interaction, and life might be devalued in the name of science.
See what I’m getting at here–the middle path. There is no clean cut easy answer. Life at best is messy and complicated with multiple layers of understanding. It is full of contradictions. Says the liberal woman staying home in a traditional woman’s role.
Now take a moment to notice something–there is nothing here about republican or democrat. OR socialist or Nazi. As I taught the lesson, we would apply these views to the political parties along a spectrum and the students would realize they reside somewhere along that spectrum–some more right or left, most of us squarely in the middle. We would examine our own personal ideals and then find which party best represents our own views–not have the party define for us what our views should be.
Many of my students were often shocked to find themselves identifying as Republicans. Not a shock to me, really. I taught in underprivileged areas where the future was uncertain–hell, where the next DAY was uncertain. Embracing what had been–what was safe and predictable can be a natural state of being in those situations.
But they also found out that their “political” views did not always encompass one party–because that is what life is like. There isn’t the “Dawn party”–and if some of you knew what was going on inside my head, you’d be thankful. And some of you’d be “fuck yeah!” But most of you would say, “hmm, I agree with this but not that.”
My goal was usually to get them thinking about where they stand. That is all. I was not trying to recruit young liberals. I was not trying to brainwash young republicans. I would try with all my might to conceal my own views. Successful? Hardly. But what I WOULD share were my internal conflicts to show that as an adult, it STILL isn’t crystal clear. that every issue required examination and thought.
And when a student would express hyperbolic language clearly entrenched in one camp or another–I would call them out on it. as a class we would discuss and examine, to try and establish that there is no one right answer. Other than respect one another and try not to hurt people. (and if that view makes me some sort of boogeyman–then I will jump out of closets every night to defend it)
So, imagine my dismay, my horror at what I see on the news, on Facebook, on my city streets when it comes to the presidential race, healthcare, immigration, etc etc. Is it honest and intelligent discourse? Not what I’ve seen.
You know what I’ve seen?
- name calling
- threats of violence
- outright LIES masked as news or truth
- threats of violence
- extreme polarization
Please notice something. I did NOT say which side is perpetrating what. Nor am I going to. Because THAT argument would just add to the polarization, and I refuse to be a part of it.
See, here’s the thing. I have beliefs. Beliefs that you may not agree with. Just as you have beliefs that I may not even begin to fathom. But AT NO POINT do I want to claim you have less intelligence as me, or that I hope some horrible wasting disease falls upon you simply because of that belief. I may question why you think that way, and even engage in lively debate. At no point in that debate though, would I imply that I have a weapon and would use it. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
And maybe what I find important doesn’t even register to you. I’m sorry–that DOESN’T make me a moron. It makes me human. Issues like women’s health and abortion are first and foremost on my plate. Gay marriage rights are right behind that. Because that’s what I find important. Immigration issues and taxes are further down my list. This doesn’t make me unamerican. On the contrary. Most people in this country vote based on the issue that is first and foremost in their mind. But threatening me with violence or wishing disease upon me because of the issues on which I base my political decisions ISN’T intelligent discourse–it’s simply name-calling because my thought processes are not the same as yours. How is that any different from religious intolerance? (another topic I am LOATHE to discuss)
Call me an ape. Call me misguided. Tell me that you don’t think I have examined the issues fully. Hell, HATE me and everything I stand for. But do NOT threaten to rape, kill or maim. And yes–those are threats I have seen based simply on verbal discourse. And do NOT tell me, “well the [other side] said the same thing.” SO? We are not 12 and tit for tat is for children. Meeting threats of violence with more threats of violence is immature and ridiculous.
I get that people are angry–that unemployment is a serious issue. That people feel like their world is coming apart. And I get how that makes people want to lash out at others. But here’s the thing. Government isn’t “us” against “them”–it’s simply “us”. The power of those in government comes from us. And the more divided we are–the more power they can grab. The less we are unable to have respectful and intelligent discourse, the more those in power can manipulate us for their own uses.
So. Don’t waste my time telling me that Democrats are as bad as Republicans, or that the president is leading us on a path toward Socialism. And don’t inundate me with the idiocy of the actions of the the tea party, or the war on women, or how Bush led us here in the first place. As an intelligent, informed and capable adult, you will pardon me if I make these decisions MYSELF. Based on what I believe and find to be important in my life. I will not engage in hyperbolic language and fear mongering. And if that makes me a coward, “unwilling to defend” myself, then paint me yellow, because I will be DAMNED if I am going to jump into an argument with someone simply because they are outraged at my personal choices.
Because you know what else I believe? That if you act rationally and with intelligence, and refuse to engage an uncompromising fool shouting nonsense, eventually the intelligent rational argument will win. Does that make me naive? Maybe. But it’s MY belief, and I really don’t care what a name-calling bully has to say about it.
ps. GODS will I be happy when this election cycle is over…